Rauschkolb negotiates court system to secure spot on Alton mayoral ballot
After multiple rounds of objections, Alton mayoral candidate Dan Rauschkolb won a victory late last week when a Madison County Circuit Court judge ruled in his favor, allowing him to appear on April’s ballot.
Initially, he filed to run for mayor as a Democrat, but because fellow candidate Joshua Young also filed as a Democrat, a primary would have been mandatory. However, Alton City Clerk Mary Boulds faulted both men for failing to provide the correct paperwork — a statement of economic interest, according to Alton-based RiverBender.com. That meant neither could run on the ballot as a Democrat.
Rauschkolb and Young pointed a finger at Boulds, saying she failed to convey complete instructions for filing candidacy paperwork. That matter became secondary to the party affiliation issue.
Rauschkolb attempted to overcome the red tape by filing to run as an independent instead, triggering objections when candidate Young — with the help of Alton resident Pat Schwarte — found a new card to play. Schwarte, although not a candidate himself, proved instrumental in the course of events.
Citing a 2016 Lake County Appellate Court case (Rudd vs. Lake County Electoral Board, 2016 IL App (2d) 160649), he and Young reminded authorities that that case had established a precedent saying that once an individual declares their candidacy associated with a specific political party, they cannot change their declared party affiliation in the same election.
Young stuck to his guns as a Democratic candidate — while Schwarte objected to Rauschkolb’s intention to switch party affiliation from Democrat to Independent.
Hence, the three-member Alton Electoral Board decided unanimously on Jan. 26 to honor Schwarte’s objection. The panel included Aldermen Charlie Brake and Gary Fleming, and City Clerk Mary Boulds. Alton Corporate Counsel Jim Schrempf, who served as legal adviser, told RiverBender.com that the precedent for the move was "pretty straightforward," as it was based on the 2016 Lake County court case.
“It is clear that my opponents have no confidence in their ability to succeed in this election with me on the ballot, so they have gone to great lengths to deprive the citizens from seeing my name on the ballot,” Rauschkolb told RiverBender.com.
At first, Judge Clarence Harrison III, an associate judge on the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois, upheld the Alton Electoral Board’s decision to render Rauschkolb ineligible for candidacy last week.
Dissatisfied but not discouraged, Rauschkolb took his case a step further. His attorney, Shari Murphy of Wood River, filed for judicial review at the Edwardsville-based Madison County Circuit clerk’s office, according to the Alton Telegraph, where a judge turned the tables, rendering both candidates eligible to appear on the general election ballot.
Although appearing as a write-in candidate, Rauschkolb nonetheless savored the final decision after the back-and-forth as ultimately his efforts were rewarded, expressing satisfaction with the results.
“The citizens … have proven in the last election that they can think for themselves and they can ‘write in’ their choice in leadership,” Rauschkolb said.
Although Schwarte’s attorney, John Stobbs, continued to point a finger at Rauschkolb following the administrative debacle “for not filling out the paperwork properly,” according to Riverbender, he, too, told the publication that he was satisfied with the judge’s final decision.
According to RiverBender.com, Madison County has never had to hold a primary election for local office before; Madison County’s clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza reiterated that if both candidates had continued to run their campaigns as Democrats, a primary would have been mandatory.
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