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Conkle controversy overshadows election

By Justin Boron

Wendy Andzeski and Angela Cannon are the ones on today's ballot for the open Lovejoy City Council seat. But much of the focus remains on the name that has been scratched from the list.

The residual effects of Ellis Conkle's disqualification have enveloped the race, as preoccupation with his eligibility to run persists even after a judge ruled two weeks ago that he could not claim Lovejoy as his valid residence.

Conkle has retained the spotlight through a write-in candidacy that has roused discord in the Cannon campaign because she said she fears his write-ins could take votes away from her and tip the scales toward Andzeski.

Andzeski said she isn't depending on gaining leverage through Cannon's lost votes.

"We shouldn't be worried about who's taking votes from us," she said. At a picnic Saturday afternoon, Cannon fed some of district three's 952 voters with grilled chicken and potato salad. A block from her picnic, a sign loomed that read: "Write-In Conkle."

"I feel like he is more of a threat than Wendy," Cannon said. "He thinks he's going to go out there and steal votes from me."

She also suggested that Conkle may be campaigning on a vendetta against her since she was the one to file protest against him.

Conkle said he had no problems with her, adding his campaign intentions were still genuine.

"I'm still trying to get elected," he said. "I want to straighten this council out."

In the face of disqualification, Conkle has continued to campaign for reform within the city government.

Conkle's list of problems with city include the administration at City Hall, where he said the city secretary consistently shows up late. He also has a problem with property tax within the city, a possibility that has re-surfaced in the recent weeks.

Write-ins for Conkle would be tallied but would not count toward his election, said Ann Nation, the election superintendent.

Cannon's supporters, several of whom work in City Hall, have stood strong behind her. The mayor, the city clerk, and a council member showed up at her picnic lending their support to the campaign.

Council member Bobby Cartwright conceded that Conkle would be more knowledgeable as a councilman but his allegiance fell on the side of devotion.

"Angela has been coming to city council meetings for the past year," he said. "She's shown an interest."

Much of the controversy stirred over Conkle has left Andzeski out of the picture in the weeks leading up to the election.

Andzeski's peripheral position has caused some to question her commitment to the job.

"Angela's opponent didn't show up to any of the Conkle hearings. Those were important meetings," said City Council member Bobby Cartwright.

Cannon also made Andzeski's low-key presence in the race a point of contention.

"I've only seen her at one council meeting," she said. "Everybody keep's asking me who is Wendy."

Andzeski contends that she attends every council meeting and has stayed in the background during the Conkle-Cannon debacle to allow them "to battle it out."