In front of a packed audience at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, several college trustee hopefuls whose candidacies are being challenged pledged to fight back.
The six candidates, along with incumbent Mark Nowak, whose re-election paperwork also is in debate, came with gloves off Tuesday for an electoral board meeting regarding the objections.
No decisions were made, but tempers flared as the candidates charged the real motivation behind the challenge to their campaigns is an effort by the college board's leadership to keep opposing voices out of office.
"It really is a sad day when private citizens who want to do the right thing and volunteer for their community have to hire a private attorney just to get on the ballot," said candidate Kim Savage, who is seeking a 6-year trustee seat.
Four seats are up for election in the April 7 election. Three are 6-year terms, while the fourth is for two years.
Outgoing Trustee Kory Atkinson, a lawyer who is not seeking re-election to instead run for the Roselle village board, filed the objections Feb. 2 against six hopefuls. His objections relate to signatures on petitions and alleged legal technicalities such as residency and identifying the term of office.
Lombard resident Dan Chambers questioned Nowak's paperwork separately.
Though the candidates called Atkinson's objections "frivolous" and rooted in politics, he said they shouldn't be allowed to serve on a board that oversees a $146 million budget if they can't properly follow election law.
An estimated crowd reaching 100 turned out for the heated meeting. The majority supported the candidates and were critical of the two electoral boards' rules and procedures, which barred public comment.
In response, at one point, Atkinson called for order: "If this were a courtroom, everyone of you would be escorted from this room by a sheriff deputy."
Besides Nowak and Savage, others facing challenges to their nominating petitions are: Terrell Barnes, Jeffrey Handel, Sandy Kim, Gino Impellizzeri and Tom Wendorf.
The two electoral boards overseeing the process will meet again Tuesday, Feb. 17. A final decision is expected Tuesday, Feb. 24.