Medinah resident challenges fire district referendum results

 
 
Published4/24/2009 12:01 AM

A Medinah man is challenging the results of one of the few property tax increases voters approved on April 7.

James Cadell sent a letter to the DuPage County Election Commission on Thursday claiming several voters in the Roselle Fire Protection District who had voted on the tax hike in the past were not given ballots with the question on it this time.

 

Voters in both DuPage and Cook counties cast ballots on the measure. Cadell is challenging only the DuPage results.

While almost twice as many DuPage voters rejected the proposal as supported it, Cook voters overwhelmingly approved it and the tax increase passed by just 19 votes.

But Cadell believes the measure would have failed if not for a mistake by the election commission that left the question off some voters' ballots. Election judge Paul Fava told Cadell at least 25 voters on Election Day asked him why their ballots didn't contain the fire protection district tax question this time. Fava said he gave the voters a phone number to the election commission to lodge their complaints.

Election commission attorney Pat Bond said Thursday was the first time they heard any complaints about those ballots.

"We didn't receive a single inquiry, zero, on Election Day," he said.

The election commission is set to certify the ballots at Tuesday's board meeting. Cadell is asking them to not certify the results from that vote. Bond said they can't just single out one race not to certify and currently there's no evidence to suggest the commission needs to do that.

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Cadell said he doesn't want to get lawyers involved, but most election law experts believe Cadell needs to file a lawsuit to stop the certification process.

"I would suspect he's going to have to a lawsuit to get the remedy he desires," said Terry Pastika, executive director of the government watchdog group Citizen Advocacy Center in Elmhurst.

Illinois Board of Elections attorney Steve Sandvoss also suggested Cadell take the issue through legal channels.

"There's nothing in the state election code that covers this kind of problem outside of legal means," he said.

This tax hike had been rejected three times in the past. This was the first time voters were seeing the issue since 2006 when it failed in both counties. Voters in both Cook and DuPage had rejected the initiative in 2005 and 2004 as well.

The measure more than doubles homeowners' property tax burden to the district during the next four years. The fire district - which owns no firefighting equipment and employs no firefighters - sought the tax hike to meet its financial obligation to the Roselle Fire Department, which provides fire protection for unincorporated residents. The district's Cook County residents pay much less than their counterparts in DuPage.

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