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‘Cheap shot,’ or ‘right thing’ to do?

Village leader challenges three candidacies

ASHTON – The village president is objecting to the candidacies of his opponent and two trustee candidates in the April 9 village election.

In their election petitions, the candidates failed to include proof that they had filed statements of economic interest with the Lee County clerk, which is required by law, officials said Thursday.

On Wednesday, Village President John Martinez challenged the candidacies of his opponent, Don Ross, and two trustees running for re-election, Richard Russell and Andrew Kida.

All three have filed statements of economic interest with the county clerk, but they didn’t include the clerk’s receipts in their petitions of candidacy, officials said.

In 2009, Martinez beat then-Village President Ross, 185-164. The Lee County village has a population of 972.

Over the last 4 years, Kida has been a Martinez ally on issues such as bringing a splash pad to town. Russell, on the other hand, often has opposed the mayor.

Russell, a 32-year board member, said that although Martinez might be right legally, the objections were a “cheap shot.” He said the mayor didn’t give him notice of his plan to object.

“I file a statement of economic interest every year with the county clerk,” he said, adding that his failure to include a receipt was a “slip-up on my part.”

He said Martinez apparently didn’t think he could beat his opponent in April.

“This will be the fourth mayor I have worked with,” Russell said. “I wasn’t always in agreement with the former mayors, but the lines of communication were open. I’ve had very little communication with this mayor.”

Kida said Martinez was right to file the objections.

“It’s true that we didn’t file the economic interest paperwork. Therefore, the petitions are disqualified,” he said. “The bottom line is that [Martinez] is doing the right thing by all parties involved, whether you are an ally or not an ally.”

Both Russell and Kida said they would consider re-entering the race as write-in candidates.

Village Clerk Sharon Van Dam said Martinez’s objections were the first she had received in her dozen years as clerk. An electoral board will decide on the merit of his objections, she said.

Such a board consists of the village president, the village clerk and the senior trustee, who is Russell.

Because Martinez and Russell are involved, Van Dam said, the two next senior trustees, Mike Emmons and Tom Balch, likely would become members. She is consulting with the village attorney to clarify the details of state election law.

The electoral board must meet within 3 to 5 business days, she said.

Kida said Martinez gave him notice that he would challenge his candidacy. He said the mayor was upset that he had to include Kida in the objections.

“I said he had to do what he had to do,” Kida said. “If people are going to question him about doing the right thing, they may want to question their value system.”

Ross and Martinez didn’t return calls for comment.

Who's running?

The candidates running in the April 9 Ashton village election, including those whose candidacies have been challenged:

Mayor: John Martinez (i), Don Ross

Three open seats on board of trustees: Andrew Kida (i), Richard Russell (i), Tom Balch (i), Susan Larson, Billie Jo Heier, Kevin O'Dell

i – incumbent

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