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Jeffrey Smith, who has filed nominating petitions to run for Mayor in the April 4 election, says he filed objections on Dec. 27 to the nominating papers of the four other candidates for Mayor: Alderman Brian Miller, Alderman Mark Tendam, Gary Gaspard, and Steve Hagerty.

He says in a prepared statement that he believes the confusion starts with the belief by some that Evanston by law requires “nonpartisan” elections (e.g., elections in which the candidates do not run as candidates of the Democratic Party, the Republican Party or other parties). He says he has submitted an FOIA request asking the City to provide an ordinance providing that its elections are required to be held on a nonpartisan basis, and the City has not produced any such ordinance.

Mr. Smith maintains that if Evanston’s elections are not required to be held on a nonpartisan basis, the proper period to file nominating papers for Mayor was Dec. 12-19, rather than Nov. 21-28. He also maintains that if they are not required to be held on a nonpartisan basis, then “no primary is in order.”

The other four candidates for Mayor filed their nominating papers during the Nov. 21-28 filing period, while Mr. Smith filed his on Dec. 19.

In a prepared statement, Mr. Smith says, “The objections are not about the small inconsistencies that election officials can overlook, and boil down to this: 

• Mr. Hagerty filed a petition for a nonexistent nonpartisan election; filed during the filing period for a primary election that his petition doesn’t reference; and did not file a petition for direct placement on the April consolidated election ballot during the proper filing period. 

• Mr. Miller and Mr. Tendam did not identify their party/independent status as required; and filed their petitions during the wrong filing period if aiming to be independent candidates for the April 4, 2017 election, or else filed petitions for a nonexistent nonpartisan election.

 • Mr. Gaspard misidentified the election at which he seeks nomination, or, if he meant to seek direct placement on the April election ballot, did not file during the proper filing period.”

Mr. Smith said, “I also address in my objections the now-dysfunctional 1992 referendum scheme that was not used in the last multi-candidate Evanston mayoral race but that some seek to resurrect.”

 In the 1992 Referendum, Evanston voters decided to hold a primary for the Office of Mayor if more than two candidates filed for the position of Mayor. For Mr. Smith to succeed, he may need to show that the referendum, which was passed under Evanston’s home-rule powers, has no validity.

City Clerk Rodney Greene told the RoundTable that Evanston’s elections are held on a non-partisan basis, and that Mr. Smith’s objections would be heard by the Local Election Board. A date for the hearing has not yet been set.  

On Dec. 23, a few days before Mr. Smith filed his objections, Clerk Greene announced that there will be a primary election held on Feb. 28, with respect to the offices of Mayor and Alderman for the Fifth Ward. He said the candidates who are listed in the “uncertified ballot listing” for the Feb. 28 primary for Mayor are Ald. Miller, Ald. Tendam, Mr. Gaspard, Mr. Hagerty, and Mr. Smith.

If Mr. Smith knocks Ald. Miller, Mr. Tendam, Mr. Gaspard, and Mr. Hagerty off the ballot, there would be no need for a primary.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...