Alton boots Rauschkolb from mayoral ballot
Would-be Alton mayoral candidate Dan Rauschkolb tried to switch parties in midstream but now finds himself a fish out of water.
The Alton Electoral Board recently voted unanimously to keep Rauschkolb off of the April 4 ballot. 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 the Alton-based RiverBender.com that the precedent for the move was "pretty straightforward," as it was based on a 2016 Lake County court case.
Rauschkolb, an Alton police officer, filed for the race as a Democrat, intending to oppose Joshua Young in the February primary. But both would-be candidates omitted their statements of economic interest in their applications, so became ineligible to run as Democrats.
Both Rauschkolb and Young pointed a finger at Boulds, saying she failed to convey complete instructions for filing candidacy paperwork, but that issue became secondary to the party affiliation issue. Rauschkolb attempted to work around the setback by filing to run as an independent, triggering objections and ultimately getting kicked out of the race.
Alton resident Patrick Schwarte entered an objection to Rauschkolb’s candidacy by filing a document with the city clerk in December. The second objection, filed by mayoral candidate Young, was not formally accepted, but only because he made an administrative error, failing to list his address on the document.
Nevertheless, both complainants based their arguments on a Lake County ruling that stated that anyone campaigning during a primary on a specific party ticket is not permitted to switch to “independent” status in the correlated general election.
Rauschkolb’s attorney, Shari Murphy, said that Schwarte failed to state the nature of his objection or what his interest was. The board dismissed Murphy’s argument on the grounds that Schwarte was not legally required to state his interest. Additionally, Schwarte did frame his intent in the objection clearly enough for the board, writing: "The intent of this letter is to register my protest regarding the inclusion of Dan Rauschkolb on the April 2017 ballot for Mayor of Alton, Illinois based on precedence set in the case of Rudd v Lake County Electoral Board, 2016 IL App (2d) 160649."
Alton’s election board issued a statement upholding Schwarte’s objection and declaring that Rauschkolb was off the ballot.
“The Clerk shall not certify the name of Danny Rauschkolb as a candidate for the Office of Mayor of the City of Alton at the election of April 4, 2017,” the statement read in part.
According to RiverBender, Rauschkolb and his attorney said “their fight is far from over,” announcing plans to challenge the decision through the Madison County Clerk’s office ,claiming possible partisanship among election panel members. Rauschkolb expressed misgivings about Mayor Brant Walker, who is running for re-election.
"I'm concerned with [Schrempf’s] campaign contributions to … Walker," Rauschkolb told RiverBender. "He has a lot of influence with the board and met with each of them individually. I'm concerned they met privately and not in an open meeting setting. Something this important to the people should not be decided in private."
Schrempf donated $500 to Walker’s campaign in October, but information from the Illinois Board of Elections revealed that no election board members have made any contributions to current mayoral candidates.
Schwarte, whose objection ultimately became the only official impetus for the ruling, expressed satisfaction with the decision.
"I entered the process with a bit of [naiveté]," Schwarte said, according to RiverBender. "I feel it is the right decision. I would not have entered into this challenge if I did not feel strongly about justice being done."
Even erstwhile candidate Young also acknowledged the fairness of the ruling, concurring with Schwarte that he felt the decision was right.
"I think justice was done," he told RiverBender.
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