On Jan. 3, 2019, Hearing Officer Christopher Cohen held an initial hearing on Suni Kartha’s objections to the nominating petitions filed with the Cook County Clerk’s Office by Nicolas Korzeniowski. The nominating petitions asked that Mr. Korzeniowski be placed on the April 2 ballot as a candidate for the District 65 School Board. Mr. Cohen set the matter for hearing on Jan. 9 at 10 a.m.

Ms. Kartha, President of the District 65 School Board, filed her objections on Dec. 24, and asks for a “ruling that the name of Nicholas Korzeniowski shall not appear and not be printed on the ballot for election to the office of Board of Education Member, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, to be voted at the Consolidated Elections to be held on April 2, 2019.”

Ms. Kartha’s objections do not say that she is President of the School Board or that she is filing in that capacity, but say that her “interest in filing this Petition is that of a voter desirous that the laws governing the filing of nomination papers for the office of Board of Education member, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, are complied with, and that only qualified candidates appear on the ballot for said office.”

Ms. Kartha was not at the hearing on Jan. 3, but her attorney, Scott Erdman, was present to represent her. When Hearing Officer Cohen asked Mr. Erdman to explain Ms. Kartha’s objections, Mr. Erdman said that the candidate, Mr. Korzeniowski, failed to number six of the eight nominating petition sheets that he filed, and that two of the nominating petition sheets were out of sequence. He added that “the candidate also failed to sufficiently notarize any of the sheets that he circulated.” Mr. Erdman further said that if these nominating petition sheets were stricken, the number of signatures required to be on the ballot would be less than the number required. He did not further explain the nature of the objections.

Mr. Erdman’s explanation of the objections was similar to that provided in the RoundTable article published online on Dec. 29. That article said, “In her objections to Mr. Korzeniowski’s nominating petitions, Ms. Kartha says that Mr. Korzeniowski did not consecutively number the pages of his petitions. The objections also state none of the four sheets circulated by the candidate were property notarized, and that they should be stricken.”

In response to the Hearing Officer’s question, Mr. Korzeniowski said he planned to proceed with the hearing without a lawyer and that he did not plan to file a motion to strike of dismiss the objections.

The Hearing Officer said he planned to issue a ruling at the hearing on Jan. 9.

If Ms. Kartha is successful in keeping Mr. Korzeniowski from appearing as a candidate on the ballot, only three persons’ names will appear on the ballot in the April 2 election which is being held to fill three positions on the District 65 School Board: Anya Tanyavutti, Sergio Hernandez, and Rebeca Mendoza, who are all incumbents. Ms. Tanyavutti is currently Vice President of the School Board.  

A review of the nominating petitions filed by Mr. Hernandez reflects that they were not numbered or numbered consecutively.

The first point raised by Ms. Kartha’s objections is that Section 10-4 of the Election Code says that the petitions for nomination that are filed must be fastened together “and the sheets shall then be numbered consecutively.” The objections state that Mr. Korzeniowski submitted 8 petition sheets “and only two of them are numbered. Those sheets are numbered ‘2’ and ‘1’ which are not consecutive numbers.” The objections say that the requirement is mandatory, citing case law, and say, “Each petition sheet that is not numbered should be stricken from the candidate’s nominating petition. Each numbered petition that is not consecutively numbered should be stricken from the nominating petition.”

The second point raised by Ms. Kartha’s objections states as follows in paragraph 7:

“7. Section 10-4 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-4) provides in part that petitions for nomination shall be signed and sworn to by the circulator before a notary. None of the four (4) sheets circulated by the candidate were properly notarized. The circulator’s affidavit at the bottom of each sheet is defective because it lacks the State and County where the swearing took place, the circulator’s name, street address, city, Zip Code, county or state. The only indication as to the identity of the circulator comes from portion completed by the notary wherein the candidate’s name has been written in. Further, the notary, Suzanne S. Batch indicates that the sheet was “Signed and sworn to (or affirmed by Nicholas Korzeniowski before me, on 12/13/18. The notarization of Suzanne S. Batch fails because there is no signature on the petition’s jurat. Each of the sheets where the circulator is identified by the notary as Nicholas Korxeniowski are invalid and should be stricken.”

The objections state, “After the mandatory striking of the deficient petitions as mandated by Section 10-4 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-4), the candidate has no remaining valid signatures.” Having no valid signatures means that the candidate has insufficient signatures to be placed on the ballot and his entire petition fails.”

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...