Judge removes DuPage forest candidate from ballot over hyphen

Updated 1/13/2020 6:10 PM

A candidate who was removed from the March primary ballot because of the hyphen in her name says she will take the case to the appellate court.

DuPage Judge Paul Fullerton on Monday refused to overturn the county electoral board's decision to remove the forest preserve commissioner candidate Natalie Rose Shannon-DiCianni from the March 17 ballot. The Elmhurst Democrat says she will appeal.


"With this ruling being the first court ruling to deny ballot access for the use of a hyphen and while we have the utmost respect for Judge Fullerton, we will be appealing this historic ruling to the Appellate Court," DiCianni said in a written statement.

DiCianni last month entered the race to seek the Democratic nomination for the District 2 seat on the forest preserve commission. But her nominating petitions were challenged by Jacalynn West of Lisle.

After reviewing the objection, the electoral board voted Dec. 23 to remove DiCianni from the ballot because of the hyphen she used in her name in her nominating papers.

"Shannon" is DiCianni's nickname, and the three-person electoral board ruled that candidates can't use hyphens to connect their nicknames and last names.

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On Monday, Fullerton said he agreed with the electoral board's view that "Shannon-DiCianni" isn't the candidate's surname.

"I think the use of the hyphen created an improper surname," Fullerton said. "I can't ignore it."

DiCianni's attorneys have argued that a false name wasn't created when DiCianni used a hyphen to separate her nickname from her surname. They said there's no authority in the state that justifies her removal from the ballot.

"The objector's claim that the candidate improperly used a 'false' name is strictly manufactured, has no basis in the law, and is contrary to all of the sworn evidence in the record," the attorneys wrote in a filing.

If the decision to keep DiCianni off the ballot stands, Tina Tyson-Dunne of Lombard will run unopposed in the Democratic primary and face Karen Kelly, a Republican from Downers Grove. The District 2 seat currently is held by Republican Jeff Redick, who isn't running.


District 2 includes all or portions of Addison, Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Lisle, Lombard, Naperville, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont and Woodridge.

On Monday, DiCianni said in her statement that the objections to her nominating papers "were obviously filed in a shotgun approach to keep me off the ballot so my opponent would have an uncontested election."

"Ballot access and the right to vote for the candidate of your choice is our most precious freedom," she said.

Pat Bond, the attorney who represents the electoral board, said he wasn't surprised to hear about DiCianni's plan to appeal because of the unique way the hyphen was used.

"The fact that there is no appellate court case specific to that leaves the door open for a different interpretation," he said.

DiCianni is the daughter of county board member Pete DiCianni, an Elmhurst Republican.

Also on Monday, Judge Fullerton upheld the electoral board's decision to keep a Republican candidate for county recorder on the March 17 primary ballot.

The election board ruled last month that Babette Holder Youngberg did nothing wrong when she used both her maiden name and her marital name on nominating petitions. Fullerton agreed with that decision.

Holder Youngberg has blamed her Republican primary opponent -- Ron Almiron of Wheaton -- for attempting to get her removed from the ballot. Almiron, who is an attorney, is representing the resident who challenged Holder Youngberg's paperwork.

Almiron said after Monday's hearing that he and his client "disagree with the court's decision" but haven't decided whether to appeal.

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