This has certainly been one of the more interesting elections in recent memory with petition challenges, a trustee resignation and a flood of new candidates interested in serving the public.

Since Trustee Adam Salzman announced his resignation last month, there has been discussion of how the remaining two years of his term will be filled. There are two methods to fill such a vacancy, depending on when it occurs.  

If it occurs more than 28 months before the “midterm” election for the position and within the first 20 months of a term, an additional two-year vacancy can be added to the ballot and included with the regular four-year vacancies for that cycle. This is what happened when Trustee John Hedges ran and was elected to a two year term to fill a vacancy on the board about 10 years ago. He went on to run for election to the board. If the current vacancy had occurred last fall during the petition circulation period, this two-year position could have been included in the election process for April 2017.

However, if a vacancy occurs less than 28 months before the end of a term, it is too late to add the name to the election process. State law provides for appointment by the village president in such cases. In 2008, a vacancy occurred late in a term and Trustee Colette Lueck was named by David Pope as an appointed trustee for the one year remaining in this term, and she went on to run for re-election after that. And when Trustee Ray Johnson resigned from the board to move out of state in 2014, President Anan Abu-Taleb appointed Trustee Andrea Ott to serve the remainder of his term. She also chose to run for re-election at the end of this term.

The timing of this particular vacancy is unusual because it falls in the middle of election season. Knowing this, many people assumed the position could be filled through the election process along with the three 4-year positions on the board. The effective date of Trustee Salzman’s resignation was Feb. 22, long after the deadline to include the position on the ballot. At that point the only alternative was for the village president to name a trustee, subject to board approval. It did not have to be a current candidate, and he could have named this appointee anytime during the subsequent 60-day period.

In this case, James Taglia was nominated and agreed to forgo the possibility of election to serve a four-year term in order to be considered for the remaining two-year term of Trustee Salzman. He withdrew his name from candidacy by filing with the Cook County Board of Elections and his name will not appear on the printed ballot (although it does appear on the sample ballot due to the lateness of the filing).

Voters still have the opportunity to elect three trustees from the remaining five candidates to serve four-year terms as they did before Trustee Salzman announced that he was leaving office. The two-year appointment does not alter the races on the ballot.

Teresa Powell is the Oak Park village clerk.

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