Circuit Clerk Candidate Allowed to Stay on Ballot


A Republican candidate running for Champaign County circuit clerk will remain on the ballot for her party's primary.

The legitimacy of Stephanie Holderfield's candidacy was challenged after she signed the ballot petition of Ben Carlson, a Democratic candidate running for Champaign County auditor. Holderfield signed Carlson's ballot petition during a party on Oct. 8, 2011.

Steve Frank, a Fisher attorney, had asked a three-member electoral panel to remove Holderfield's name from the ballot. However, the board determined on Friday that despite Holderfield's actions, she can still run in the race.

While Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten supported keeping Holderfield on the ballot, he said her actions in this case were extreme.

"Parties have separate nomination contests for a reasons, and candidates in my opinion should be held to higher standards," Hulten said. "It is absolutely clear in my mind that candidate Holderfield violated the statute, and should have known better and did know better."

In citing a similar case that went to trial, Hulten said since Holderfield signed ballot petitions for Republican candidates before signing the ballot petition of a Democratic candidate, her signature is not counted on Democrat Ben Carlson's petition during this election cycle.

Electoral board member and Champaign County States Attorney Julia Rietz also criticized Holderfield and Carlson for collecting signatures from people who signed each other's ballot petitions.

"It is clear that Ben Carlson and candidate Holderfield were not paying attention to who was signing their petitions," Rietz said. "No one is contesting the validity of signatures on (Holderfield's) nominating petition."

Holderfield said she is grateful that she will still be able to stay in the primary race.

"In retrospect, I would have done things differently," Holderfield said. "However, I did not know there were other people at the party that had signed Ben's petition. So, I'm grateful, however, for the opportunity that I had to remain on the ballot."

Attorney Deb Feinen represented Steve Frank, who had asked the electoral board to review Holderfield's place on the ballot. Feinen has five days to appeal the ruling, but she said she hasn't decided yet whether she will do that.

Holderfield is competing in the March 20 primary against former state legislator Rick Winkel.

Story source: WILL