Editorials

When bad laws keep good people from running for office

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton is a dentist who signed nominating petitions for one of his patients. Because she is a Democrat, a Cook County judge says Patton cannot run as a Republican for the Illinois Senate.
Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton is a dentist who signed nominating petitions for one of his patients. Because she is a Democrat, a Cook County judge says Patton cannot run as a Republican for the Illinois Senate. Provided

Hal Patton is a dentist in Edwardsville. One of his long-time patients, who also has been a family friend for more than 30 years, was at her appointment when she asked Patton to sign a nominating petition for her daughter-in-law, Katie Stuart, who also was a patient of Patton’s.

Stuart was running for state representative.

Patton has been a good Republican. He voted in Republican primaries in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016. He served on the Edwardsville City Council for six years, spent a decade as a Madison County Board member and since 2013 has served as Edwardsville’s mayor.

But because he signed his dental patient’s nominating petition at the request of his friend, Illinois law says he is not a real Republican. He was booted from the ballot to run as a Republican for the 56th State Senate seat because Stuart is a Democrat.

How is democracy furthered by stopping someone from supporting those they believe to be good people who want to enter public service? How are the voters served by removing a candidate from the ballot and leaving them with only the opposing party’s candidate?

The law may exist to keep candidates from being wolves in sheep’s clothing, but the clarity of both the law and the case law resulted in a split decision by the election board. Patton was tossed by a Cook County judge, even though all the players were from Madison County.

Illinois election law again serves the hyper-partisan domination of the party in power. Voters again get no choice, as was the case in more than 60 percent of the 2016 state legislative races.

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