Stein Wins Objection, Battinus Removed from Ballot

Buffalo Grove resident Jeff Battinus won't be permitted to seek election this spring, after Andy Stein successfully objected to his petition.

Buffalo Grove resident Jeff Battinus’ name won’t appear on the April 9 ballot, village officials ruled Monday, making the spring election uncontested. 

The village’s electoral board unanimously agreed that state law prohibits candidates from appearing on the ballot if they miss filing deadlines for required paperwork. While Battinus filed most of his paperwork on Dec. 17, he failed to submit his statement of economic interests before the Dec. 26 deadline. He submitted the form on Jan. 2.

The missed deadline was called out last week by Trustee Andy Stein, another election candidate. Stein urged Battinus to withdraw his candidacy before he filed an official objection, which sparked Monday’s hearing.

Before the electoral board, made up of Village President Jeff Braiman, Trustee Jeff Berman and Village Clerk Janet Sirabian, came to their conclusion, they referenced three other similar cases. In each of those cases, the potential candidate was not permitted to run for election.

“I have found no cases that contradict these three cases,” said attorney Jeffrey Stein (no relation to Andy Stein), who represented the electoral board.

During the 45-minute hearing, Battinus described the omission as “simply a mistake” and claimed that Stein’s objection was “self-serving.”

“Laws are designed to protect people and property, not to stifle competition,” said Battinus, who urged the electoral board to “vote for true democracy today” by allowing his name to appear on the ballot.

“Whatever sympathies we may have … the courts have held that the rules reflected in the state statue are mandatory,” Berman replied.

“I agree with you that having more people running is a good thing,” Braiman said. But, he added, it’s not fair to place the blame on Andy Stein since Battinus was responsible for submitting the proper paperwork.

“They are correct. I need to be accountable for it,” Battinus said after the hearing. “I did make a mistake, and for that I apologize for the people of Buffalo Grove.”

Immediately after the hearing, Stein said he was pleased with the outcome. 

“Based on all the research that I did, I couldn’t imagine that this wasn’t going to be the result,” he said, referencing the legal precedent.

Battinus said he’s not sure whether he’ll seek election again in the future, but if he does, “the same mistake won’t be repeated,” he said.

His main objective was to give voters a choice when electing trustees this spring, he said. “If there were other people running, I would not have attempted to fight this,” he said.

In addition to Stein, current trustees Beverly Sussman and Lester Ottenheimer are seeking election to the three open seats.

