A little while ago, Green Party Sheriff’s candidate Gus Philpott sent out the press release at the bottom of this article.
It questioned Sheriff Keith Nygren’s eligibility to be on the ballot.
I knew that such a challenge was too late, so I didn’t run his release.
The time to challenge is right after the filing of petitions, as was made evident in the challenge to Independent judicial candidate Sally Wiggins’ petitions this summer by Sharon Maroni.
But now advice as to how to challenge a candidate’s residency has come from an Illinois State Board of Elections attorney, Ken Menzel.
Addressed to Philpott and McHenry County Clerk Katherine Schultz, it appears below:
RE: Nygren ineligibility due to Florida residency
Ms. Schultz and Mr. Philipot
I would note a few comments about the avenues provided under Illinois law to deal with issues regarding allegations of disqualification on the part of office holders, and the diffusion of authority among the levels of government in Illinois.
The State Board of Elections does not have any authority over ballot access as to officers at the county or local level. The SBE’s authority as to candidate ballot access is limited to federal, state, judicial and certain multicounty offices.
Ballot access as to county offices is dealt with at the county level (and review of county decisions goes to the court system). The state has an interest in officers holding the requisite qualifications for their respective offices, but the SBE is not the agency through which such interests are enforced regarding county offices.
Further, ballot access matters involve a balance of several public interests.
The propriety of a candidate’s appearance on the ballot is balanced with the need for finality (so as to permit a ballot to be printed at all) and the rights of the voters to have their ballots available in a timely fashion.
At a certain point, the makeup of the ballot lineup is (and must be) fixed. We have essentially past that point in the election process for the November 2010 election.
In the event that an allegedly unqualified candidate does win an election, the appropriate avenue to testing the candidate’s qualifications is through a “quo warranto” proceeding (see Article XVIII of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure).
A person asserting that an officer is not qualified to hold office may inform the appropriate State’s Attorney and the Attorney General, which offices have the option to pursue the quo warranto action.
If those offices decline to do so, the person may seek leave of court to undertake such action on behalf of the public’s interest.
While I have some passing knowledge of the allegations in this instance, I don’t know enough to opine as to whether such an action offers a likelihood of success, nor would it be appropriate for me to so opine in any event.
If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Illinois State Board of Elections
100 W. Randolph Street, Suite 14-100
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Here’s is Philpott’s press release from a couple of weeks ago:
Green Party candidate for Sheriff of McHenry County, Gus Philpott, has filed a complaint with McHenry County Clerk Katherine C. Schultz, asking her to remove Keith Nygren’s name from the November 2, 2010 General Election ballot in the race for Sheriff of McHenry County.
Nygren and his wife purchased a home in Cape Coral, Florida in September 2006. Although they declared it to be a “second home” in mortgage papers at Home State Bank (Crystal Lake, Ill.), Mrs. Nygren obtained a Florida driver’s license in 2006 and applied for the Florida Homestead Exemption on the Cape Coral home.
A requirement was that they give up the Illinois Homestead Exemption on their Hebron property. They “forgot” to do this until it came to light earlier in 2010 that they were claiming homestead exemptions in two states. The McHenry County Assessor quickly sent a letter to Florida officials that the homestead exemption was being removed from the Hebron property.
Nygren has claimed that only his wife is a Florida resident, but that he is not. How creative! The dollar amount of the Florida homestead exemption is substantially larger than the Illinois exemption, but the few dollars saved in real estate taxes should cost Nygren his eligibility to run for re-election.
Because the facts are already well-established and documented in McHenry County government records, he could be ruled ineligible in a matter of hours.