VOSJ Presidency Controversy Continues Over Court Filings

By Benjamin Cox on February 6, 2021 at 10:04am

Calls of impropriety continue to be heard over the ballot for Village President in South Jacksonville. On January 26th, Tyson Manker filed suit in Morgan County Court to have his name restored to the ballot in the upcoming April Consolidated Election. The Village of South Jacksonville Electoral Board consisting of current village president Harry Jennings, Village Clerk Megan Moore, and village trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart voted unanimously to have Manker struck from the ballot on the grounds that Manker failed to file his statement of economic interest with the Morgan County Clerk’s Office as required by state law in a hearing on January 21st. The objection to Manker’s candidacy was filed by current village trustee and current opponent Dick Samples. Manker contends and has evidence that he was directed via email by Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggoner’s Office to file the statement at the Village of South Jacksonville’s village hall.

In Manker’s suit filed in court, Manker claims that Samples’ objection to his candidacy didn’t ask what relief was requested in filing his objection to the South Jacksonville Electoral Board. According to the Edgar County Watchdogs website, Samples’ objection doesn’t meet Illinois Election Code. On Tuesday, Manker posted to his Village President Candidacy page that the Village failed to file all of the record of the proceedings of the Electoral Board’s meeting on January 26.

In his notice of filing, Manker says that the village electoral board failed to comply with state statute by failing to include Dick Samples’ initial objection, Manker’s own motion to strike and dismiss Samples’ objection, Samples’ response to Manker’s motion to strike and dismiss, Manker’s reply to Samples’ response, rules adopted for the electoral board hearing, and Manker’s motion to remove Jennings as chair for improper ex parte communication that Manker says includes bias against his candidacy.

On Wednesday, the Village Electoral Board filed the same paperwork that Manker had filed the day before. The Village Electoral Board had until this coming Wednesday, February 10th to file the remaining paperwork prior to the Morgan County Court hearing. Manker concludes in his filing that without the documents the court would be “prevented from assessing” Manker’s arguments properly and that the Village Electoral Board “omitted” and “selectively filed” only portions of the record in order to interfere with due process.

Manker publicly called for the immediate resignation of Harry Jennings, Paula Stewart, and Megan Moore this week. Manker stated in an email communication that the three members of the Electoral Board “have betrayed their oaths and violated the law to rig and election for their colleague, Dick Samples.” [sic]

In lieu of the Morgan County Court’s decision, Manker has indicated through his campaign page that he has filed the necessary paperwork to be an official write-in for the April Consolidated Election. Early voting for the election begins in two weeks.

An email by WLDS News seeking financial information and costs to village taxpayers for the hearing and filing costs has not been returned.