Now Come the Objectors to Park Forest Mayoral Candidates

Village Hall, Park Forest, New Years Eve, mayoral candidates
Village Hall after the New Years Eve 2018 rains fell. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- eNews Park Forest has procured and reviewed the specific objections filed against three of the Park Forest mayoral candidates. The objectors, Jonathan H. Newman, and Christine Dupee, have filed objections to the nomination papers of Emma J. Cox, Sean P. Hightower, and Renee Hawthorne. The cases will be heard by the Village of Park Forest Municipal Officers Electoral Board [PFMOEB] on Wednesday, January 2, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. in Park Forest Village Hall.

The members of the Electoral Board are Mayor John A. Ostenburg, Chairman; Village Clerk Sheila McGann; and Second Senior Trustee Robert McCray. Senior Trustee Mae Brandon is running for office in the April 2, 2019 Consolidate Election and so will not serve on the Electoral Board.

There are currently six mayoral candidates who filed to run.

Specifically, the cases are:

  • Jonathan H. Newman vs. Emma  Cox (CASE NO. 2019-PFMOEB-01)
  • Jonathan H. Newman vs. Sean P. Hightower
    (CASE NO. 2019-PFMOEB-02)
  • Jonathan H. Newman vs. Renee Hawthorne
    (CASE NO. 2019-PFMOEB-03)
  • Christina Dupee vs. Sean P. Hightower
    (CASE NO. 2019-PFMOEB-04)
  • Christina Dupee vs. Renee Hawthorne
    (CASE NO. 2019-PFMOEB-05)

According to the objection packets, Mr. Newman resides in the 200 block of Lee Street in Park Forest. Ms. Dupee resides in the 200 block of Rich Road in Park Forest.

In the case of Jonathan Newman vs. Emma Cox, Mr. Newman alleges that Ms. Cox did not file a Statement of Economic Interest with the Cook County Clerk. This appears to be the case, as eNews Park Forest previously noted. While Ms. Cox did include her Statement of Economic Interest with her nomination papers, the statement lacks a stamp from the Cook County Clerk’s office indicating that Ms. Cox never filed the statement with the clerk.

The Statement of Economic Interest from Ms. Cox, lacking the required seal from the Office of the Cook County Clerk indicating that the document was properly filed:

In the case of Mr. Newman vs. Sean Hightower, Mr. Newman notes that all of Mr. Hightower’s petition sheets lack a complete address. In his objection, Mr. Newman alleges, “The candidate’s petition sheets contain the heading on each and every sheet that indicates NAME ‘Sean P. Hightower’, the OFFICE ‘Mayor’, and, within the box within the heading marked ADDRESS-ZIP CODE he merely places the following five digits: 60466. The Candidate has insufficiently informed voters of his address.”

Sean Hightower, petition, election, mayor
The top of one petition page from Mr. Sean Hightower’s election packet which lacks Mr. Hightower’s address in the box at the right. Only “60466” shows in the box. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

In the case of Mr. Newman vs. Renee Hawthorne, Mr. Newman alleges that on several of her petition sheets, Ms. Hawthorn failed “to indicate a house number for her place of residence. The Candidate has insufficiently informed the voters of his [sic] address.”

Mr. Newman further alleges that Ms. Hawthorne “lists her name, her address, the office sought (Mayor 4 year Term) and the City, Village or Special District as ‘Park Forest 80th District’. There is no office of ‘Mayor’ on the ballot for ‘Park Forest 80th District’ for the April 2, 2019 Election.”

Finally, Mr. Newman alleges that Ms. Hawthorne’s “Nomination Papers contain the names of persons who are not registered voters at the address shown, and said signatures are not genuine and are forgeries.” Mr. Newman alleges that Ms. Hawthorne’s nomination papers fall short of the “83 validly collected signatures of qualified and duly registered legal voters of the village.” Mr. Newman then includes several pages challenging specific signatures in Ms. Hawthorne’s petitions.

Candidates’ petitions were required to have 83 signatures of registered Park Forest voters. The number is based on those who voted in the last municipal election in Park Forest.

In the case of Christina Dupee vs. Sean Hightower, Ms. Dupee objects that Mr. Hightower’s nomination papers include a “CERTIFICATE OF OFFICERS AUTHORIZED TO FILL VACANCIES IN NOMINATION FOR A NEW POLITICAL PARTY.” Specifically, the nomination papers contain “a statement of Candidacy Form SBE P-1D New Political Party,” and, given that elections in Park Forest are nonpartisan, Ms. Dupee alleges the petition papers are “invalid and should be invalidated in order to protect the integrity of the electoral process.”

It’s unclear why Mr. Hightower included the form “FOR A NEW POLITICAL PARTY” in his nomination packet. He marked all lines “N/A.”

Mr. Hightower also included with his nomination papers the information sheet the Village of Park Forest places at the top of the nomination petition packets for candidates.

Ms. Dupee also alleges that Mr. Hightower’s “Nomination Petition Sheets circulated by the Candidate do not contain the street address of the Candidate in the heading. Only the zip code 60466 is provided. The zip code 60466 is not unique to Park Forest as portions of the Village of University Park possess the same zip code of 60466.”

In Ms. Dupee’s objection to the nomination papers of Renee Hawthorne, Ms. Dupee alleges that Ms. Hawthorne used the wrong petition sheets.

Renee Hawthorne, consolidated primary petition, election, Park Forest
Sheet No. 14 of Renee Hawthorne’s petitions shows she is running in the “CONSOLIDATED PRIMARY”, an election that is not held in Park Forest. The petition also shows that Ms. Hawthorne lives in the “County of COOK/WILL.” All of her petitions have the same header. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

“The Nomination Petition Sheets circulated by the Candidate are form SBE P-5 which are intended for the Consolidated Primary Election on February 26, 2019, which is not applicable to the Village of Park Forest,” Ms. Dupee alleges. In short, Ms. Dupee alleges that Ms. Hawthorne asked voters to sign petition sheets for an election that does not exist in Park Forest.

Ms. Dupee further alleges that Ms. Hawthorne’s petition sheets indicate that Ms. Hawthorne lives in two separate counties: “All of the Candidate’s Nomination petition sheets circulated lists Cook/Will as the county in which the Candidate resides.”

Ms. Hawthorne lives in Will County.

The Electoral Board convenes at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.