Kyles to remain on ballot in Champaign

Kyles to remain on ballot in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign City council member Will Kyles will appear on the spring ballot as a candidate for District 1 in the wake of an electoral board's conclusion that former Mayor Dan McCollum did not have standing to object to his candidacy.

In a 2 to 1 vote Friday morning, the three-member board of Mayor Don Gerard, City Clerk Marilyn Banks and council member Michael La Due agreed with the recommendation of hearing officer Fred Stavins that McCollum couldn't legally object because he is not a resident of the district that Kyles will represent if Kyles is elected in April.

Kyles will face former city council member Gina Jackson, who is also running for the District 1 seat.

With the decision apparent, McCollum excused himself a few minutes before the hearing was over, saying he had to leave on a trip. He thanked the board members and shook Kyles' hand.

"I realize I may possibly be not entitled to make the challenge but I'm not sorry I did," he told the board earlier.

McCollum had challenged the validity of Kyles' petitions, claiming that 81 of the 134 signatures were either not registered voters, not registered at the addresses listed on the petition, or that the person named on the petition was not the one who signed the name. He told the board he felt the petitions were "grievously deficient."

In making his recommendation, Stavins, the city attorney, said the election statute is clear that an objector must live in the district of the candidate in order to file an objection.

Kyles' attorney, Bob Auler of Urbana, presented a certified letter from Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten which listed McCollum's address on West Church Street as being in District 4 as a result of a redistricting ordinance approved by the council. For the past 10 years, it's been part of District 1 and Kyles serves as McCollum's elected representative on the city council.

"Redistricting causes confusion the year before it's implemented. What's very clear is redistricting is necessary. It's constitutionally required," he said, adding that for purposes of the "election cycle" the new districts are in effect now.

"So when a candidate files for the primary in February and election in April, the new boundaries are effective," he explained.

But that notion troubled La Due, who cast the vote against Stavins' recommendation.

"In my mind, it (the election cycle) starts when the candidate has filed," said La Due, who said he didn't believe that a successful filing had been made prior to the electoral board's decision.

"How you can be a constituent and not an elector is interesting," La Due said. "What is your standing as a constituent?"

After the hearing, Kyles said he was not upset that McCollum had filed the objection and said he was anxious to get on with running his campaign.

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Mothers Against Drunk Driving wrote on December 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm

What we have here is some politically connected white dude who doesn't live in the district telling the African American community who is allowed to run for office to represent their neighborhood, and some punk City Council member who doesn't see a problem with that.

Nice to see such "pillars" of our community trying to forcefeed minorities a helping of Jim Crow.


SaintClarence27 wrote on December 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Except he did live in the district, and still does. He just won't come the new election.

787 wrote on December 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Nice of you to try and craft this into a "race" issue....


45solte wrote on December 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Who is qualified to contest it?  Any resident living in District 1?  This hardly resolves the ethical issue in question (not that anybody really cares much about that in the realm of politics).  Did Mr. Kyles obtain signatures fraudulently or not?  He signed off on them.  No candidate should be able to privilege themselves of by-passing proper procedure, you would think.  If fairness matters, that is.

rsp wrote on December 15, 2012 at 3:12 am

According to the statute even if there is a problem with standing if there is considered to be an issue with the petitions of such import they can still take up the case. As someone who lives in district 1 I wish they had bothered to find out if Kyles had commited a crime. I've also been unable to find anything that establishes when the redistricting takes affect. McCollum lives in district 1, if he needed assistance he would be directed to Kyles. Between now and voting hasn't he been disenfranchised?

The_4-1-1 wrote on December 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm

The problem with the Board of Election jurisdiction is that they are limited to certain rules, regulations and penalties. The Board has no power, in of itself, to prosecute criminal acts. Therefore, the most that would have happened Friday would have been that Mr. Kyles name would not have been on the ballot. There were enough unregistered voters on the nomination petitions to have removed Mr. Kyles name, and because of that, the remaining signatures in question didn't have to be argued. 

Having said that, the Board did have the power to send the nomination petitions to an investigative branch to determine if any criminal acts had been committed that were prosecutable. However, because the residency technicality prevailed, the Board was not able to hear Mr. McCollum's evidence.

So, can the nomination petitions of Mr. Kyles ever be reviewed by an agency or branch of government that does have jurisdiction to investigate and answer the burning question, "Who should we believe, Mr. McCollum calling Mr. Kyles petitions 'grievously deficient', or Mr. Kyles who said that he collected the signatures in good faith?"

The answer is, "Yes." The problem is no one has ever pursued this matter beyond the Board of Election hearing, sans appeals, in Champaign County. In contrast, Cook County is very familiar with this process, as is St. Louis County.

rsp wrote on December 16, 2012 at 12:12 am

"Redistricting causes confusion the year before it's implemented. What's very clear is redistricting is necessary. It's constitutionally required," he said, adding that for purposes of the "election cycle" the new districts are in effect now.

The more I think about this the less it makes sense. What if we were in a situation where we had to reduce the number of council members? Members in office would have overlapping districts. Which is why I think we should believe him when he said "redistricting causes confusion the year before it's implemented". In other words, it hasn't been implemented. Why would you have a policy that people live in one district for this reason but this other one for this other reason?