Objectors filed appeals in Cook County Circuit Court last week asking the court to overrule the local Electoral Board’s Dec. 10 decision and remove aldermanic candidates Eric Young in the Third Ward and Rebeca Mendoza in the Fifth from the ballot for the April 6, 2021, municipal election.

In separate filings, attorney Ed Mullen filed objectors’ appeals Dec. 14 to the Cook County Circuit Court, asking the court to overturn the Evanston Electoral Board decisions.

In the Third Ward race, the objector, Miles Davis, maintained that Mr. Young had failed the mandatory requirement that his nomination papers be securely fastened in book form.

He maintained that that the Electoral Board – composed of the mayor, Stephen Hagerty, the senior alderman, Ann Rainey, and the City Clerk, Devon Reid – had applied the wrong legal standard of “substantial compliance” on whether the candidates papers were securely fastened, rather than using the “strict compliance” standard required under the law.

Mr. Davis further argued that the Electoral Board’s finding that Mr. Young’s papers were submitted in a manila envelope ran contrary to the evidence and testimony, including that of Mr. Young himself, that the nomination papers were submitted in a manila folder with one edge and no pockets or fasteners.

In weighing against Mr. Davis’s original objection, Electoral Board members had found Mr. Young in substantial compliance and noted that there were no allegations or concerns of fraudulent activity on Mr. Young part raised on the part of the objectors.

In addition, the Board found that the City’s Deputy Clerk informed the candidate that he could turn his nominating papers in “as is.”

In the appeal of the Electoral Board’s decision on Ms. Mendoza, Willy Jefferson, a longtime Democratic Party of Evanston precinct worker in the Fifth Ward, also challenged the Electoral Board’s decision of “substantial compliance,” in the candidate’s filing of her nomination papers as opposed to the “strict compliance,” standard in the State Election Code.

“Even if ‘substantial compliance’ were the appropriate standard,” Mr. Mullen wrote in his brief, “the Objector contends that the candidate did not substantially comply with the mandatory binding requirement and the fact that she was not able to find a stapler in the Clerk’s office to bind her petitions even though she knew they were supposed to be bound does not constitute substantial compliance.”

In her testimony at her hearing, in which Ms. Mendoza represented herself, Ms. Mendoza maintained that she had brought her paperwork with her to the office used for filings and had asked the Deputy Clerk for a stapler.

She testified that she was searching through her pockets for a fastener, and was looking for something to perforate the papers when the Deputy Clerk informed her she could hand in the papers as is.

The Court’s decision on the appeals, which could take place as early as Dec. 22, could have a major bearing on next year’s election.

In the Third Ward, which includes the lakefront and parts of the Main-Dempster district, Mr. Young, the former president of the Main-Dempster Mile Association and chef/owner of La Principal restaurant at 700 Main St., is one of two challengers to Melissa Wynne, who has held the aldermanic seat since 1998.

In the west side Fifth Ward, meanwhile, Ms. Mendoza would be part of a four-candidate field vying to fill the aldermanic seated being vacated by Robin Rue Simmons.

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.