Attorneys for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District will appear in Cook County court on Wednesday in order to hammer out details on scheduling in a case filed by the water treatment board last week over an appointment made by Gov. Bruce Rauner earlier this year.
The MWRD sued Cook County Clerk David Orr on Friday, seeking a judge’s call on whether or not Rauner appointee David Walsh should be forced to abdicate his seat after the November election, even though his appointment is supposed to run until 2020.
When former Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Tim Bradford died in early December of last year, three days before the filing deadline for primary candidates, Orr’s office consulted with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and decided that the contest should be decided with a write-in election.
Democrat Cameron Davis and Green Party member Geoffrey Cubbage signed on as candidates for the seat, but there was no Republican in the primary. However, just a few days after Davis garnered a whopping 54,183 write-in votes in the March primary, Rauner appointed Walsh to fill the vacancy left by Bradford.
Orr told The Daily Line Tuesday either Davis or Cubbage should have the ultimate right to the seat.
“It’s always better to let the voters decide an election,” Orr said. “For example, there’s other rules where when somebody dies, usually they might be replaced temporarily, but only until the next election…So we think we don’t need any of this. There was that election, there was a contest for write-in ballots and the individual who got the most votes should have that seat after November.”
Rauner spokeswoman Patty Schuh told The Daily Line that Rauner was just following the law when he appointed Walsh this spring.
“Under Illinois law, the governor had a responsibility to make an appointment,” Schuh said. “He made that appointment. It is an extremely unusual circumstance so [the MWRD is] seeking clarity on the law.”
In its complaint, filed on Friday, the MWRD said the “dispute requires immediate adjudication,” or else two people would have a claim to the $70,000 per year job.
Rauner’s March appointment of Walsh was the third time Rauner tapped Walsh to fill a vacancy on the board. In September 2015, the governor had appointed Walsh to fill the vacancy left after former Commissioner Patrick Daley Thompson was elected 11th Ward alderman.
Walsh left in late 2016, but was tapped again to fill Cynthia Santos’ seat when she moved on to the Illinois Pollution Control Board. But in replacing Bradford, Rauner appointed Walsh to fill the “Bradford Vacancy,” thus creating a vacancy for Santos’ seat, which Rauner filled with former State Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago.)
Earlier this summer, Rauner asked Dunkin to step down from his post following allegations that the former state representative harassed women while serving in the Illinois House.
Speaking to The Daily Line earlier this month, Davis said the fight over the seat is causing people to lose sight of the bigger picture.
“It’s not just about this latest attempt to grab the seat, but it’s really about our water,” Davis said. “That’s kind of why I ran, it wasn’t to be an elected official, it’s because I’ve worked for more than 30 years in the public interest for water.”