Metro-East News

Candidate challenges go to Madison County court; at least 30 write-in candidates register

Three court challenges to election petitions have removed one candidate from the ballot in Madison County, while two others have been reinstated. In addition, at least 30 people have registered as write-in candidates.

Kathy Goclan, R-Granite City, lost her race for the Madison County Board in November and then decided to run for township supervisor against longtime incumbent Bob Shipley.

Shipley, who is also executive director of the Metro-East Sanitary District, came to public notice after he crashed his district vehicle five times in three years. Each time, the repairs were conducted by Andy’s Auto Body and Towing in Madison, owned by the sanitary district’s board president, Andy Economy. Economy eventually resigned his office hours before the Madison County Board was to vote on his removal.

Goclan said in a prepared statement that she had collected more than 200 signatures to get her name on the April ballot to challenge Shipley. The minimum required signatures for nomination was 174.

But her petition was challenged by Patrick Davis, who Goclan said she had never met. Davis’ filing alleged that Goclan had put an incorrect date for the election and had not put her complete address on four of the nominating petition sheets.

Davis’ attorney, Eric Evans, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The election board, which was comprised of township clerk Judy Whitaker and trustees Don Thompson and Dan McDowell, ruled in Goclan’s favor on the issue of the dates, but in favor of Davis on the issue of an incomplete address.

Goclan, represented by attorney James Craney, appealed to Madison County Circuit Court. “I worked very hard to gather signatures and get my name on the ballot, and feel that the political novice needs to stand up to the political machine if we’re ever going to move forward with new, common-sense ideas in our community,” she said.

However, Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison ruled in Davis’ favor, which removed her from the ballot. Goclan still has the option of a write-in campaign, which she said she is considering.

“I know the political insiders think they’ve won,” Goclan said. “However, I’m strongly considering a write-in campaign if it’s at all feasible. The political machine in Granite City is in dire need of new ideas and fresh faces.”

Two other cases were sent to the courts in recent weeks. DeMarque Crochrell Sr. and James Riskovsky Sr., who are both running for an alderman seat on the Madison City Council, had challenged each other’s petitions. Crochrell was removed by the electoral board, but reinstated by Madison County Circuit Judge Ron Flack on Tuesday, reversing the decision of the electoral board. The electoral board had upheld Riskovsky’s petition, and the court affirmed that. Both men will appear on the ballot.

Crochrell could not be immediately reached for comment. Riskovsky declined to comment, other than to say that he and Crochrell were both pleased with the result and that there is no animosity between them going forward.

Madison County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza said there have been numerous challenges, but only those three have gone to court. While early voting officially began Thursday at the county administration building, the election will take place April 4.

Historically turnout is very light for a municipal election, Ming-Mendoza said, but there is a countywide sales tax referendum and a property tax referendum in Edwardsville, which she said might spur turnout.

High number of write-ins

There are 30 registered write-in candidates this year, which Ming-Mendoza termed “absolutely higher” than standard for a municipal or a general election.

“People are starting to notice that there are seats with no candidates,” she said. There are even write-in candidates in Williamson, she said, which only saw a voter turnout of 18 in the last municipal election.

But a write-in candidate can’t just get on the ballot with a single vote and no opposition. They must be registered write-ins, and they must receive at least as many votes as the minimum signatures required for the petition to get on the ballot.

For Edwardsville Township, that’s nearly 200, Ming-Mendoza said. But they have two candidates and nine registered write-ins for township trustee. Edwardsville also has the 55-cent education fund tax referendum and the countywide sales tax referendum. “It could be high turnout in Edwardsville,” Ming-Mendoza said.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald