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January 22, 2019

1/9/2019 4:12:00 PM
Editorial: Equal Treatment Among School Board Candidates?

On Dec. 17, Nicholas Korzeniowski filed nomination papers to place himself on the ballot as a candidate for the District 65 School Board in the April 2 election. On Dec. 24, Suni Kartha, President of the District 65 School Board, filed objections, seeking to keep him off the ballot. On Jan. 9, a Hearing Officer issued a ruling in which he recommends that that Mr. Korzeniowski’s name not be on the ballot. See story in "Schools" section.

In light of the ruling, only three 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. All three are currently members of the School Board. Ms. Tanyavutti is currently Vice President of the Board. 

In her objections to Mr. Korzeniowski’s nominating papers, Ms. Kartha said her interest in filing the objections was “that of a voter desirous that the laws governing the filing of nomination papers for the office of Board of Education Member, Evanston/Skokie District 65, are properly complied with, and that only qualified candidates appear on the ballot for said office.”

In light of this statement, the RoundTable asked Ms. Kartha whether she reviewed the nomination papers of the other three people who are running for the District 65 School Board to determine if their nomination papers complied with the requirements of the Election Code.

Specifically, the RoundTable asked these two, among other, questions:

• “Did you review on or before December 24 the nomination papers filed by Sergio Hernandez to determine if his nomination papers complied with filing requirements of the Election Code? If so, what date? Did you notice that he had not numbered or consecutively numbered his petition for nomination sheets? If so, why did you not file objections to his nomination papers?

• “Did you review on or before December 24 the nomination papers filed by Anya Tanyavutti and Rebeca Mendoza to determine if they complied with the filing requirements of the Election Code?  If so, when?”

The RoundTable chose the Dec. 24 date because that is the date Ms. Kartha filed her objections to Mr. Korzeniowski’s nomination papers and that was the last date on which objections could be filed.

Ms. Kartha responded by email on Jan. 7. She said: “The candidate filings were shared with me, and while I would have overlooked technical errors, I exercised my right as a voter to challenge a grossly improper filing.”

On Jan. 8, the RoundTable sent a follow-up email to Ms. Kartha noting that her response did not indicate if she reviewed any of the other candidates’ nominating petitions on or before Dec. 24 to determine if they complied with the Election Code, and that the comment that “I would have overlooked technical errors” did not reflect whether she was aware prior to Dec. 24 that Mr. Hernandez’s petitions were not numbered or consecutively numbered, and, she did not say why she did object to his nomination petitions.

The RoundTable again asked Ms. Kartha to answer the questions listed above. Ms. Kartha responded, “I stand by my previous statements on this matter,” and she declined to provide any additional information.

It is thus unclear whether Ms. Kartha reviewed the three other candidates’ nomination papers before filing the objections to Mr. Korzeniowski’s nomination papers and before the time ran out to file objections.

A review of Mr. Hernandez’s nomination papers indicates that none of his Petition for Nomination sheets were numbered and none were consecutively numbered – which was one of the grounds relied upon by Ms. Kartha in objecting to Mr. Korzeniowski’s nomination papers.

Yet, Ms. Kartha did not challenge Mr. Hernandez’s nomination papers.

In her letter to the editor on page 7 of this paper, Ms. Kartha said in reference to Mr. Korzeniowski’s nomination papers that a failure to number and consecutively number the pages of the petition sheets, “while legally disqualifying, are a mere technicality that, in isolation, would likely not have raised my objection.” Ms. Kartha also said that Ms. Korzeniowski did not sign the petition sheets that he circulated, and that “the lack of attestation of petition signatures, however, is significant” and “calls into question the validity of the signatures he collected…” 

Ms. Kartha, however, did not object to Mr. Korzeniowski’s nomination papers solely on the ground that Mr. Korzeniowski failed to attest to the petition signatures. She also moved to strike all of his petition sheets on the ground they were not numbered or consecutively numbered. And in her objections, she argued this was a “mandatory” requirement. At her request, the Hearing Officer struck six nominating petition sheets filed by Mr. Korzeniowski on this ground.

The Hearing Officer struck four of Mr. Korzeniowski’s petition sheets on the additional ground that the sheets were not signed and properly notarized. Striking those four sheets would have been sufficient, standing alone, to keep Mr. Korzeniowski’s name off the ballot. But Ms. Kartha also raised the ground that the petition sheets were not numbered or numbered consecutively. And six sheets were stricken on that ground.

Not so with Mr. Hernandez.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Comment by: Megan Hughes

I am hoping someone will read Mr. Korzeniowski's very gracious letter on pg. 11 of the 1/10/19 Roundtable. In it, he admits that although no one mentioned it to him, and it sounds like at least 3 persons could have, he did review his filing papers and found that he had, in fact, absolutely made the mistakes that Mrs. Kartha objected to. In another comment on this situation, a woman made the point that each of these requirements, though they may seem silly, are there for a REASON. We do have rules that can't be ignored just because they seem to rule out a candidate that some people, or many people, support. She pointed out that they very carefully went over the document she was filing, I'm sorry I didn't get her name or the document purpose, to make sure they had done everything correctly, because one wrong signature, or missing signature, etc could disqualify them. I DO think it was NOT fair that the other candidates' nomination papers were not reviewed with as much scrutiny or perhaps not at all, AND they are already on the school board. I am very touched and honored that Mr. Korzeniowski has been so kind about this, and in his letter he says he's decided he will run again and get all of the papers right. I find myself wishing he would run for City Council, where aldermen who make honest mistakes admit it, and don't have to have FOIA requests ad nauseum to determine that oh my, they've actually been working against their constituents wishes for over a year, due to a wealthy donor that the citizens are kept completely in the dark about. This is not democracy, and neither is this school board race, Apparently there were similar problems with the members of the board who are running in an excellent opinion piece on pg. 6 the point is made that Mr. Hernandez also did not have his nomination sheets correctly numbered. So if NONE of the candidates followed the rules, as is likely the case, I am not confident in voting for any of them, especially when they prevented a new, seemingly very dedicated and concerned citizen from running. This isn't Wilmette, and these 3 board members should be ashamed of themselves. I assume it is possible to write in Mr. Korzeniowski's name as a candidate and if so, I intend to do so. SHAME ON THE D-65 SCHOOL BOARD!

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