A Cook County Circuit Court judge has ruled against a challenge to three candidates – all endorsed by the Village Manager Association (VMA) – for public office in the municipal election set for April 4.

Judge Margarita Kulys-Hoffman affirmed an earlier decision by the Oak Park Electoral Board in January that allowed the three VMA candidates – Oak Park trustee candidates Glenn Brewer and Peter Barber and village clerk candidate Lori Malinski – to remain on the ballot.

The three candidates, running as an unofficial slate, collected and submitted ballot petition signatures collectively, which challengers Kevin Peppard and Robert Milstein argued was not allowed under the Illinois election code.

The electoral board determined that while collecting signatures as a group was inappropriate, another court case heard by the Illinois Supreme Court left the decision up to the electoral board on whether the candidates should be granted access to the ballot.

Kulys-Hoffman, however, said in her decision that the 753 signatures collected by the candidates was sufficient, because the petition stated that a signature was for all three candidates.

“It is clear from this language that the voters intended that their signatures stand for each of the candidates. While putting candidates’ names on one form may be technically deficient, the 735 signatures on the petitions are signatures for each of the candidates that meet the threshold requirements,” Kulys-Hoffman wrote in the decision released on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

The VMA candidates collected 735 signatures total but needed 251 each to make it onto the ballot.

Burt Odelson, attorney for the challengers, could not immediately be reached for comment, but his office confirmed that he would be appealing the decision.

Odelson said last month that the 735 signatures still didn’t meet the signature requirement of 251 for each candidate.

“If they want to be independent, they have to file the number required by statute, and if you add up all the numbers, they are collectively short signatures,” Odelson said in January.

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