Former Park District of Oak Park president David Kindler has dropped his challenge to the election petitions of three park board hopefuls.
Kindler announced Monday morning that he no longer wanted to challenge the candidacies of Diane Dunn, Thomas Finch and Julie Grossman MacCarthy in the April election. They are three of six Oak Parkers who are competing for three soon-to-be open spots on the park board.
Last month, Kindler filed an objection to their candidacies — claiming that a large portion of the signatures they submitted to the county were invalid, and that they were running together as a slate, which is against Illinois election law.
But after comparing the signatures obtained from registered voters to the actual updated list, Kindler found that more were valid than he initially thought. That, coupled with a desire to see a contested election in April, led Kindler to drop his objection via e-mail Monday morning.
Nonetheless, Kindler — who circulated petitions for incumbent Jessica Bullock — still expressed concern that the petitions of all three candidates were circulated by the same people (which violates election rules). One of those circulators was Les Golden, a vocal and longtime critic of the park district.
"We're hoping for a civil dialogue, based on an understanding of what's going on in the park district and the facts," Kindler said. "We're hoping it's free of sideshow antics, and the voters end up getting a really good idea of what folks stand for."
Also competing for spots on the park board are Bullock, along with newbies Vic Guarino and Paul Aeschleman. Kindler said he also objected to the three candidates' petitions because of a conversation he had with Guarino last month, in which Guarino said he was called by Golden. In the phone call, Golden allegedly told Guarino "that this was his slate of candidates and that he would do anything to get the current park district executive director fired," Kindler said.
Reached Monday, Guarino confirmed that he had such a conversation with Golden.
Meanwhile, Golden denied that the phone call took place, and said he has never met Guarino before. "It's apparent that Vic Guarino is trying to get some votes here," he said. Golden also denied ever calling the three candidates "his slate," saying that he was simply one of several people who were circulating petitions for Dunn, Finch and MacCarthy.
"There's s a lot of unhappiness from many quarters about what's going on with the park district," he said. Golden was taken to court by the park district for allegedly trespassing at Field Park in 2007. A judge later sentenced him to a year of court supervision and 40 hours of community service.
Dunn and Finch could not be reached for comment by late Monday afternoon. A phone number for Grossman MacCarthy is not publicly available.
The Cook County electoral board was scheduled to hear Kindler's objection on Monday morning. But without Kindler in attendance, the board can dismiss the objection, according to the county clerk's website. County clerk spokeswoman Courtney Greve confirmed Monday that the case had been closed, and that the three candidates will remain on the April election ballot.