Crestwood board looks to align Charter with municipal code on office eligibility

By Kari Williams

In response to a convicted felon filing for election to the Board of Aldermen, Crestwood officials are aligning the city’s Charter and municipal code to reflect eligibility for elective office.

The city’s Charter states candidates cannot be a convicted felon, but its municipal code does not include that restriction.

Both documents are given to candidates when they take out paperwork to file for candidacy.

Ward 2 candidate Bill Schelinski previously told the Call he was convicted in 1996 of a Class 3 Felony in Cook County, Ill., to which he pleaded guilty. Schelinski told the Call he did not read the Charter’s qualification section until after filing for office.

Mary Stadter defeated Schelinski for the Ward 2 board seat in the April 2 election.

Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel said last week he believes Schelinski’s filing was “unintentional.”

“I think it was an honest mistake that the individual filed for office,” Miguel said. “Had the code book been consistent with the Charter, I don’t believe the individual would have filed …”

Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan said she was surprised a convicted felon could get on the ballot.

“I remember a conversation that (City Clerk Tina) Flowers and I had several years ago about the process that went through (when candidates file for office) and … I was surprised that (checking for felonies) was not part of the process,” Duncan said.

Mayor Jeff Schlink said to keep in mind that the city and “most municipalities” also do not check its one-year residency requirement for candidates.

“All that we confirm is whether or not you’ve paid your taxes,” Schlink said. “And, really, checking to see convicted felonies is actually very difficult to do. There’s two ways to do it. You can do it by database or you can do it by county. By county’s much more expensive. If you just go online those are typically database searches, which don’t cover everything.”

Former Ward 3 Alderman Greg Roby told the board he would “love to see the city” have candidates sign off ­— in front of the city clerk — that they understand the qualifications to run for office.

“So if it says on there that you can’t be a convicted felon, it’s a done deal, and it just takes a second to incorporate that into our paperwork,” Roby said.

Schlink said if that were to be done, it would be completed under the guidance of the city attorney.