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Judge to hear cases of 3 Normal residents in election dispute

Tom DeVore.jpg
Lyndsay Jones
WGLT file
Tom Devore, left, a recent Republican candidate for state attorney general, at a hearing on behalf of Robert Shoraga, Charles Sila and Amy Conklin.

The matter of whether three people can run for offices in Normal that are currently non-elective is now in the hands of the McLean County Circuit Court.

Former Republican state attorney general candidate Tom DeVore filed a lawsuit against the Town of Normal and Clerk Angie Huonker earlier this month on behalf of three residents — two of whom filed nominating petitions for nonexistent offices, and one of whom filed to run for a non-elected office.

Robert Shoraga and Charles Sila are attempting to run for town supervisor and town collector, two offices that do not currently exist within the town's city manager form of government. Amy Conklin is attempting to run for town clerk, a position that has historically been appointed.

Shoraga told WGLT in a previous interview that he had been recruited to run for the nonexistent office by "friends in politics" who suggested Normal needed the position of town supervisor in order to be in compliance with state municipal code.

A spokesperson for the Illinois State Board of Elections said he had "never heard" of people filing nominating petitions for offices that do not exist at the time of filing; town officials shortly thereafter referred the matter to Chicago-based attorney Michael Kasper of Kasper and Nottage P.C.

Shoraga, Sila and Conklin received letters from Kasper in December indicating the town's legal counsel had determined there was no legal basis for them to be on the ballot come April 4.

Two other Normal residents, Patrick Dullard and longtime former council member Jeff Fritzen, filed objections to the three petitions, triggering formation of the Normal Electoral Board.

Typically, the board hears objections against petitions and then reviews the objections before issuing a ruling on whether a candidate can be on the ballot. Town spokesperson Cathy Oloffson said additional hearings are on hold and the board is now "recessed pending the outcome" of the court cases filed by Shoraga, Sila and Conklin.

DeVore's filings argue Huonker and the town as a municipality "have no discretion to refuse to certify" the petitions; the filings also revive a previous legal argument regarding Normal's status as an incorporated town. Shoraga and Sila said in previous interviews they believed the town was required by municipal code to have the offices for which they are running, and that had been among their motivations when they filed to run.

In addition to Kasper, the town has brought on municipal law attorney Jason Guisinger of Chicago-based firm Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins as legal counsel.

A hearing date is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20. Eleventh Circuit Judge Mark Fellheimer is expected to preside over the hearing.

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Lyndsay Jones is a reporter at WGLT. She joined the station in 2021. You can reach her at lljone3@ilstu.edu.
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