MARKHAM, Ill. (CBS) — Embattled Markham mayor Roger Agpawa said Sunday that he is prepared to go to the Illinois Supreme Court to stay in office after winning reelection.
Agpawa held a news conference Sunday to address a recent decision that ruled he is ineligible to hold public office due to a 1999 federal mail fraud conviction.
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A crowd of people turned out to show their support.
“It’s a matter of restorative rights; restorative justice; citizenship – and somebody that does anything, if Markham is speaking loud about it, they have a second chance to do it and lead by example, as I have,” Agpawa said.
The Appellate Court handed down a 2-1 decision ruling against Agpawa’s eligibility to hold office.
The ruling reverses earlier decisions by a lower court and a local election board.
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“Roger Agpawa, having been convicted of the infamous crime of mail fraud in 1999, was not a duly qualified candidate for any statutorily created municipal office in Illinois, including the office of Mayor of the City of Markham, and is, therefore, ineligible to hold or to take the oath of office as Mayor of the City of Markham,” the appeals court ruling states.
Agpawa ran and won office in 2017 but spent half his time fighting to get sworn in. Then-Gov. Bruce Rauner stepped in and restored his citizen’s rights.
However, the appeals court ruled while Rauner had the power to pardon Agpawa of any state crimes, he overstepped his authority when he restored Agpawa’s right to hold public office, which he lost as the result of a conviction in federal court.
“The legislature has the constitutional authority to establish the qualifications and eligibility for municipal office, and because the Governor’s pardon power does not extend to a federal offense, he cannot eliminate the collateral consequences that result from a disqualifying federal conviction,” the court ruled.
Agpawa told CBS 2’s Jermont Terry on Friday that he would not immediately step aside “because we still have the right to appeal that process.”
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“I have to say I believe the court got it wrong,” he said. “[The voters] spoke very loudly with 81% of the vote in this community.”