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Cloyd wins appeal to have her name on Pekin's mayoral ballot

230105 Cloyd courthouse steps.jpg
Joe Deacon
Pekin City Council member and mayoral candidate Becky Cloyd, left, exits the Tazewell County Courthouse on Thursday after a judge granted her appeal and returned her name to the ballot for the April election.

Becky Cloyd’s name will appear on the April ballot for Pekin mayor after all.

A Tazewell County circuit judge on Thursday granted Cloyd’s appeal of last month’s 2-1 vote by the Pekin Electoral Board that invalidated her nominating petitions.

“This is the outcome that we expected,” Cloyd said outside the courtroom after Judge Paul Bauer rendered his judgement overturning the board’s decision to uphold challenges against Cloyd’s paperwork that were filed by John Burns and Tim Latronico.

“We were baffled that the city voted the way they did. However, we’re thankful that Judge Bauer voted in our favor and that I will be on the ballot and looking forward to being the next mayor of Pekin.”

The initial challenge centered around Cloyd’s failure to properly fill out and sign the circulator section at the bottom of each petition page. Cloyd served as her own circulator and had filled out her address and provided her signature elsewhere on the petitions.

In his ruling, Bauer agreed with Cloyd attorney Tom DeVore’s legal argument that her petitions met a substantial compliance threshold. DeVore cited a 1981 Illinois Appellate Court decision in Schumann v. Kumarich as on-point precedent.

“There was never any doubt that that was going to be the ruling because of the Schumann case; you don't often find where you have the exact case that’s been in front of a court before,” said DeVore, adding he believed current Mayor Mark Luft erred in voting against Cloyd in his role as chair of the electoral board.

“I appreciated the citizen objectors raising their arguments. Unfortunately, for the people that were at the actual hearing with the electoral board, it was clear to me that it was just Chairman Luft – for whatever reason, politically or otherwise – rendering a decision that he knew was going to get overturned in the court.”

Cloyd is facing fellow Pekin City Council member Dave Nutter and former Tazewell County Treasurer Mary Burress in the mayor’s race. Luft chose not to seek re-election and had already endorsed Burress before he cast the deciding vote against Cloyd in the electoral board hearing.

“It's no secret that he supports somebody else for mayor, and so to the extent he was doing this because he just wanted to make it more complicated for my client,” said DeVore. “That could have been his motivation and maybe the people of Pekin will ask him to explain himself.”

The political rivalry between Luft and Cloyd has escalated since Cloyd sided with a successful effort to terminate former city manager Mark Rothert. Luft said that split vote by the city council in October factored in his decision not to seek another term.

Burns, Latronico and city attorney Katherine Swise said they would not appeal Bauer’s decision to reinstate Cloyd’s candidacy. Cloyd said she was anxious to get her campaign jump-started.

“We’re very excited because now we have a launching pad,” she said. “I felt like I was in a holding pattern, and now I’m ready to take off and start pounding the pavement and making the next steps towards the campaign.”

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.