Metro-East News

Parks knocked off March ballot because he owed $125,000 in unpaid election fines

East St. Louis Township Supervisor Alvin Parks
East St. Louis Township Supervisor Alvin Parks

East St. Louis Township Supervisor Alvin Parks has been kicked off the March 20 Democratic primary ballot for precinct committeeman because he owes $125,000 in unpaid fines for failing to file timely campaign contribution reports, according to a spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Parks, a former East St. Louis mayor and city manager, stopped filing the required quarterly reports in 2011 and was fined $5,000 for each failure, said Matt Dietrich of the state board.

At the time Parks was elected township supervisor in April 2017, he owed about $95,000 in unpaid administrative fines. State law provides that a candidate who owes fines cannot be certified for an election and therefore cannot appear on the ballot.

But uncertainty at the state board at the time as to how to interpret what action should be taken to enforce the unpaid fines statute allowed Parks to remain on the supervisor’s ballot and take office when he won, Dietrich said.

Parks declined to comment. But in a letter dated Feb. 3 to members of the East St. Louis Central Committee, he stated that he would not run for re-election as a committeeman from Precinct 23.

“I have arrived at this decision due to personal circumstances,” the letter stated. Parks promised to remain active politically, “... but not as a candidate.”

East St. Louis Township Supervisor Alvin Parks

Parks’ opponent in the precinct committeeman race was Lakeisha Adams, a member of the District 189 School Board who holds two jobs at the township where Parks is her boss. She is the human resources director and assistant township clerk. The amount of her salary was not immediately available. Adams is now running unopposed.

Kandrise Mosby, an office supervisor at the East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, said her local board sought guidance from the state board just before the supervisor’s election last year. According to a copy of an email from Tom Newman, director of the Division of Campaign Disclosure, the way was cleared for Parks to be elected township supervisor when he paid a small, recent fine levied by the state election board that was not directly connected to the then estimated $95,000 that had accrued for six years.

“Mr. Parks came in and paid his fine a few minutes ago, He therefore currently has no outstanding penalties with us,” Newman said in an email dated Jan. 25, 2017.

But after the township supervisor election, Newman issued an memo Aug. 1 to the members of the state board and its director, asking that the board approve a modified method of enforcing the much larger fines for ignoring the requirement to file quarterly campaign disclosure reports.

“This proposal would close a frustrating loophole and allow us to enforce the Disclosure Act in a more current ongoing fashion,” Newman wrote in the August letter. The state election board approved the measure.

It is this action that required Parks to now pay $125,000 or face being dropped from the March precinct committeeman election.

Parks would not be able to run for re-election as township supervisor in 2021, or any other elected office, if he still owed all or part of the $125,000.

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk