Challenger to Skokie mayor kicked off ballot
Updated: February 19, 2013 11:58AM
SKOKIE — Mayor George Van Dusen is set to run unopposed for a new term for mayor April 9 after his only challenger was kicked off the ballot Friday morning by the local Election Board.
Challenges made to Hilaire Fuji Shioura’s 15 pages of nominating papers, filed by Sherwin Ditlove and John W. Arden, were based on four grounds. The objectors said Shioura failed to file a statement of candidacy, an economic interest statement and a receipt for an economic interest statement.
The fourth objection was based on how Shioura’s nominating papers were fastened – by paper clip and not in a “secure manner,” the objectors maintained. The three-member board ruled in favor of the objectors on three of the four grounds, but decided that the paper clip was a sufficient fastener for the nominating papers, and their integrity was not compromised.
The local board included senior Village Trustees Randy Roberts and Don Perille and Village Clerk Marlene Williams. Under election law, Van Dusen would normally run the board, but he was excluded because the challenges were about his office.
Under the election code, any objection, once found true, was enough to invalidate Shioura’s candidacy.
“These are not technical violations either,” said lawyer Michael Dorf, who represented the objectors. Dorf said voters have the right to know about a candidate’s financial interests and whether there are financial conflicts of interest in running.
The candidate, he said, failed to obtain a statement of financial interest from the Cook County clerk and therefore did not file a receipt as well, two of the four objections. The statement of candidacy includes a sworn oath that is mandatory because it speaks to the integrity of candidates, Dorf said.
“This, again, is a mandatory requirement,” he said. “There are reasons for this. None of these requirements are unreasonable burdens. There are no excuses for this.”
Shioura, 41, an information technology administrator in the Chicago schools, was not represented by a lawyer.
He admitted to not filing the statements of candidacy and financial interest documents, but he said he took up the process all on his own and was “trying to do what’s right.” He implored the board to allow his candidacy to stand.
Shioura said the board’s decision was about nothing less than “the integrity of democracy.”
“Let people have their voice,” Shioura said. “I’m just a simple inner-city educator.”
Shioura said removing him from the ballot may be good for the Caucus Party, which holds every seat on the Village Board including the seat for mayor, but questioned whether it was “good for democracy.”
Shioura called the state election laws “overly complicated,” explaining that he was under the belief that he was required to file those papers only should he win office.
Although he repeatedly told the board that it has the right to let him remain on the ballot, that was not the message delivered Friday by a lawyer representing the election board. Should the board find that Shioura did not file statements of candidacy and financial interest, it must invalidate his candidacy under the state election code, the lawyer said.
Shioura said he ran for mayor because he has a comprehensive school safety plan he wants to implement in Skokie. He’s seen too many students lose their lives, he said. He would like to see a separate school police force headquartered in the old police station at Main Street and Laramie Avenue. He also wants a separate emergency police telephone number for school administrators and authorization for school security personnel to use stun guns.
Shioura could appeal the Election Board’s decision to the Cook County Circuit Court but he said Friday he has no plans to do so. He is still weighing whether to run for mayor in April as a write-in candidate.
This is not the first time Shioura’s candidacy papers have been challenged. He filed to run against U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9th) last year, but withdrew from the race after he was challenged.