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Local News

Challenge filed to petition to redraw Joliet council districts

JOLIET – A Joliet woman is objecting to the petition sheets for the Joliet For Eight Districts referendum.

Sarah M. Andreano, of 1215 Glenwood Ave., filed papers with Joliet City Clerk Christa Desiderio on Aug. 11, alleging many of the signatures were invalid.

Andreano’s objections maintain that the petition papers contain forged signatures, illegible or incomplete signatures and incomplete or missing addresses, as well as petitioners who are not registered voters or Joliet residents.

“The number of valid signatures contained in the Petition Sheets is less than the minimum number of valid signatures required by law to place the aforementioned proposal on the official ballot and ... (the) proposal should be found invalid,” Andreano’s papers state.

The 14-page objection filing lists specific objections by sheet and line regarding the first 135 sheets of the referendum petition, plus about 25 other full sheets that Andreano maintains were improperly notarized.

“There exists throughout the first 135 Petition Sheets over 300 invalid signatures,” Andreano’s objection maintains.

Nearly all of the individual objections involve signers not being registered to shown addresses. Other objections cite residency issues, lack of signature, legibility and incomplete addresses.

About 2,440 signatures were attached to the 305-page petition, according to Rich Rodriguez of Concerned Citizens of Joliet, the group pushing for the referendum.

The referendum petition requires 1,500 signatures in order to be placed on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Aug. 11 was the last day objections could be filed over the petition.

Desiderio said the city’s electoral board must now rule on the objections.

“The matter is pending before the city’s electoral board,” Desiderio said. The board consists of Desiderio, Mayor Tom Giarrante and Councilman Mike Turk.

The last time the electoral board convened was in 2011, over the residency of Alicia Morales, a candidate in the Fourth District. The board ruled in favor of Morales’ candidacy.

Rodriguez said he was not surprised by the objection.

“This is a prime example of concentrated political power not wanting to give in to change,” Rodriguez said.

Andreano is listed as chairman of the Friends of Judge Dinah Lennon Archambeault on the Illinois State Board of Elections website.

Concerned Citizens of Joliet wants to change the current City Council structure from five district seats and three at-large seats – a format that has been in place since the 1950s – to eight district seats.

The group maintains that mixed district and at-large representation does not accurately or fairly reflect the city’s geography and population because too many council members reside in the same part of town.

Those opposed to the idea have cited several reasons for not changing, including that, as of right now, residents can vote for five of the nine people on the council. The new proposal would drop that to two people.

In its current form, the referendum question will be: “Shall The City of Joliet be divided into Eight Districts with one Council Person to be elected from each District, but with the Mayor to be elected from the City At Large?”

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