Clerk race

Democrat Stacy Gall, left, and Republican Destini Sutherland-Hall, right

KANKAKEE — One day prior to election day and one Kankakee race has already been decided — not by the voters, but by the court.

The next Kankakee city clerk will be Stacy Gall, a Democrat. Ballots cast for Gall’s Republican Party challenger, Destini Sutherland-Hall, will not be counted as she was ruled not to be a candidate any longer by Kankakee County Circuit Court Associate Judge Nancy Nicholson on Monday afternoon.

In her ruling, Nicholson said there was no evidence presented to overturn the 3-0 decision of the Kankakee Electoral Board on March 22 to remove Sutherland-Hall from the ballot.

The electoral board is comprised of Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, 7th Ward Alderman Carl Brown and City Clerk Anjanita Dumas.

As a result of Monday’s ruling, Gall, a Kankakee 2nd Ward alderwoman, who is not seeking re-election to the Kankakee City Council, will be the only candidate on the ballot and previous ballots cast in early or mail-in voting for Sutherland-Hall will not be counted.

The electoral board voted Sutherland-Hall off the ballot based on an objection filed from Kankakee resident Rhonda Love. Love challenged that Sutherland-Hall gained signatures for her nominating petition prior to her March 10 nomination by the Kankakee Republican Party Central Committee.

Just moments after the decision was handed down, Sutherland-Hall said she believed the objection to her candidacy came not from Love, but someone within the city government.

She said she believed some would oppose her presence at City Hall as she would not be a rubber stamp.

“I question everything,” she said. “This is what we are to do as free-thinking people.”

A request by Kankakee attorney Jamie Boyd on the behalf of Sutherland-Hall to stay the ruling until the electoral board’s ruling could be heard at the 3rd District Appellate Court in Ottawa also lost out due to the timeliness in which the case could be heard — meaning there was no way to hear a request for an emergency stay of the circuit court’s ruling — prior to Tuesday’s consolidated election.

Steven Laduzinsky, the attorney representing Love, said following the ruling by Nicholson he never believed there was any need for the circuit court appeal to be entertained.

Due to the timing of this case — meaning it being directly in front of Tuesday’s election — Kankakee County Clerk Dan Hendrickson said notices will be placed inside city polling places informing voters Sutherland-Hall is no longer a candidate.

Said Boyd: “She’s done. It’s too late. This is frustrating. It’s disappointing.”

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.