Suit To Invalidate Charter Board Petition Dismissed

Judge's Decisionpermits 8 Candidates To Run March 3

February 16, 1992|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. signed a motion Friday dismissing Frank H.Rammes' suit against several Republican charter board candidates, the county commissioners and the Board of Elections.

Beck's ruling ensures that the charter board candidates will be on the March 3 ballot.

Rammes had charged that the Citizens for an Elected Charter Board's petition to run against the commissioner-appointed charter board was invalid because the names of all nine candidates were on one sheetand because the group had not filed an expense statement.

Rammes,a member of the Committee for Charter Government, also said Doris Harner's withdrawal from the race was an "irregularity" that invalidated the petition.

Rammes said he was concerned that many of the signatures on the Committee for Charter Government's initial petitions, which asked the commissioners to appoint a charter board, were invalidated by election officials because of incomplete information.

"We had spent a good bit of time getting names, and then we had to start again from ground zero," Rammes said. "I felt if any group had to follow certain procedures, then all groups had to follow those procedures."

The motion to dismiss, submitted by the state attorney general, said the "plaintiff's view of the matter was wholly without foundation" and that the attorney's office had always advised petition candidates that they didn't need to file financial statements.

Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth L. Nilson said all nine candidates had sworn they would not spend more than $300 on campaign expenses. State law says such candidates need not file financial reports.

The Attorney General's Office refuted Rammes' other charges by saying that the candidates' names could be listed on one sheet because they were running for separate offices and that Harner's withdrawal did not invalidate the petition.

Commissioners Elmer C. Lippy and Donald I. Dell applauded Beck's decision.

"I could not see how he could rule any differently," Dell said, adding that the challengers had sought theattorney general's advice about the petition before filing it.

"Ifelt pretty confident that they were 100 percent legal in what they were doing," he said. "It's unfortunate that they had to have all this crazy publicity."

Negative publicity to discredit the challengers is exactly what Rammes had hoped to achieve, said charter board candidate Joseph Getty.

"It backfired," he said. "The public looks atus as victims. This is a very strong group of candidates."

But Rammes, who said he will not appeal the decision, denied that the suit's motivation was political.

"I feel that what (the challengers) are doing is not best for the county, but that's not why I filed my suit," he said. "I felt that if any citizen feels that a certain processof governmental law is not being followed, he has recourse to the court.

"That's part of what makes our country great."

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