Evanston city clerk falls ill during electoral board meeting about candidate challenges


Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

City Clerk Rodney Greene attends a council meeting. Greene fell ill at an electoral board meeting on Friday, resulting in the postponement of a decision on multiple candidate challenges.

Julia Jacobs, Editor in Chief

Evanston City Clerk Rodney Greene was taken to the hospital after falling ill Friday during an electoral board meeting regarding challenges to multiple candidacies for mayor.

The meeting was cut short as Greene displayed signs of illness and was postponed until next week. During Friday’s meeting, the board was considering challenges to three mayoral candidates based on claims that their nominating papers did not have the proper election date.

Evanston resident William Arndt originally filed objections to the candidacies of Ald. Mark Tendam (6th), businessman Steve Hagerty and former Evanston Township supervisor Gary Gaspard because their nominating papers were filed for a mayoral election in April rather than a primary at the end of February. Arndt’s lawyers withdrew the objection to Tendam’s candidacy at Friday’s meeting.

A memo from Arndt referenced a 1992 referendum, for which Evanston voters decided a mayoral primary should be held in February if more than two candidates file for an election. At Friday’s meeting, Ald. Ann Rainey (8th), a member of the electoral board, questioned Arndt’s lawyers as to the relevance of that referendum.

“How many primaries have been held since that date?” Rainey asked.

The electoral board decided not to consider evidence related to the 1992 referendum partly because the documents had not been submitted in a timely manner. Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl is chair of the board and Greene is a member.

Tendam told The Daily on Friday that the objections are “disruptive” and detract from discussion about issues more relevant to the mayoral election.

“It was truly just an error which cost me time and money with legal representation and taking away from my schedule trying to be out there campaigning,” said Tendam, who was represented by a lawyer at Friday’s meeting.

A brief from Hagerty arguing against Arndt’s objection said Illinois election code only requires candidates in a nonpartisan election to specify the office for which they are running, their place of residence and any new political party under which they are running. The document also said Greene, as city clerk, provided “good faith” information on the city’s website that the election would be held on April 4, 2017.

Gaspard, who represented himself at the meeting, said fulfilling Arndt’s objection to his candidacy for mayor “creates voter suppression.”

“The intention of the petition is not political but to create chaos,” Gaspard said.

Gaspard, a former Evanston Township supervisor, resigned from the post after less than five months on the job, citing an unanticipated time commitment.

The electoral board is also considering an objection to Devon Reid’s candidacy for city clerk. At its meeting on Monday, the board dismissed an objection by Evanston resident Joan Hickman, who said Reid “lacks the knowledge” of a city clerk’s responsibilities. The board dismissed the objections because it found they had no relation to Reid’s nominating papers.

Still under consideration is an objection to Reid’s candidacy from Lynne Greene, wife of City Clerk Rodney Greene. Her objection states that Reid failed to file a statement of economic interests with his nominating papers. Reid said at Monday’s meeting that candidates have until Monday to file related documents.

Rodney Greene has recused himself from hearings on the election for city clerk, with Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) sitting in for him.

Reid was arrested last month while petitioning for city clerk in downtown Evanston, resulting in two Evanston police officers being placed on leave. Reid was taken to the police department after failing to give specific personal information to the police officer. Reid, who is black, said he believes he was arrested because of his race.

The electoral board is set to reconvene on Monday at 9 a.m.

Marissa Page contributed reporting.

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