CHAMPAIGN — A decision could come as soon as Friday on whether incumbent city council member Will Kyles will get his name printed on ballots in the spring election, after a former Champaign mayor protested his candidacy.
The deadline for filing the petitions Kyles needs to run for re-election passed in November, when he handed over 134 signatures of District 1 residents who wanted to see him on the ballot. Kyles needed a minimum 84 signatures.
The District 1 seat is the only contested race in this spring's city council elections, and last week, former Champaign Mayor Dan McCollum filed an objection to Kyles' petitions.
McCollum claims 81 of the signatures are either not registered voters, they are not registered at the addresses listed on the petition, or the person named on the petition was not actually the one who signed the name.
If McCollum can prove that at least 51 of those signatures were invalid, Kyles could be kicked off the ballot. He would still have the option to run as a write-in candidate.
Former city council member Gina Jackson is also running for the District 1 seat and would be unchallenged on the ballot if Kyles were kicked off. A third candidate for the seat, Dwayne Hubbard, withdrew last week.
Kyles on Tuesday appeared with his attorney, Robert Auler, at an initial meeting of the city's electoral board. The board will hear arguments from both Kyles and McCollum, examine the signatures in Kyles' petitions and ultimately determine whether Kyles' petitions were valid.
The electoral board comprises Mayor Don Gerard, city council member Michael La Due and City Clerk Marilyn Banks. It will next meet at 9 a.m. Friday in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.
"It's part of the process," Kyles said. "It's something that a lot of elected officials go through."
Petition challenges are not uncommon. In 2007, 13 objections against nine Champaign City Council candidates and two mayoral candidates got two people kicked off the ballot.
McCollum himself had to go through the petition process seven times as he campaigned for city council and mayor in the 1980s and 1990s. Some of those petitions were protested, but the objections never got him kicked off the ballot.
Kyles said he made sure his petitions were valid before he filed.
"I had my petitions checked over," Kyles said.
McCollum lives just inside District 1 and will become a District 4 resident when new boundaries take effect following the April election. But he said he would have challenged anyone's petitions if he thought they were invalid.
"Running for election is serious business," McCollum said. "And there are definite rules on how to run for election."
This is the first time McCollum has filed an objection against anyone else. He said he has talked to Kyles' opponent, Jackson, about the protest, but it was solely his decision to move forward with the action.