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Board tosses out challenges to Macomb candidates

Candidate A.J. Bauser testifying before the Macomb Electoral Board.
Rich Egger
Candidate A.J. Bauser testifying before the Macomb Electoral Board.

Three Macomb city council candidates had their nominating petitions challenged for improper paperwork. But the city’s electoral board rejected those challenges because the objectors failed to fill out their own paperwork properly.

The board ruled on Wednesday that objections to petitions should include a written statement of interest.

But in all three cases, the objectors failed to include that detail.

Mayor Mike Inman said the statement of interest could be pretty general. He said, for example, “I have an interest in this because of public transparency. (Or) I’m in this ward. I want to make sure the candidates that are applying for that – their nominating petitions, that they fill them out correctly.”

The ruling means Don Wynn and A.J. Bauser will remain on the ballot to run for an at-large position.

“I came in here fairly anxious today,” said Bauser after the meeting. “I know many people might be intimidated by this process, and I think by today’s results they’d be more willing to (run for office) now.”

Bauser’s petitions were challenged by current at-large city council member Tammie Leigh Brown-Edwards, whose seat is up for election in April.

Wynn’s paperwork was challenged by former McDonough County Voice Editor Michelle Langhout.

She said, “I had questions because I wondered why Mr. Wynn was running for that particular seat when he already had one (he currently serves as the third ward city council member). That’s what prompted me to ask the questions.”

Langhout also said candidates should follow the rules. Her challenge to Wynn’s petitions stated that he failed to number the papers and didn’t staple the pages together.

The other challenge was filed by Democratic McDonough County Board member Dana Walker, who objected to the petitions filed by Byron K. Oden in the third ward.

Oden will now run unopposed for that seat because the other person who filed for the position has since withdrawn.

The objectors can go to court to appeal the ruling.

Public comments criticize the objections

Three people addressed the board during its public comments section.

Jane Coplan of the League of Women Voters (LoWV) of McDonough County, who’s a former city council member, said she understands the letter of the law but felt the objections went against the spirit of the law. She said it would be unwise to eliminate candidates because of staples and page numbers.

Sally Egler, who’s also with the LoWV, said Wynn, Bauser, and Oden appeared to be targeted because no one inspected the nominating petitions for other candidates. Egler said the community should be encouraging people to run for office, and said the objections were mere technicalities. “Let the voters decide,” she said.

Dave Dorsett, who is running unopposed in the fourth ward, also said that knocking the candidates off the ballot would be akin to taking choices away from voters. He noted that none of the three objectors actually took their paperwork to city hall. Instead, Tim Frier of the Democratic Party of McDonough County collected and delivered their paperwork. Dorsett called it a coordinated effort to interject partisan politics into a nonpartisan election.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.