It might be the shortest candidacy in Oak Park history, but a park district employee has announced her plan to run as a write-in candidate for village president against the uncontested incumbent Anan Abu-Taleb.
Cate Readling, a sponsorship coordinator for the Park District of Oak Park, announced on Facebook on March 16 that she was running for the village president's seat in the April 4 municipal election.
But Cook County Clerk David Orr's Office states on its website that Feb. 2 was the deadline to file to run as a write-in candidate and that "only votes for eligible write-in candidates are counted."
Clerk's office spokesman James Scalzitti confirmed in an email that "voters can write in whatever they want, but we only count the write-in votes cast for officially declared write-in candidates."
Readling said in an interview that she believes state statute will allow her votes to be counted based on language that says "whenever an objection to a candidate's nominating papers or petitions for any office is sustained after the 61st day before the election, the candidate may file a notarized declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for that office with the proper election authority or authorities no later than 7 days prior to the election."
That means that a candidate who has been blocked from the ballot because of problems with a nominating petition – if they did not gather enough signatures, for example – then they have the right to file as a write-in no later than seven days prior to the election.
Readling announced on her personal Facebook page, which is open to the public, that she's running to provide a voice to constituents "who do not feel heard, for those looking for the transparency and understanding of both the process and the outcome of our local government."
"I will run for village president because I see that position as a catalyst and a facilitator for the incredible people and resources of Oak Park and our neighbors," she wrote on March 16.
Roughly 10 hours later, she learned of the deadline for filing as a write-in candidate and said she would investigate. She then posted, "Ok then, the flood of messages, texts and emails tells me we are Doing this! A true groundswell of support will make Real Change!"
Readling said in an interview with Wednesday Journal that she considered running for village president last year and interviewed with the Oak Park Village Manager Association, a group that vets and slates candidates for public office in Oak Park, but she ultimately decided not to seek public office because of other personal commitments.
She said she changed her mind earlier this week after attending an open house forum held at Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., held by Abu-Taleb with 29th Ward Chicago Ald. Chris Taliaferro.