First posted 3/9/2009 5:33 p.m.
On Monday, a judge upheld an Oak Park decision about a homeless man’s candidacy for village trustee.
Cook County Judge Patrick McGann ruled Monday morning that Daniel Fore’s name can be barred from the April 7 ballot – the same decision that the village’s electoral board took more than three hours to reach in a meeting last month.
“The issue was the rule of law,” Village Clerk Sandra Sokol told the Journal Monday afternoon. “It’s nothing to do with Dan the person. We were applying the law correctly. The state legislature should change this,” Sokol said, referring to the Illinois law that a person must live in a community for at least a year in order to run for office.
Sokol and Village Trustee Ray Johnson had cast the deciding votes in a three-person electoral board vote on Feb. 12 to take Fore’s name off the ballot. Village President David Pope had voted to keep Fore’s name on the ballot, based on what he called the murkiness of state election laws.
Fore, 47, is a frequent observer of and commentator at village board meetings. He filed candidacy forms for village trustee by giving a post office box as his address and listing his residence as “homeless.”
McGann said that in not citing a specific place of residence, Fore’s filing did not meet the state election code.
“Use of the term ‘Homeless’ with a post office box mailing address … fails to establish that Mr. Fore is qualified to be placed on the ballot because it is nothing more than a conclusion,” McGann said in the ruling.
The judge suggested that Fore could have listed a shelter as his residence.
“In such an instance, voters could be certain that he has a stake in the community and an understanding of the issues confronting the village,” McGann wrote.
Two village residents had filed objections to Fore’s candidacy, questioning him listing a P.O. box as his address.
“How is physical presence defined?” Pope said Monday night on his way to the village board meeting. “There’s a set of factors to consider. The legislature ought to weigh in.”
After their 2-1 vote Feb. 12, Sokol, Johnson and Pope did agree that lawmakers in Springfield must tailor election laws to specifically allow homeless people to run for office.
“Clearly, we’re in support of guidance with and modification to the state statute,” Johnson echoed by phone Monday afternoon.
Fore plans to appeal the judge’s decision, according to Patricia Nix-Hodes, an Oak Park resident and attorney with Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, who is representing him. Fore could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.
“We’re disappointed in the decision,” Nix-Hodes said. “We feel that the state law, as written, permits a candidate in Dan Fore’s situation to be on the ballot. We disagree with the judge’s reasoning, and we plan to appeal.”
Managing editor Helen Karakoudas contributed to this report.