Metro-East News

Washington Park mayor kicked off ballot — or was she?

One of two competing electoral boards in Washington Park kicked incumbent Mayor Ann Rodgers off of the upcoming April ballot, but Rodgers claims that board is illegal.

The electoral board created by statutes consists of the mayor, village clerk and the village board trustee with the most seniority. However, Rodgers and Village Clerk Rickie Thomas are both running for mayor, so they could not serve on the board that hears appeals to candidates’ petitions.

So Thomas said he went to St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida and asked him to create a new board. Haida appointed St. Clair County Board member Joan McIntosh to chair the new board, which also consisted of village trustees Clyde Jackson and Debbie Moore.

Rodger’s attorney, Eric Evans, says the board that kicked Rodgers off the ballot along with other members of her ticket is not the proper and legal board, therefore its actions were illegal.

In his petition to the courts for a judicial review, Evans wrote that Thomas “tried to take control of the board. ... Petitioners believe Rickie Thomas with assistance from attorney (Robert) Sprague, appeared before Judge Haida of the Circuit Court of St. Clair County and entered an order appointing Joan McIntosh to the election board of Washington Park and making her chairman.

“As noted by the court, Joan McIntosh is a citizen and resident of Washington Park, but has no other role in the village or the village’s governance or the village’s Electoral Board,” Evans’ petition said.

Neither Haida nor Sprague could be reached for comment.

“I made the request pursuant to Illinois statute under the election code. It indicated as the local election authority, I can request the ... judge to appoint a member of the public to the electoral board,” Thomas said.

McIntosh called a hearing for Jan. 4. “We showed up. Mayor Rodgers was the only person served. No one else was given notice and they didn’t show up,” Evans said.

In his petition to the court for judicial review, Evans said Rodgers filed an objection to the nomination papers of Ferris “Chilly” Williams. The document says, too, that Mary McKinney, a candidate for board trustee, objected to Rodger’s papers.

Evans said, he argued at the meeting that the board was not properly set up, but Sprague, according to Evans, said that the board was legal. Sprague was at the hearing chaired by Mcintosh, representing Thomas, McKinney and Williams.

McIntosh made the motion and the other members of the board also agreed the board was proper. He said he attempted to speak on Rodgers’ behalf and was not allowed to do so. Rodgers called the meeting a farce and left. Subsequently, Rodgers and her team were kicked off of the ballot. Evans said in his petition.

McIntosh could not be reached for comment.

Herod Hill, Shawn Newell, Marcus Henderson and Toni Whittaker, all members of Rodgers’ ticket, were kicked off of the ballot, Evans said.

Evans said he was told by the board that since he is the attorney for village board in Washington Park he could not represent Rodgers personally before the electoral board. “I asked for the law (that supported their claim), but I never got it,” Evans said.

Evans said on the same evening, Jan. 4, the original electoral board met and “nobody showed up, even though they all got notices.” In that meeting, Rodgers was left on the ballot, Evans said.

“We have two competing boards. We are waiting for our court hearing. We will see what the court has to say,” Evans said.

Thomas, the village clerk, disagreed that he should be a part of the electoral board.

“As a candidate, the statute is clear that I can’t serve on the board and neither can the mayor. We are both candidates for office,” Thomas said.

Thomas said he received the board’s decision in the mail and read that Rodgers was kicked off after she walked out of the meeting.

Thomas said the electoral board who took the action to remove Rodgers is legal but he expected that Rodgers would try to appeal the action.

Evans petition she if she is not put back on the ballot by the courts, Rodgers will have to run as a write-in candidate in the race for mayor.

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503