Streator High School student Richard "Hank" Tutoky will be on the ballot for his high school board's April 2 election.
At the downtown Ottawa courthouse Thursday, Judge Joseph Hettel overturned a decision by the La Salle County Electoral Board removing Tutoky from the ballot after he signed nomination paperwork when he was 17 saying he was at least 18 years old. On Jan. 3, Tutoky turned 18, the minimum age to serve on the school board.
Earlier this month, Tutoky filed paperwork requesting the electoral board's Jan. 2 decision be overturned.
Hettel said the nomination paperwork turned in by Tutoky required "substantial compliance," which legally means there can be technical mistakes, so long as there's compliance with the purpose or objective.
Given an opportunity to add to the record, Streator High School Board member James Parr, who filed the objection to Tutoky's candidacy, said Thursday he believed the matter to be "strict compliance," comparing Tutoky's signature on nomination paperwork to one provided on a check.
Hettel said he recognized Parr's argument, but he disagreed.
Parr argued during the electoral board hearing Tutoky's signature may have misled some people who signed his nomination papers. Hettel addressed this during the hearing; he said there is no requirement that portion has to be signed prior to collecting signatures, and there's no way to know if it was.
Parr said he will accept the judge's decision and will work with Tutoky if he were to be elected.
Tutoky thanked Hettel and his attorney Timothy Creedon after the decision.
"Everyone has an opinion, this is fundamental to our representative democracy," Tutoky said in a written statement. "James Parr has his opinion, the La Salle County Board of Election has their opinion. I disagree with them, and so does the 13th Circuit Court of Illinois. My candidacy for the school district should be determined by the voters of District 40, and thanks to Judge Hettle and Mr. Creedon it is."
Now a senior, Tutoky said he was motivated to run for school board after the Streator High School Board accepted the resignation of band director David Grayson when he was a freshman. More than 100 people protested Grayson's resignation at a 2016 board meeting, believing the high school administration forced it.
Parr has said he believes it is a conflict of interest for a student to serve on his own school's board. He is concerned about Tutoky being in a position of authority with teachers or fellow students.
Tutoky said he doesn't see a difference between if he were to have a seat on the board or a parent of a student whose vote may be influenced by their child.
Four board seats are up for election. Board members Earl Woeltje and Biroschik filed to run for re-election. Board members Willy Williamson and Bill Darrow did not file for re-election. Newcomers Mike Mast, Gregory Dean and Eric Hoffmeyer filed petitions for candidacy. Parr's seat is not up for election this year.
Tutoky's father, Richard M. Tutoky, sits on the board and has two years remaining on his term. The older Tutoky said he doesn't always agree with his son and it will be the same way if the two served on the board together.