Members of the independent Glenview School Board District 34 Caucus worked with school board member John J. "Jack" Murphy to file objections to the petitions of three challengers to incumbent candidates endorsed by the caucus for the April elections, according to an email obtained by the Tribune.
In the Dec. 31 email, Caucus President Martha O'Connell wrote that Murphy was "drawing up the objections" to petitions of candidates Glenn Farkas, Jennifer Fiebig and Mark Byrne.
The School District Electoral Board disqualified Farkas on Jan. 24 because his petition documents were missing a paper clip. The signatures on his petition had also been challenged, but he proved their authenticity.
Fiebig, who did not collect enough signatures, and Byrne, who also had problems with signatures and other technical issues, underwent the same scrutiny and withdrew their applications prior to a final ruling. Like Farkas, their petitions had also been challenged because they were not bound.
The email from O'Connell was provided to the Tribune by caucus member and former school board member Michael Cherry. It was sent to about 15 caucus members and explained the steps they should take in order to join the list of objectors.
O'Connell, who was the official objector to the petitions of Farkas, Fiebig and Byrne, referred in the email to her conversations with attorneys and caucus members Scott Uhler and Jim Nally.
"Our objections are really, really solid!" O'Connell wrote. "Talking with Jack (Murphy), Scott Uhler, and Jim Nally, an attorney specializing in election law, they all say that not binding the petitions will kill their candidacies. That is our No. 1 objection, and others will be listed as well."
O'Connell, who has been the president of the caucus for about 12 years, initially confirmed to the Tribune that she sent the email, but later, when she saw a copy of it, declined further comment.
"We're able to (challenge petitions) the same as any other registered voter or district resident," O'Connell said. " … Anybody can run, and anybody else in the district can do what we do."
Murphy confirmed that he worked with some caucus members on the objections.
"In my role as a candidate and as a private citizen, I was approached by Martha and some other people," Murphy said. "I gave advice and suggestions. There is nothing wrong with that."
He added that he did not see the final objection documents.
In addition to his school board duties, Murphy is also a lawyer with the firm Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, which represents park districts, school boards and other municipalities.
Cherry, who was first-time member of the caucus, said he believed that objecting to a petition because of a missing paper clip was silly and not worthy of anybody's time.
"Before this happened, I thought the job of the caucus was just to support candidates they selected," he said.
It shouldn't be the caucus' role to also challenge the petitions of candidates who aren't slated by the caucus, Cherry said.
"Running for office is a right, I think it should take more than a paper clip to throw someone off the ballot," Cherry said.
Both School Board President Chris Northwick and Board Member Cathe Russe, who are also running for re-election in April and were endorsed by the caucus, said that caucus members did not reach out to them about objections to other candidates' petitions.
Northwick, who said she has been a part of the caucus in the past, said that objecting to candidates' petitions could fall under the scope of the caucus, depending on the situation.
"It doesn't matter if they're a part of the caucus or not, anybody has the right to examine the petitions," Northwick said.