SPRINGFIELD – By 34 signatures, Democrat Thomas Boken Jr. of DeKalb will be on the general election ballot for the 90th House District.
The State Officers Electoral Board on Monday rejected an objection to Boken’s candidacy filed by Lee County Republican Party Chairman Greg Witzleb.
He had objected to 178 of Boken’s 594 signatures, saying that some were not genuine, that some signers lived out of the district or were not registered at the address given, and that some listed incomplete addresses.
Witzleb, a Dixon resident who serves on the Lee County Board, also said Boken’s petitions did not have consistent headings.
Hearing officer Phil Krasny agreed that 60 of the signatures didn’t meet requirements.
That left Boken with 534 valid signatures. He needed at least 500.
Democratic leaders chose Boken to run against Tom Demmer of Dixon in the redrawn district, which includes parts of Lee, Ogle, DeKalb and LaSalle counties. Demmer won the Republican primary in March. No Democrats ran in the primary.
“It’s unusual that ... with 594 signatures, he survived,” electoral board spokesman Jim Tenuto said.
Krasny also found that although there were some inconsistencies in other signatures, they were valid under the doctrine of “substantial compliance.”
Election boards and courts tend to avoid denying ballot access for technical issues, Krasny wrote in his findings and recommendation report.
Boken criticized the Demmer campaign for what he called “dirty politics,” adding that the objection probably was filed as “a way to keep us tied up fighting these types of frivolous challenges.”
A motion filed by Boken’s attorney, Michael J. Kasper, said the objection over inconsistent headings was “the ultimate exercise in putting form over substance.”
Witzleb, Kasper wrote, “takes issue with slight [and completely meaningless] ariations in the prefatory paragraph – none of which have the slightest consequence.”
Demmer said he was not involved in the objection, but said Witzleb did tell him about it before it was filed.
As party chairman,
Witzleb is responsible for looking at the petitions, Demmer added.
“There’s specific rules they set up for filing petitions,” Demmer said. “They’re the same rules we had to go through. ...
“Now that they’re in line, we have a campaign ahead of us. It’s not going to change the message that we’re going to bring to Springfield.”
Demmer and Boken are seeking the seat being vacated by state Rep. Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling, who is retiring after serving for 18 years.