The City’s Electoral Board has granted a continuance in a case brought against Third Ward Aldermanic candidate Eric Young for improper binding of his petitions and some other petition infractions until Thursday, and ruled similarly for other candidates facing petition challenges.

At its meeting this morning, held via Zoom, the three-member board – composed of Mayor Stephen Hagerty, City Clerk Devon Reid, and Senior Alderman Ann Rainey – voted 2-1 in favor of Mr. Young’s request for a continuance.  Mr. Young is Chef/Managing Partner of La Principal Mexican restaurant and former president of the Main-Dempster Mile Association.

At Monday’s hearing, Third Ward Alderman Melissa’ Wynne’s husband, David Foster, an attorney, led the case on behalf of neighbors who had filed one of the objections against Mr. Young.

The group’s petition alleged that Mr. Young’s papers failed to comply with petition-filing requirements as set under Illinois election law, including failing to meet mandatory binding requirements in their entirety and being filed in loose form.

At the hearing, Clerk Reid supported Mr. Foster’s request to hear the case at that day’s hearing, describing it as  “a very simple and short objection,” to be considered. Mayor Hagerty supported Mr. Young’s request through his attorney, David Dale, for time to prepare his case, maintaining he “still has not been served.” Ald. Rainey agreed with Mayor Hagerty.

Mr. Young said he had received an email from Corporation Counsel Kelley Gandurski Sunday evening, Dec. 6, officially informing him of his hearing.

Speaking on behalf of Mr. Young, Mr. Dale pointed out that Mr. Young was required to be served notice through process, either through certified mail or through the Sheriff’s office.

“I believe there’s some comments made earlier in the meeting that I heard that efforts were made by the Sheriff,” he said, “[but] what I think was clear for the record is that no service was ever made.

“I understand we’re operating under an expedited schedule,” he told the Board, “but that doesn’t mean that we waive the obligatory right to process for our petitioners.”

Ms. Gandurski maintained the agenda to the meeting has been posted on the City’s website since Friday, Dec. 4, and said also that the City Clerk maintained a public data base where the information could be seen.

Other candidates whose cases followed Mr. Young’s also reported problems with receiving proper notice; they also won continuances until 9 a.m. on Dec. 10.

Rebeca Mendoza, a candidate for alderman in the Fifth Ward, claimed failure of notice, telling the Board she has been at home in quarantine and “I have not left my house for 12 days.” 

She said she found out about the hearing at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6, and had not had time to prepare a case.

A City representative at the meeting reported that the Sheriff’s Office had delivered notice to an address on Dec. 4 but that no contact was made.

“That’s not my address,” Ms. Mendoza told the Board after the address was read aloud.

Board members agreed to continue the case.

During brief testimony at the Dec. 7 hearing, Ms. Mendoza spoke to an objection similar to that against Mr. Young  alleging that she had turned in papers in loose form.

When she appeared to file her papers, Ms. Mendoza said, she asked Eduardo Gomez, the City’s Deputy Clerk, whether he had a stapler.

She said when he said “No,” she began looking through her pockets to find an object to perforate her papers and testified she was told by Mr. Gomez, “That’s okay. You don’t need to do it – you can just give them to me, as it is.”

“It was my intention to staple my petitions,” she told the Board. With no stapler on the table, “when he told me that,” she related, “I naively assumed that he would, at some point, staple them.”

After Ms. Mendoza’s testimony, Mr. Gomez was asked whether he told the candidate to file papers without binding them.

“No,” responded Mr. Gomez. “What I meant by my comments is that anyone is welcome to turn in petitions as they see fit.”

Ms. Mendoza called Shelley Carillo, a candidate for Eighth Ward alderman, as a witness to what she saw. Ms. Carillo said she was at the Civic Center at the same time, waiting to file papers for her race.

“I do remember seeing you asking for a stapler,” Ms. Carillo testified, “and I do remember hearing Mr. Gomez say that it was okay for you to turn in your paperwork as it was.”

These and other objections to petitions will be heard at the Dec. 10 meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. 

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.