A hearing officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections on Monday laid out the procedure for how he will review challenges to the candidacies of three St. Clair County judges.
The three circuit judges — John Baricevic, Robert Haida and Robert LeChien — have filed paperwork to retire in December 2016, but also are seeking to run as candidates in the November 2016 regular election. Normally, circuit judges are up for a retention vote every six years, where they’re required to get “yes” votes from at least 60 percent of voters. By running as candidates in a regular election, the three would need to receive only a simple majority of votes over any challenger.
The state election board’s hearing officer, attorney David Herman, held a conference Monday with an attorney representing the three judges and with the objector, Dallas Cook, who is Belleville’s city clerk. Cook is a Republican, while the three judges are Democrats.
Herman asked the parties to submit written arguments to him by Wednesday. The parties can then submit responses to those arguments by Friday.
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“I’ll give my recommendation to the board, and they will decide,” Herman said.
He predicted the board will issue its decision at its next meeting, Dec. 22.
The attorney representing the three judges is Michael Kasper, a high-profile election law attorney in Chicago. Kasper’s clients have included Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose residency in Chicago was challenged in the 2011 mayoral election.
After Monday’s conference, Cook said the tactic being employed by the three judges should be prohibited, because it will lead to other judges doing the same.
“The whole retention process will be avoided,” Cook said.
Baricevic has argued that running in a regular primary and general election submits the judges to even more voter scrutiny than a retention vote.