Court keeps homeless man off Ill. village ballot
By DEANNA BELLANDI
Associated Press Writer
Daniel Fore, a homeless man and his attorney, Joseph Jacobi, right, speak at a news conference after a Cook County judge ruled that Fore could not run for a suburban village board seat because he doesn’t have an address Monday, March 9, 2009, in Chicago. The ruling upholds an Oak Park electoral board decision to bar Fore from the April 7th ballot in the suburb west of Chicago. Photo: M. Spencer Green
Although he is homeless, Daniel Fore considers himself a longtime resident of suburban Oak Park, regularly attending village meetings and being a community activist.
Fore hoped to run for a village board seat in next month’s election, but a Cook County judge barred him Monday because he did not list a local address on his election paperwork.
His attorneys plan to appeal and hope Fore will still claim a spot on the April 7 ballot in the suburb west of Chicago famous for its Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
“Mr. Fore can’t put down a street number and a street name, but he nonetheless has as deep and genuine an interest in the issues of Oak Park as anyone else who runs for office there,” said one of his attorneys, Joe Jacobi.
A homeless person can be a resident of a municipality, but the issue was whether Fore met election code requirements that ask candidates to specify their residence on paperwork, Judge Patrick McGann said in his ruling.
Fore’s paperwork indicated he was homeless and listed a post office box.
Fore could have stated when he came to Oak Park and when he became homeless and listed places that shelter him, McGann said.
“In such an instance, voters could be certain that he had a stake in the community and an understanding of the issues confronting the Village,” the judge wrote in his opinion.
Fore, 47, said that’s not fair.
“He’s asking me to give … essentially my life’s history, which is not being asked of any other candidate,” he said at a news conference after the judge’s ruling.
Two Oak Park residents, Randy Gillett and Richard Newman, challenged Fore’s candidacy because of his lack of address and failure to prove he lives in the suburb.
“The use of the term ‘Homeless’ with a post office box mailing address, as Mr. Newman complained, fails to establish that Mr. Fore is qualified to be placed on the ballot because it is nothing more than a conclusion,” McGann wrote.
Mark Sterk, an attorney for the Oak Park electoral board, said he was sympathetic toward Fore but that it would be up to state lawmakers to change the election code to handle people who list “homeless” as their address when trying to run for public office.
“I feel sorry for, you know, people like Mr. Fore and other people that are homeless that aren’t provided an opportunity to run for public office,” Sterk said.
Cook County Clerk David Orr, who oversees elections in the county, supports Fore’s case and wants to see it resolved in court.
Fore said he wants on the ballot because there are homeless people like him who need his help.
“They’re not being properly represented now,” he said.
Homeless candidates, if allowed to run, would have much to contribute when it comes to how communities deal with their poorest residents, said Patricia Nix-Hodes, associate director of the law project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
“People who have experienced homelessness are in the best position to offer their experience, their vision, what works, what doesn’t work and I feel those people have a lot to offer,” she said.