A special City electoral panel will convene on Dec. 7 to hear petition challenges in five races in next April’s municipal election, including the Third Ward, where Eric Young has filed petitions to run for alderman.

The Evanston Electoral Board hearing is to be held 9 a.m. over Zoom.

Supporters of Third Ward Alderman Melissa Wynne, including her husband, David Foster, and some neighbors, were among the names on one of the challenges filed relating to Mr. Young’s petitions.

The group’s petition alleges that Mr. Young’s papers failed to comply with Illinois Election law in a number of areas, including failing to provide space for signatures and using the date of the Consolidated General Election rather than the Primary Election, as specified in the filing form.

The group’s No. 1 objection is that Mr. Young’s papers ignored the mandatory binding requirements in their entirety.

“The mandatory nature of the binding requirements could not be clearer,” the group’s objection asserted.

“The Illinois Election Code unambiguously employs the mandatory term ‘shall,’ specifying that petition sheets ‘shall be neatly fastened together in book form.’ The law further emphasizes repeatedly the significance of these binding requirements by spelling out the procedure in painstaking detail.

“The binding requirement is in line with the overall effort to protect the integrity of Illinois elections,” the group said in its objection. “Unbounded petition sheets present opportunities for manipulation off the record.”

The objection, filed on behalf of the group by Mr. Foster, quoted Deputy City Clerk Eduardo Gomez in its filing that Mr. Young’s papers were filed “as a loose collection of papers with no effort at binding, much less an effort at securely fastening them together, in book form, along one edge.”

Asked about the complaint late in the day on Dec. 3, Mr. Young said that he had not been officially informed of the objection.

If an Electoral Board hearing is called, he said he would then plead his case. “If I made a mistake … if you’re going to start disenfranchising voters over a staple here and there, so be it,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate we’ve come to this,” he said, questioning whether the goals of a greater democratic society are served “to get names off the ballot” in the way the group did.

Mr. Young has served as Chef/Managing Partner of La Principal Mexican restaurant, 700 Main St. He is a 20-year resident of the Third Ward and former president of the Main-Dempster Mile Association, the group that advocates on behalf of some 60 businesses in the Main-Dempster area.

 Ald. Wynne, an attorney, has represented the Third Ward on the Evanston City Council since 1998.

The Evanston Electoral Board has been convened infrequently over the years around petition challenges. The Board consists of the Mayor, the City Clerk, and the senior alderman. The current Electoral Board members are Mayor Stephen Hagerty, City Clerk Devon Reid and Eighth Ward Alderman Ann Rainey.

Mr. Reid has raised concerns about the Electoral Board process, calling it “an inherent undemocratic and biased system and process,” and said Dec. 3 that he is considering recusing himself when the Board convenes its hearing Dec. 7 because of the system’s alleged inherent bias.

Besides Mr. Young’s case, there are four other petition challenges currently in front of the Board. The challenges are to petitions filed by Jane Grover in the City Clerk’s race, Alderman Eleanor Revelle in the Seventh Ward race, Rebeca Mendoza in the Fifth Ward race, and Shelley Carillo in the Eighth Ward race.

The RoundTable does not endorse any candidate for political office.

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.