OTTAWA — If Jim Cullinan still wants to be an Oglesby city commissioner, he’ll have to campaign as a write-in candidate.

Thursday, a La Salle County judge upheld last month’s 2-1 decision to remove Cullinan from the April 2 ballot for city council. Circuit Judge Joseph P. Hettel said he reviewed the transcripts and found no significant errors by the panel that granted an objection to Cullinan’s nominating forms.

After the hearing, Cullinan and Peru attorney Julie Ajster said they would not appeal today’s ruling to the 3 rd District Appellate Court. Ajster acknowledged that the judge had given careful consideration to Cullinan’s petition but “the law is the law.”

In a 35 minute ruling, the judge decided that Cullinan had withdrawn his nominating papers in violation of the law that prohibits a candidate from doing so. Hettel said he also considered, but was largely untroubled by, other issues such as the composition of the panel that ruled against Cullinan.

As previously reported, Cullinan’s handling of his nominating forms drew an objection from incumbent commissioner Tom Porter. After a series of hearings, the divided panel ruled Jan. 8 that Cullinan improperly withdrew and re-filed his papers, which also were altered after city clerk Stacie Mertes declined to notarize them.

Hettel had presided Monday over a one-hour hearing in which Cullinan’s attorney said the panel got it wrong.

“Our position is he was giving (the papers) to be notarized, not to be filed,” Ajster said, arguing Cullinan’s papers weren’t automatically voided when he took them back to be notarized.

Porter’s attorney disputed that. La Salle attorney Tom McClintock argued the prohibition against withdrawing papers applies to the candidate, not the clerk, putting the onus on Cullinan to file his papers correctly the first time.

“When he moved away from the window, he left the papers with the clerk,” McClintock said. “That’s a filing.”

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or Follow him on Twitter @NT_Court.


Tom Collins is the NewsTribune Senior Reporter. He can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or
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