Moline Mayor Raes defends filing complaints against election challengers

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MOLINE, Illinois — Moline Mayor Scott Raes says he's challenging the petitions of both of his opponents because it's like hitting a home run and not tagging all the bases along the way.

"The reason I did it is I believe they were filed incorrectly. I hired an attorney to research this on my behalf," said the incumbent.

But the challengers say they don't buy the baseball analogy, and are crying foul.

"I think it's dirty politics. It's disheartening. I think he's stooping at anything to get me off the ballot," said Bob Vogelbaugh, aka "Mr. Thanksgiving", who filed his petitions with 150 signatures last month to run for mayor.

Vogelbaugh was summoned to Moline City Hall by clerk Tracy Koranda, and when he arrived, he says there were deputies in uniform to serve him the complaint.

It states that his nominating petitions were not numbered at the bottom, which is "statutorily defective" and "his name not to be allowed as a candidate for Mayor."

Raes' other challenger, Alderwoman Stephanie Acri, was also served for the same reason.

So was Sonia Berg, who is running for Alderwoman At-Large. And , Alderman John Zelnio, in a complaint filed by his challenger, Dick Potter.

All four in question did not number their pages.

Deputy County Clerk John Brown says he has presided over many electoral challenges in the county, and says in his opinion, the challenges are based on  a "technicality", and the voters should be able to have their say.

"In my experience and I've been doing this work now for almost 40 years, that would be considered a technicality assuming that's the only objection. That would not be enough for me to throw that person off of the ballot," he said.

The candidates say the wording was not clear at the bottom of the petitions, and there was no line to enter any numbers.

(See and compare samples of the petitions in question in our video story above).

"Evidently, I forgot to number by petition, and I didn't see a place to put it and no one said they needed to be numbered," Vogelbaugh said.

"To challenge the numbering process, particularly if it appears the ability to put a page number is not there. It's a technicality. It's there to reference a page number and a line number for the purpose of identifying specific names, signed on the petitions," Brown said.

Raes says he's heard from a couple people who are angry that he's challenging his opponents, especially Mr. Thanksgiving, but says the law is the law.

"It's like being mad at a policeman for giving you a ticket when you're in the wrong," Raes said.

A three person panel will hear the complaints filed by Raes on Monday at City Hall. The case would win up in front of a circuit court judge.

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