ed conner January 08, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Well, let's not waste any money printing ballots and having an election. Let's just declare the winners now.
Chet Lemonade January 08, 2013 at 03:22 PM
There are other contested races on the ballot besides the village board.
Abigail January 08, 2013 at 03:53 PM
I'm concerned about Stein taking the lead on this--it makes him look bad. He must be concerned that, with added competition, he would be on the losing end.
J January 08, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Mr. Stein has done a very admirable thing. Let's just say, for example, that Mr. Battinus gets on the ballet and wins. Who do you think is going to come crashing the doors at the village hall meeting with accusations against the village, trustees and Mr, Battinus? I'm sure that Mr. Battinus will be back and is now more educated about the process.
sankar January 08, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Not Nice.
RELENTLESSCRITIC January 09, 2013 at 02:28 AM
So lets see...we get angry when politicians don't follow the rules, then we chastise them when they actually do follow them. Can't have it both ways. The rules weren't followed, and as unfortunate as that was, why should we start bending them just to be "nice". Would we do the same if a candidate made a mistake in a financial disclosure that was filed? Would we still want to cut them some slack if they made a "mistake" and accidentally omitted declaring a sizable financial contribution to their campaign fund? Would you consider that "not nice" either? The point is, we have to draw the line somewhere- and sticking to the clearly defined rules and guidelines is the only way to make certain that people don't start playing fast and loose with them. I am sure Battinus made an honest mistake, but if we overlook it, how do we know the next person who tries to get forgiveness for a mistake will be equally honest? Just opens the door to the possibility of shenanigans in the future. Better to hold the line and learn from it. It's isn't about being "nice" it is about being consistent and fair.
ed conner January 09, 2013 at 02:01 PM
This argument is completely specious. Some of us don't get angry when minor, arbitrary rules are broken, we get angry when important rules are broken. Failing to file one document by 3 business days is simply not important -- period. Do you believe anyone was clamoring to read that document over the Xmas holidays? My god, get some common sense. And this has nothing to do with being "nice" (and by the way, where did that come from?). This has to do with giving the electorate a choice, which we are now denied because of a TRIVIAL oversight. If failing to file a single document (out of many) by 3 business days is "playing fast and loose with the rules", your standards are ridiculously high. Very few elected officials could meet them. Also, this thing stinks because if no objection had been raised, Battinus would be on the ballot and everyone would have gone forward with their lives. Stein, who stood to benefit monumentally by objecting, was the only one to do so. That's the worst part of this as far as I'm concerned. That was a cowardly act, and he should be ashamed. Again, I will point out that he did nothing when Lisa Stone flaunted the rules at every board meeting -- why is he suddenly a stickler for the rules in this instance? The answer is obvious -- he is afraid of losing.
Larry Thome January 09, 2013 at 02:14 PM
I understand and get the decision and why it needed to be made. My question is why is Mr.Stein the one reviewing potential candidate's paperwork? Isn't there some other person/group in the village tasked with overseeing the process? Seems like a potential conflict of interest and raises more concern of who raised the objection then just the issue of missing a deadline by a few days.
Abigail January 09, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Thank you, Ed!
Abigail January 09, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Maybe we can do a write-in vote for Battinus.
RELENTLESSCRITIC January 09, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Ed- This argument is anything but specious. If we follow your logic, who will be the arbitor of determining what is a "minor" or "arbitrary" decision or rule and what is an "important" one? The rules are in place to clearly articulate what is expected- they are not guidelines which may or may not be followed depending on whether someone feels the need or not. If the rules aren't suitable, there are ways to get them changed, but there should be legitimate reasons to do so. They should not be viewed as something that can be tinkered with every time someone doesn't like them, or they become completely useless altogether. And, the responsibility for properly completing and filing the paperwork lies with the candidates. The Village Clerk simply collects the documentation- it is not their job nor responsibility to check the veracity of the submissions. Those submissions become public record and anyone can view them. In this case, Stein did (but I doubt he's the only one) and noticed the omission, and then decided to contest Battinus' candidacy. Perfectly legitimate to do so, IMHO. At least someone is paying attention to what candidates are doing. If Battinus were to get elected as a Trustee, he'd be under the same type of scrutiny and we'd expect him to follow the rules, wouldn't we? So what make this situation any different?
RELENTLESSCRITIC January 09, 2013 at 05:28 PM
I find it very interesting that there's so much sympathy and support for someone who violated the rules, and the people who actually tried to uphold the rules and do the right thing are being demonized. Was Stein's objection an act of cowardice, as Ed suggests, or was he simply doing the right thing by following the rules and expecting others to do so? Since when is it wrong to expect people to follow the rules? Why do you think it's ok to give Battinus an unfair advantage by filing documents late- a clear violation of the rules whether it was intentional or not? Would giving Battinus a pass on this be fair to the other candidates who did things properly? Nope.
J January 09, 2013 at 06:06 PM
I firmly believe that going forward, after all of the accusations at the village board meetings, that the Village and Trustees are honestly trying to make sure that the rules are followed in order to prevent questions/accusations from occurring in the future. Without 'following the rules', credibility is brought into doubt and taxpayer dollars are wasted rehashing things to 'prove a point'. Regardless of what Mr. Stein has to gain or lose, he is did the right thing.
