Judge sets Monday hearing date in Normal petition case
McLean County associate judge Scott Kording will hear oral arguments Monday in a judicial review aimed at settling whether a referendum question of districting the Town of Normal will be on the ballot this November.
Last month, the Normal Electoral Board rejected a petition effort at getting a yes-or-no question regarding districting Normal on the November ballot. The rejection came after Normal resident Patrick Dullard filed an objection to the petitioners.
The referendum would ask voters whether to replace the Normal Town Council’s at-large form of representative government with one that is district-based, similar to what Bloomington has with its wards.
David Shesktokas, representing petitioner Kathy Siracuse, took the matter to court earlier this month, prompting the judicial review process.
Initially, court dates were set for Friday, Sept. 16, and Friday, Sept. 23. But a motion filed by the McLean County State's Attorney's office on behalf of county clerk Kathy Michael said waiting that long put the office at risk of violating state and federal election laws.
Election code says the clerk must have ballots printed and available for mailing to military members and their voting-age families by Sept. 23. There is no provision to extend that deadline, according to the law.
During a Zoom hearing on Friday, assistant state's attorney Christopher Spanos said cutting the review so close to deadline would put "undue burden" on the clerk's office.
"All we're asking for is adequate time for the clerk to get the ballot in its final form to the printer, to be able to get those ballots back, and not have to do it twice," Spanos said. "If there's a ruling ... it's contrary to what she's done ... the county is going to incur an additional expense: Printing up new ballots either to supplement or substitute for the ballots that were already printed."
Kording agreed to move the hearing to 2:30 p.m. Monday to accommodate the request, acknowledging attorneys for either side may have to work quickly over the weekend to meet filing deadlines.
"I appreciate Mr. Spanos bringing to the court's attention these other considerations ... which I was completely ignorant of, in terms of the other deadlines," he said.
Kording told attorneys he will likely have many questions and will work to familiarize himself with the filings before Monday in an effort to expedite the ruling.
He said if he is unable to come a decision on Monday, he may call attorneys back Tuesday morning for a Zoom court date to issue the ruling.