COLLINSVILLE — Bryce Lickfield will not be on the ballot, but he intends to run for the Unit 10 school board anyway.
Lickfield, 17, is a senior at Collinsville High School and recently filed papers to run for the Unit 10 school board, because he will be 18 before the spring election.
He sent in his petitions and various paperwork associated with the school board race, including a statement of economic interest required by the Illinois ethics codes.
However, he filed the statement in St. Clair County. The district office is near Main Street, which is in Madison County.
Former board candidate Oden Rice filed an objection to Lickfield's candidacy, arguing that he should have filed the statement in Madison County. On Friday, the Unit 10 electoral board voted to sustain Rice's objection and remove Lickfield from the ballot.
"I commend you for wanting to get involved," board member Wayne White told Lickfield. "If it were up to me, I'd say the voters should decide ... but this is simply a matter of black and white, what the law is."
Rice said his objection was not to Lickfield himself, but insisted that procedures must be followed. Lickfield argued that because the school district covers both counties, it was a special case.
"The misunderstanding is trivial at best," he said.
However, the statute indicated that it is the street address of the taxing body's main office that decides which county should receive the paperwork, according to board attorney Barney Mundorf.
Lickfield also cited two cases in Cook County where a candidate remained on the ballot even though he had forgotten to file the form entirely or filed with a county commissioner instead of county clerk.
However, those cases were older, Mundorf said, and the recent case law upheld the interpretation that Lickfield was required to file in Madison County.
Failure to do so meant that Lickfield was ineligible to remain on the ballot.
"I'm flattered and astonished that someone would find me as a threat for this race," Lickfield said. He said he did not expect the rules to be so specific and assumed he could file in St. Clair County because he lives in and attends a high school in St. Clair County.
Lickfield vowed to continue his campaign as a write-in candidate.
The composition of the electoral board is decided by state statute. Ordinarily, board president Gary Peccola would chair the board, but he is disqualified because he also is running in the spring election. His seat was to be filled by the next most senior member, which meant either Gary Clark or Jane Soehlke. Clark was chosen by lot, and chaired the electoral board, which also included Ron Throm and Wayne White.
Throm told Lickfield that this was a paperwork detail that easily could have escaped him, as well. White told Lickfield not to let this decision discourage him from his interest in public office.
"I admire what you're trying to do," Clark told him. "But I have to go by what's in black and white."
Rice also argued that Lickfield should be removed from the ballot because he left two spaces blank on his form: the county and the date of the election.
But that was more discretionary, according to Mundorf; the board merely had to determine whether the missing information would confuse the voters to the extent they could not tell for what office Lickfield was running.
The board unanimously denied that argument, but affirmed the removal on the first.
One resident spoke at the hearing, stating that he did not believe Lickfield was old enough to be qualified for the board.
Rice acknowledged Lickfield's academic achievements and said he thinks he has a bright future, but believes everyone must run by the letter of the law in Illinois. Rice ran for the school board in 2011 but did not run this year.
"I'm too busy to run for office right now," he said.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2501.