Sauk Village Electoral Board fairness questioned

2013-01-14T18:30:00Z 2013-01-14T20:12:17Z Sauk Village Electoral Board fairness questionedGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
January 14, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

SAUK VILLAGE | A local resident who is challenging the slate of candidates aligned with village president hopeful Derrick Burgess and several other candidates expressed concerns Monday whether the Electoral Board will be fair in addressing his issues.

Derrick Thompson filed challenges against the People’s Unity Party candidates, including Burgess and his allies running for village clerk and village trustee vacancies. He also has challenges against the candidacies of village president hopeful David Hanks, Village Clerk Debbie Williams and Trustee Rosie Williams.

The challenge involving the Burgess slate will be considered by a panel of three attorneys appointed by Cook County Judge Edmund Ponce de Leon.

But the other challenges will be heard by panels consisting of Hanks and various trustees, which bothers Thompson.

“When I saw the other gentlemen on the board, I felt like I might actually get a fair hearing,” Thompson said. “But now I see these people who serve with the people I’m challenging, and I know I won’t get a fair hearing.”

Village Attorney Mike McGrath, who was advising the Electoral Board on Monday, tried to address Thompson's fears. “I guarantee you will get a fair hearing,” McGrath said.

Unconvinced, Williams cited his challenge against Clerk Debbie Williams, whose daughter, Trustee Rosie Williams, will sit on the Electoral Board panel hearing that case.

Likewise, his challenge to Rosie Williams’ case will be presided over by Debbie Williams.

“We have the mom presiding over the daughter’s case,” Thompson said. “There’s no way this will be a fair hearing.”

In all cases, a schedule was set up so that written legal briefs will be traded by the differing sides during the next week, with oral arguments to be heard during hearings scheduled for Jan. 22 and 23.

Acting Village President David Hanks said the Electoral Board composition complied with the state election code in that it consisted of the village president, village clerk and senior-most trustee, using the second-most senior trustee in cases where one of the three would have a conflict of interest.

He said the outside panel appointed by the judges was needed for the challenges against entire slates because in those two cases  — against Burgess’ slate and the Citizens for Reform Party headed by village president hopeful Enoch Benson IV — everybody would have had a conflict of interest.

Hanks also said it is not financially practical to have an outside panel hear all the Electoral Board cases.

“People may not realize it, but we’re going to have to pay for these attorneys to come in and hear these cases,” Hanks said, admitting he didn't know the precise cost. “I’m sure the court will be sending the village a bill for this.”

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