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.