Metro-East News

Cahokia Mayor McCall stays on April ballot after objection dropped

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The 2019 municipal election is April 2. Here are some key dates and times you need to know if you're planning to vote.

Cahokia Mayor Curtis McCall, Jr. will stay on the April ballot after an objection filed by his opponent was dropped.

Mayoral candidate Donna Ayres had objected to McCall as well as other candidates running with him on a slate.

The decision to withdraw was made after an attorney for McCall brought up an issue the objections brought up by Ayres.

“I believe they put forth a credible argument and I’m not going to use up anybody’s time with arguments I don’t believe would persevere,” said Paul Evans, the attorney for Ayres.

Evans said he had based his “argument on individual candidacies, and they argued on different sections of law on team candidacies should apply.”

McCall wouldn’t comment on Ayres and her objections specifically.

“These types of hearings are just a normal part of the election process, sometimes,” McCall said. “Anytime you apply for something and you find out you got approved it’s always a good feeling. I think at this point I’m ready to move on with the next phase of the election process.”

Curtis McCall Jr
Cahokia Mayor Curtis McCall Jr. Derik Holtmann BND file photo

Before announcing the objection withdrawal, St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook, State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly and Circuit Clerk Kahalah Clay, who were ruling on the cases for Cahokia, started hearing the objections against members of McCall’s slate. Chet Kelly, attorney for members of McCall’s slate, asked for the objection to be dismissed.

Chet Kelly argued that Ayres had objected multiple trustees, but could object to no more than one trustee candidate because Cahokia is divided into trustree districts. She could only object to a trustee candidate in her own district.

After a brief recess, Evans announced Ayres would withdraw the objections, including one against McCall’s candidacy, Village Clerk Richard Duncan, current trustees Jeffery Radford and Gloria Ware and trustee candidate Audra Baker.

Objections Jeffery K. Radford and Audra Baker filed against the Cahokia Hometown Team Party were upheld, which led to Robert Whitworth, who filed to run for mayor, Jami Saito, who filed to run for village clerk, and Jessica McClelland, Susan Reed and Beverly Schrum who filed to run for trustees, being thrown off the ballot.

Chet Kelly, who represented Radford and Baker, said the slate didn’t have enough valid signatures. Kelly said nearly 35 of the signatures submitted were from people who were not registered to vote or were not registered to vote at the address listed on the candidate petitions.

McClelland and Whitworth argued they were registered and they had used a 2016 “walk list” provided by the St. Clair County Clerk’s office. They said they found inaccuracies in that list.

“I went through this item by item,” McClelland said. “It’s not untypical for the county to make mistakes.”

However after determining that only a handful of the signatures brought up by Chet Kelly were really valid, the slate was still under the required amount to make the ballot.

“We knew we weren’t going to get a fair (expletive) election,” McClelland said in an outburst after the decision.

In other action, trustee candidate Elmer Jennings and Trenise Hill, were thrown off the ballot because when they filed their petitions they did not specify which districts they planned to run in.

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.