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Judge's ruling removes 5 Republican County Board candidates from June's primary ballot

John McIntyre
Emily Bollinger
/
WGLT
Wednesday's decision impacts two incumbents, McLean County Board chair John McIntyre, pictured, and Catherine Metsker, and newcomers Hannah Blumenshine, Annette Fellows and Vicki Schultz.

A judge has rejected a McLean County Electoral Board ruling, meaning five Republican County Board candidates are removed from the June primary ballot for not numbering pages on their nominating petitions.

Jim Ginzkey, the attorney for the candidates, said after Wednesday's court hearing that he’s advising them not to appeal. The candidates can still file as write-ins and have their names included on the general election ballot.

The decision impacts two incumbents, board chair John McIntyre (District 5, north central and east Normal) and Catherine Metsker (District 1, northern McLean County), and newcomers Hannah Blumenshine (District 5), Annette Fellows (District 9, south Bloomington) and Vicki Schultz (District 8, west Bloomington).

McIntyre, who was seated next to Ginzkey during the hearing, declined comment after the hearing. Attempts to reach Metsker after the meeting were not immediately successful.

Circuit judge Jonathan Wright said in his ruling on Wednesday that the candidate "has to make some effort to comply" with eligibility requirements.

Ginzkey had argued the errors were technical and did not impact the integrity of the election. Ginzkey said after the hearing he believes the petitions should still be valid because failing to number petitions of between four to seven pages should not cause any confusion.

"The pagination requirement is a lot more relevant in Cook County where you have to have 25,000 signatures on a petition in order to get on the ballot. That is dramatically different than the requirements down here," Ginzkey said.

There were seven objections filed against the five candidates. The objectors included county board member Shayna Watchinski, and Jill Blair, Anna Darrow, Cara McMorris and Sarah Breeden.

The objectors' attorney, Greg Moredock, argued in court that the petitions need to meet the legal threshold of substantial compliance and the objectors don't need to prove fraud or tampering.

"No compliance can't constitute substantial compliance," said Moredock.

"We are thankful that (the judge) took the time to look at the case law and to give a well-reasoned decision," Moredock said after the hearing.

According to the McLean County Clerk's office, the five candidates have until June 21 to file as write-in candidates for the June primary. If a candidate gets 24 write-in votes, their name will appear on the general election ballot in November. The candidates are not in contested primaries.

In a statement, McLean County Republican Party chair Connie Beard blamed Democrats for playing "the same tired political games."

"Nothing was gained by this action," Beard said. "Time and tax dollars spent to remove candidates was such a waste as there are options available to the candidates and our Republican Party to make sure they are still on the ballot in November. It was apparent that since two of their own party candidates had the same errors on their petitions, this course of action was not an exercise in election integrity but just the same old petty partisan politics. Voters are looking for candidates that will serve them with integrity and not play the same tired political games.”

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