GENEVA – Judge David Akemann on Wednesday upheld the St. Charles Township Electoral Board's decision that Gary Fritz has not lived in the township long enough to run for office.
Fritz wanted to run against incumbent Colleen Lang for township assessor.
Although Fritz will be a township resident for at least a year on election day, Gerald Swanson objected to his eligibility because he had not lived in the township for a year when he signed his statement of candidacy on Dec. 21.
The township's electoral board agreed with the objection last month, and Fritz took the case to civil court.
Attorney John Fogarty said Fritz made a "great effort" to be on the April 9 ballot and collected 677 petition signatures – more than what's permitted under the statute.
Fritz moved to St. Charles Township on March 31, 2012, Fogarty said, arguing that would make him eligible to hold office. It does not matter that Fritz did not meet the residency requirement when he filed for candidacy, he said.
"I think that statute is clear," Fogarty said.
Derke Price, the attorney representing Swanson, argued the statement of candidacy is a "present-tense affirmation," not a prospective one.
"The election process is not one day," Price said. "The election process is exactly that – a process."
Akemann upheld the township's ruling.
"The judge followed the law of the land," Price said.
Fritz said he was disappointed by the judge's decision and that he would confer with legal counsel about his next step.
Although the decision happened quickly, Fritz said, "It's still painful."