Marks tries to force county clerk into primary in Northbrook
Gene Marks speaks at the candidate forum for the Village of Northbrook in 2009.
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:39AM
NORTHBROOK — Whether Northbrook voters will have a primary election Feb. 26 or not seems to be a matter of opinion.
A spokeswoman for the Cook County Clerk’s office said there will be none, while a spokesman for Eugene Marks, a former Northbrook Village President trying to regain his seat, said there will be.
Candidates running as a slate for the village board with the backing of the Northbrook Caucus are: Village President Sandra Frum, Village Clerk Debra Ford, and Trustees Kathryn Ciesla, Todd Heller and Michael Scolaro. The slate has properly followed Cook County election procedures and will appear on the April 9 ballot.
Those trying to run against them as write-ins under the Democratic label are: Eugene Marks, Lynn Ritz, Julius Kole and Daniel P. Scott. These candidates say they are not a slate and Cook County has received no official paperwork from them that would allow them to appear on the April 9 ballot.
Technically, Sandra Frum’s slate is running uncontested.
However, Marks continues to pursue a February primary in the hopes of getting himself and the other candidates onto the April ballot.
“A write-in candidate has never triggered a primary election before. This attempt to trigger a primary election by filing as a democratic write-in candidate would not cause there to be an election when otherwise an election would not be held,” said Courtney Greve, spokeswoman for the Cook County clerk’s office.
“If we held a primary election, the ballot would be blank. There would not be a single name printed on the ballot. There would only be an empty line for a write-in’s name or several names to be written,” Greve said.
The would-be write-in candidates had the opportunity to file petitions for the primary and have their names in the ballot, but they didn’t, she added.
Greve also noted several other reasons why she believed a primary shouldn’t be held in Northbrook.
The first would be the cost – about $50,000 to $60,000 – to the taxpayers for blank ballots. The second would be that voters might not understand what to do with blank ballots, she added.
“And another reason is that this appears to be an attempt to circumvent the process that is in place whereby candidates submit petitions to have their names on the ballot,” Greve said.
“It seems that while our office is very supportive of ballot access and giving candidates opportunities to be on the ballot, there is a filing process in place that Marks attempted to circumvent,” Greve said.
However, Tom Mannix, Marks’ campaign manager, said Marks is “definitely” running as a write-in candidate in the Feb. 26 Democratic primary.
“There was a little confusion at the County Clerk’s office over this matter. I had some communication with some attorneys over there and my understanding is that everything is cleared up and everything is going on as planned,” Mannix said.
“There was a ‘mandamus action’ filed effecting about 20 candidates across Cook County about a week and a half ago. The circuit court in Cook County held that the county clerk was acting inappropriately and had no right to prevent candidates from running in the February election,” Mannix said.
A mandamus is a writ commanding an individual, government or court to perform a certain action, usually correcting a prior illegal action or a failure to act in the first place, according to the Illinois State Bar Association.
Mannix added that Cook County Clerk’s office was ordered to put all write-in candidates on the Feb. 26 primary ballot.
But Greve noted that the court ruling doesn’t apply to Marks and those who wanted to run for office in Northbrook with him.
The court’s ruling concerned similar but different cases in Dalton and Broadview. In those cases, Democrats filed nominating papers, and because they were unopposed, there was not going to be a primary, she said.
“But the court said: ‘There are Democrats already on the field and these write-in candidates are the new players trying to make the team,’” Greve said.
“So as a result, the court ruled that we needed to have a primary in those situations, because there was more than one person trying to get the party’s nomination.”
This is a highly unusual situation, she noted, but “very different” than the situation in Northbrook.