ELECTION 2013: Despite drop-outs, Downers Grove District 99 race not quite settled

DOWNERS GROVE —Though there are four seats on the ballot next month, the race for the District 99 school board is not completely locked up for the four candidates remaining in the race.

This month, two candidates announced they were withdrawing from the race for Downers Grove Community High School District 99, leaving the remaining four candidates without active competition.

Except the candidates — Henry Jakobsze and Martin Gorski — dropped out long after the deadline at the end of January. Their names will appear on the ballots both during early voting, which began this week, and on election day. In the eyes of the DuPage County Election Commission, they're still in the race.

It presents the possibility that if one of those candidates wins — and follows through on their withdrawal — the board would have to immediately appoint a replacement.

With six names and in an election that typically sees low turnout, there could only be a handful of votes that make the difference. In the last District 99 election, when turnout was below 15 percent, fewer than 20 votes made the difference between winning and losing.

It also has made some candidates too cautious to declare the election over. If that situation arises, there is no guarantee that the school board would have to appoint from among the remaining active candidates — Julia Beckman, Terry Pavesich, Deb Boyle and newcomer Rick Pavinato.

"I don't know what word describes it, but one never knows," Beckman said. "The board has been divided before. Maybe we would be again."

The protocol for replacing a board member is laid out in the Illinois School Code.

According to the law, when there is a vacancy the remaining members have 45 days to appoint a replacement. If they fail to do so, the regional superintendent has 30 days to do so. After that, it goes back to voters in the next regularly scheduled election.

Bill White, the board's incumbent president, withdrew from the race early on and filed the paperwork before the Jan. 31 deadline.

At this point, only a court order would remove a candidate from the ballot, said Joe Sobecki, assistant executive director of the DuPage County Election Commission.