NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — New debate and more controversy over three non-elected positions in the Town of Normal and if those positions and candidates should appear on April’s municipal election ballot.

The question for Normal’s electoral board; are the petitions for city clerk, supervisor and collector legally valid?

Friday’s electoral board hearing was brief and at its core, two objections to three petitions. The Town of Normal’s outside legal counsel previously ruled against the three names appearing on the ballot, but the candidates lawyered up which gives their ballot hopes a new life.

Tom DeVore, the southern-Illinois attorney who sued Governor Pritzker over COVID-19 restrictions and also ran for attorney general is now fighting for the three candidates. Those candidates are Amy Conklin for town clerk, Charles Sila for Town Collector, and Robert Shoraga for town supervisor.

“This particular case is no different than others I’ve handled the last couple of years,” DeVore said. “Is this town following the law or not, those types of cases I’m always interested in.”

DeVore and his counterpart, Todd Greenburg appeared in front of Normal’s Electoral Board Friday morning. Greenburg told press after the meeting, his clients, Patrick Dullard and Jeff Fritzen’s main argument is simple.

“In a nutshell, because these offices don’t exist as elective offices period,” Greenburg said.

But DeVore and his clients argue a section of the Illinois Municipal Code that states:

65 ILCS 5/3.1-25-95) (from Ch. 24, par. 3.1-25-95)
    Sec. 3.1-25-95. Incorporated town officers. For the general municipal election to be held in the year 1985 in every incorporated town with a population of 25,000 or more by the last official census, and every 4 years thereafter, the municipal clerk shall certify the names of the candidates to the proper election authority as provided by the general election law. A president, a clerk, an assessor, a collector, and a supervisor shall be elected for a term of 4 years and until their successors are elected and have qualified. Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of any of the specified officers, the vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of the term at the next general municipal election in that incorporated town as provided in Section 3.1-10-50. Whenever an election is held for this purpose, the municipal clerk shall certify the office to be filled and the candidates for that office to the election authorities as provided in the general election law. During the period from the time a vacancy occurs until a clerk, assessor, collector, or supervisor is elected and has qualified, the vacancy may be filled by appointment by the president and board of trustees of that incorporated town voting jointly. During the period from the time a vacancy occurs until a president is elected and has qualified, the vacancy may be filled by appointment by the board of trustees of that incorporated town.
(Source: P.A. 87-1119.)

“This statute is absolutely crystal clear, it says you shall have these,” DeVore said.

However, Greenburg, a former Bloomington City attorney said that the law only applies to the Town of Cicero and not Normal because Normal was never a civil township.

“It applies to the Town of Cicero, now the legislature didn’t say that but those are township offices. Cicero is a town that superseded a civil township; townships have supervisors, townships have collectors,” Greenburg said.

Cicero and Normal are the only two towns in Illinois with more than 50,000 people. DeVore said lawmakers wrote the law to include any incorporated town, if not then it’d be a village.

“If the legislature intended to somehow differentiate certain types of incorporated towns, they would’ve said so. They would’ve made the distinction in some fashion between Cicero and Normal. They didn’t,” DeVore said.

But Greenburg said the Town of Normal electing a clerk, supervisor, and collector would be redundant because there are already multiple townships that the Town of Normal is within.

“Because there are already supervisors and there are already collectors in the city limits of the Town of Normal,” Greenburg said.

Normal’s Electoral Board is in recess on the matter. Next up, it will most likely be heard soon in the court system.

Residents should also note, Normal’s Electoral Board according to code is made up of the mayor, longest-serving council member, and town clerk. However, in this instance, councilmember Scott Preston is serving in the clerk’s place due to a conflict of interest regarding the clerk’s office.

Mayor Chris Koos was unable to attend Friday’s meeting for reasons not disclosed.