Kirkland Removed from Ballot; Four Candidates in April Trustee Race

The Will County Circuit Court on Wednesday ruled that Joliet Junior College Board of Trustees candidate Thelma Kirkland be removed from the election ballot, reversing the decision by the JJC electoral panel to keep Kirkland in the April 5 consolidated trustee election.

The JJC panel, comprised of current board members Robert Wunderlich, Dan O’Connell and Andy Mihelich, voted to keep Kirkland on the ballot at a Jan. 11 public hearing, held when another trustee candidate, Jeffrey Vickery, filed an objection stating inaccuracies in Kirkland’s filing.

When the JJC panel overruled Vickery’s objection in January, he filed an appeal with the circuit court. The circuit court’s decision is final, leaving four candidates in the JJC trustee race. They are: Jeff May, Minooka; Jeffrey Vickery, Joliet; Mike O’Connell, Elwood; and Brad M. Baber, Joliet. Candidates are listed here based on how their names will appear on the ballot.

Vickery had originally filed two objections Jan. 5 against Kirkland and Kathryn M. Freeman of New Lenox, stating inaccuracies in both of their filings. Freeman withdrew her petition Jan. 7.

Specifically, Vickery contended that Kirkland, of Joliet, should be removed from the ballot because she did not file a statement of economic interest along with her petition papers during the required filing period between Dec. 13 and Dec. 20. State law requires candidates to file a statement of candidacy, nominating petition sheets totaling 50 or more signatures that must be notarized, and a receipt for filing a statement of economic interest with the Will County Clerk’s Office, specifically for the office of JJC trustee.

Kirkland ultimately did file the statement of economic interest, which was postmarked Dec. 21, a day after the filing period ended. According to Harvey, the economic interest statement is required to ensure that candidates do not have conflicts of interest with the public office they are seeking.
Vickery’s attorney said that because the statement was late, she should be removed from the ballot.

Two terms are up for election, that of current trustees Jeff May and Mike O’Connell. O’Connell was appointed to fill the vacancy when former Trustee Dick Dystrup passed away in August 2009.

JJC is directly governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees, all of whom are elected from within the district for six-year terms. A student representative, elected annually by the student body, is a non-voting member of the board.

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