StandToReason January 09, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Politics 101 - Anticipate your opponent(s) to challenge you on every front possible! Didn't Barack Obama successfully challenge an opponent's paperwork and get him removed from the ballot during the primary for State Senate? Didn't Lisa Stone challenge the petitions submitted to put her recall on the ballot? Luckily, the good citizens who led the recall effort anticipated her objections and made darn sure every bit of paperwork was in order and submitted on time. Rookie mistake by Mr. Battinus but politics is not for the naive! I agree with you, Mr. Conner, that the electorate should have more options on the ballot but I'm curious - what have you personally done to ensure such options? Did you work on Mr. Battinus' campaign and help insure successful ballot access? Have you considered running yourself or perhaps encouraged like-minded people to run and help them organize a successful campaign? If we are content to let others do the heavy lifting then we shouldn't be surprised when things don't go our way. Of course Mr. Stein doesn't want to lose his seat at the table (what politician does?) and kudos to him for ensuring himself an easy (and inexpensive) victory. And to Mr. Battinus - I know its a hard lesson to learn but I hope you will try, try again.
sankar January 09, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Is there an option of a write-in vote?.
sankar January 10, 2013 at 12:41 AM
RELENTLESSCRITIC, Again "Not Nice". Stein could have chosen not to file the objection and without the objection, Mr.Battinus would have contested the elections. You will be relentlessly criticizing if a person chooses to hijack the village board meeting, divert the agenda and ramble on about stuff that is irrelevant , just because they can do it legally.
RELENTLESSCRITIC January 10, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Sankar- I have absolutely no idea what your last comment means. 1). How could Battinus have contested the election? 2). How can a person "legally" hijack a board meeting, divert the agenda, and ramble on about stuff that is irrelevant? 3). Why wouldn't I criticize someone who does that stuff? What makes that behavior right? Did you not learn anything from the Lisa Stone nightmare? Or weren't you paying attention? And by the way, whether Stein's actions were nice or not is not really the issue. He did the right thing by following the rules and expecting others to do the same. Perhaps Battinus was not nice for expecting special treatment when he didn't abide by the rules?
ed conner January 10, 2013 at 01:45 PM
RC -- I cannot argue that Battinus' oversight was OK, because it was not. I think the board probably had no choice but to rule the way it did. My contention all along has been that the value to the Village of a competitive election outweighs the value of enforcing the rule in this instance. It's not as black and white to me as to some -- I believe there are degrees of rule-breaking. For example, failing to file the document altogether, or filing all paperwork after the deadline, would be more serious violations of the rule. I just don't think that a single document (out of many) filed 3 days late during the holidays rises to the level of seriousness to prevent a candidate from running for office, especially under the circumstances we now face of an uncontested election. But the ruling against Battinus itself does not bother me nearly as much as the fact that it was Trustee Stein who filed the objection. Whatever else you want to say about this situation, the undeniable end result is that one individual, uniquely positioned to benefit from the ruling, has effectively disenfranchised the entire village. Our votes for Trustee now mean nothing -- I think that stinks, and I blame Trustee Stein for denying me (and thousands of other citizens) a choice in this election. By the way, for the record, I am not a Battinus supporter nor, until recently, have I been a Stein detractor. I had never heard of Mr Battinus until the Stein objection appeared in the Patch.
RELENTLESSCRITIC January 10, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Ed- Would it have been any different if more than one of the candidates objected? It would have looked like they were ganging up on Battinus. Let's face it, not many people take the time to look at the paperwork that candidates file. In fact, I dare say that the only people (other than the officials who manage the election process) who review the filing documents are the candidates themselves. My guess is that at most, 5 people scrutinized the documents- and three of them were the candidates. Probably no one from the general public looked at them. So, if Stein didn't catch the mistake and challenge it, Battinus could have potentially made it to the ballot and gotten elected even though he didn't follow the rules and had an unfair advantage (albeit a small one) over the other candidates who did things properly. Stein hasn't disenfranchised the entire Village. I (and many others) respect and admire that he did the right thing. I'm certain he knew that this might create some bad press because people would question his motives, but the bottom line is that he and the other candidates followed the rules and he (and all of us voters) should expect that ALL candidates abide by them. No special considerations, no excuses, no hall passes. Don't blame Stein for denying you a choice in the election. Blame Battinus for not filing correctly and denying himself a spot on the ballot, and blame your fellow residents for not stepping up to be candidates.
sankar January 15, 2013 at 08:23 PM
Hi RelentlessCritic, Hope you are still reading this post, To answer your questions. RC question : 1). How could Battinus have contested the election? Answer : The meaning of the word contested is "Engage in competition to attain (a position of power)" (Thanks google). Battinus contested the election is for Mr.Battinus to engage in the competition (elections) to attain the position of power in the village board. Mr.Battinus filed papers to contest in the elections. If the papers were approved, he would have contested the elections. His papers were not approved because Stein chose to object to the papers on a technicality (A point of law or a small detail of a set of rules). If Stein had not objected, Mr.Battinus would have contested the elections. Please do not hesitate to respond if you need more clarity. RC Q2)2). How can a person "legally" hijack a board meeting, divert the agenda, and ramble on about stuff that is irrelevant? Answer : Filibuster. Can you figure out why it cannot be used in the village board legally?. RCQ3). Why wouldn't I criticize someone who does that stuff? What makes that behavior right? Did you not learn anything from the Lisa Stone nightmare? Or weren't you paying attention? Answer : You have every right to criticize. Lisa Stone issue was a very unique situation, there is no way it can be generalized. Dissent is not bad if it is done properly.


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