Bruni may be write-in challenger after being removed from Flossmoor ballot

David Bruni’s name will not appear on the ballot for the April 2 Flossmoor Village Board election, but he is contemplating a write-in campaign.
 
Bruni said after the Flossmoor Election Board’s decision Friday he would take several days to decide his next steps for one of the three four-year terms up for election.

"We are obviously disappointed with the electoral board's decision to not allow my name as a choice on the April 2 ballot for trustee. With that said, I respect the decision of the electoral board," Bruni said in a statement afterward.

"Candidates running uncontested or unopposed in any city, in any state is simply inane. The freedom of choice is one beautiful right we all have in this great land," he added.
 
To the consternation of the nearly three dozen people attending the Jan. 18 meeting, the Flossmoor Election Board – Mayor Paul Braun, Village Clerk Joni Bradley-Scott and Trustee Phil Minga – agreed to reconsider action on a vote it took on Jan. 2.
 
The election board reconvened that meeting on Friday and decided that Bruni failed to properly number his petitions after previously saying it was not grounds for being removed from the ballot. On the second go-round, the board found it was an important clerical error. It got Bruni thrown off the ballot.

The board, on Jan. 2, voted to uphold an objection charging that Bruni's petitions were not properly bound, and that would also be grounds for removing him from the ballot.  

Election board members still need to take final action on removing Bruni from the ballot. That is expected to take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the village hall, 2800 Flossmoor Road. The board will approve the written report on why it removed Bruni from the ballot. Bruni can use that document should he wish to appeal the board’s decision in court. 
 
Bruni’s attorney, Patrick Keating, Friday accused the board of making a “raw political decision.” Several residents addressed the election board saying it was denying the will of the people, but Braun pointed out that on reviewing previous cases the circuit and Illinois appellate courts have overturned election boards that ruled on behalf of candidates on that very question.
 
Braun said he is sorry for how this decision is dividing the community. He called it the hardest decision he’s made in his nine years as mayor.
 
“I wish we could do everything by the will of the people, but we can’t. We follow the rule of law,” he told the audience.
 
The rules set out by the Illinois Board of Elections “are mandatory provisions,” Braun said. The state also mandates who sits on a local election board, and Braun acknowledged that it’s “not the best procedure. It should be an independent board, but we don’t have that choice.”
 
Braun called Bruni a “fine, upstanding gentleman” whom he had encouraged to run for office. He said he understands Bruni’s frustration because 35 years ago a technicality got Braun thrown off the ballot for a seat on the Homewood-Flossmoor High School board.
 
Since the Jan. 2 meeting, the election board received a petition from residents on Bruni’s behalf, and 39 emails in which residents argued the rules were not reasonable, the actions of the board are petty, the technicalities are minor and anyone should have the right to have their name appear on the ballot. 
 
Braun said he wanted those residents to know the election board reviewed their comments. He emphasized that he decided the question “on the rule of law,” but resident Carrie Anderson told him, “The law is not black and white. It’s gray. The spirit is what’s important here.”
 
Bruni faced five challenges to his petitions from incumbent trustees Perry Hoag and Jim Mitros who are seeking re-election. Hoag and Mitros agreed Jan. 2 the most critical question was that Bruni may have fewer than the 131 signatures needed to get on the ballot. 
 
Bruni had the Cook County Board of Elections review challenged signatures and presented the Flossmoor Election Board with paperwork saying the final tally was 133 approved signatures.
 
At the Jan. 2 session, the election board also looked at four other challenges to Bruni’s petitions, including:
  • The signature pages were not numbered correctly.
  • The pages were not bound correctly.
  • Bruni said he was filing as a candidate in a general election but the April 2 race is a consolidated election.
  • He failed to correctly list his address in a specific box.
Of the five, the board only upheld the binding objection on Jan. 2. The board said it needed more information on the legitimacy of 11 signatures and threw out the other three objections, including the page numbering question. 
 
At Friday’s meeting, Bruni’s attorney, Patrick Keating, called these “ticky-tacky objections” but Hoag argued that the election laws set out by the Illinois Board of Elections says a candidate “must” file petitions in a particular manner. He said the village provided all candidates with an information packet, including a nominating petition that he said Bruni apparently copied incorrectly because the space at the bottom for the page number was only partially on the forms Bruni circulated. 

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