The process of assessing the claims of four River Forest residents against petitions filed to force an advisory referendum on the much discussed village-township merger will begin Monday evening.
River Forest's electoral board will meet at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at village hall to begin examining the objections by Tom and Amy Dwyer, Pierangela Murphy and Patricia Marino. It well may be the first time that the board has been called to examine a petition or candidate challenge.
Discussion and deliberation will follow. Nothing substantive is likely to take place, and a continuance will probably be requested, Village Administrator Eric Palm said.
The electoral board – whose membership is mandated by state law – is composed of Village President Catherine Adduci, Trustee Susan Conti and Village Clerk Sharon Halperin. Adduci and Conti were supporters of HB 4425, which, if it had passed, would have allowed a binding referendum on the question of merger.
The three will begin examining a contention from Dwyer, a fellow village trustee, that he and his wife's signatures were forged on petition sheets. At one time, Dwyer had been in Adduci's and Conti's camp on HB4425, which Rep. Chris Welch, its chief sponsor, tabled in March. Then in April, Dwyer changed his position, saying he needed "more time to figure this all out," he said at the time. He has been a vocal opponent of a village-township merger ever since.
Murphy and Marino filed a litany of objections to the 455 signatures gathered by the referendum's backers earlier this summer and filed by them Aug. 4. The two contend there aren't enough valid signatures to place the question on the ballot because a number of the signers were not registered voters or their signatures were not genuine.
Objections filed by Murphy and Marino also contend that some nomination papers contained numerous sheets circulated by individuals whose sheets "demonstrate a pattern of fraud and disregard of the election code to such a degree that every sheet circulated by that individual is invalid."
Murphy and Marino also state that the signature sheets are not consecutively numbered and that the form of the referendum question itself is not in the proper form and is vague.
The advisory referendum – the first ever conducted in River Forest if it makes the ballot – will consider whether the township should be abolished with services merged into the village. For this action to take place, the non-binding measure must be approved by voters. Then Welch's bill – or one like it – must be put back on the table and passed by both houses of the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn. If both those steps are successful, a binding initiative would be placed before the voters in April 2015.