6 File to Run for Park Forest Mayor; 2 May Have Trouble Staying on the Ballot

Village Hall after storm, Park Forest mayor
Park Forest Village Hall. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Correction regarding Mae Brandon’s petition packet below. An objection to her packet would not be sustained.

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Six people have filed petition packets to run for Park Forest Mayor. Two of the six appear to have problems with their packets. If challenged, they may very well not make it to the ballot.

eNews Park Forest has copies of each petition packet for all offices for those who filed to run in the April 2, 2019 Consolidated Election in Park Forest. Three filed to run for three Village Trustee seats, and three filed to run for three Library Board seats. The office of Park Forest Mayor is the only one that has contesting candidates, six people running for one seat.

In alphabetical order, Mae Brandon, 28 Braeburn Dr., Park Forest, currently senior Village Trustee, filed; JeRome Brown, 514 Blair St., Park Forest, filed; Emma J. Cox, 5 Rich Court, Park Forest, filed; Renee Hawthorne, 440 Indianwood Blvd., Park Forest, filed; Sean P. Hightower, 438 Tamarack St., Park Forest, filed; and current Village Trustee Jonathan Vanderbilt, 244 Krotiak Rd., Park Forest, filed.

Of the six who filed for Park Forest Mayor, five indicated in the affidavit at the bottom of each petition page they they gathered signatures alone. Mae Brandon is the only candidate who had others assist gathering signatures. Her petitions show, besides herself, the following people circulated one or more pages of petitions for her: Stanley D. Price, Roy R. Dillard, Christine R. Blue, Myrtle C. Martin, Therese H. Goodrich, Ernest J. Davis Jr., Phyllis Mathews, Barbara Sturges, Andrew Gladstone, Marilyn L. Bedwell, Griselda E. Moore, Lynne E. Farmer, Phillip Perkins, Linda Diana Bailey, Pedro Luna, Mary Dankowski, Neila Rae Peacock, Sevena Merchant, Becky Czmyr, Mary Kay Joens, and Calvin Lacefield.

Problem Petition Packets

It would appear that there are credible potential challenges for two of those who filed to run for mayor: Emma J. Cox and Sean P. Hightower. For Ms. Cox, the problem is that her Statement of Economic Interest was never filed with the Cook County Clerk. For Mr. Hightower, none of the petition pages he submitted bear his address at the top. They only show the Zip Code 60466.

The Statement of Economic Interest from Ms. Cox, lacking the required seal from the Office of the Cook County Clerk indicating that the document was properly filed:

?attachment_id=179256

Ms. Cox’s petition packet leads with her Statement of Economic Interests on top. The statement Ms. Cox filed lacks a stamp from the Cook County Clerk, indicating that she never filed her Statement of Economic Interest with the Cook County Clerk. Mae Brandon filed her Statement of Economic Interest November 30, 2018; JeRome Brown filed his December 14, 2018; Renee Hawthorne filed hers December 7, 2018; Sean Hightower filed his December 10, 2018; and Jonathan Vanderbilt filed his November 29, 2018.

The required stamp shows clearly at the top of the statement filed by Mae Brandon:

?attachment_id=179260”

Ms. Cox also left blank the line on the Statement of Economic Interest that says, “LIST EACH OFFICE OR POSITION OF EMPLOYMENT FOR WHICH THIS STATEMENT IS FILED.” Had she filed this paper with the County Clerk and procured a stamp on the document, it likely would still be invalid because of that fact.

Mr. Hightower signed the bottom of every petition he submitted, indicating that he was the circulator of all of his petitions. However, at the top of each page, the box that says “ADDRESS–ZIP CODE” does not bear Mr. Hightower’s street address, nor does it indicate that he lives in “Park Forest, IL.” Instead, each petition page simply has “60466” handwritten, which does not qualify as an address.

Sean Hightower, petition, election, mayor
The top of one petition page from Mr. Sean Hightower’s election packet which lacks Mr. Hightower’s address in the box at the right. Only “60466” shows in the box. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Originally, eNews Park Forest reported in this space the following: “Finally, Mae Brandon herself may have a problem if the copy of her packet eNews Park Forest received this afternoon from the Deputy Village Clerk is complete. If the packet is complete, it appears Ms. Brandon only submitted the first page and not the second page of her Statement of Economic Interest. The first page, however, does have a stamp on it from the Cook County Clerk, so it is unclear at this time if that would disqualify Ms. Brandon’s entire packet.”

If someone did file an objection to Ms. Brandon’s packet, that objection would not be sustained, eNews Park Forest has learned. Ms. Brandon filed the “receipt” of her Statement of Economic Interest from the clerk’s office, the page that was stamped in the Cook County Clerk’s office. That is the requirement. Her entire statement is on file with the clerk’s office. The requirement for the packet is to file the receipt along with all other required documents in the petition packet. An objection to her petition packet would not be sustained.

Unless an objection is filed to any petition packet and the objection is sustained in a hearing, all six candidates for Park Forest Mayor will be on the ballot. The last day to file an objection is December 26, 2018, as Village Hall is closed on December 24 and 25.