There are 5 Mayoral Candidates in Chicago, but not Lightfoot, who Face the Challenges that could Knock Them off the February Ballot
As the competition for Chicago’s top job heats up, some mayoral candidates will have to justify the legality of the petitions that allowed them to appear on the ballot. Eleven people submitted mayoral candidacy petitions to the Chicago Board of Elections last month, and five were contested by Monday’s deadline.
Former state senator Rickey Hendon, a supporter of rival candidate Willie Wilson, contested the candidacies of Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, and activist Ja’Mal Green. Wilson, in turn, is threatened with elimination from the February 28 ballot due to a signature dispute.
Lori Lightfoot, the current mayor, has a crowded field of challengers, but she will not be one of those who must defend petitions. She claimed she had more than three times the necessary signatures with her in the neighborhood of forty thousand.
“Absolute disgrace to the thousands of people who had signed petitions and helped out”-Sawyer says
In a statement issued in response, Sawyer said, in part, “Willie Wilson talks about being denied access to vote in his life, but now that he is a wealthy man, he is doing the same thing – denying people their choice of a candidate using his wealth.” What a ridiculous display of hypocrisy! Sawyer said it was an “absolute disgrace” to the thousands of people who had signed petitions and helped out.
Green walked into the Chicago Board of Elections minutes before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline for petition challenges and fired back at the Wilson campaign, claiming that nearly 50,000 of the company owner’s 61,000-plus signatures were a “total fraud.” Green stated that there were only one or two “distinct handwritings” on most of the petition pages and that the page numbers were incorrect, with some pages missing and others duplicated.
Then Green said he’s accusing Wilson of not meeting residency standards by having a primary residence outside of Chicago (he said Wilson lives in the south suburb of Hazel Crest). Even though Green claimed proof at his disposal, he initially withheld it from the assembled media.
According to Green, Wilson’s downtown location is just a campaign headquarters, not where he lives. When Hendon disputed Green’s petitions during the 2019 election, it triggered what was, at times, a heated exchange of words between the two. Green and Hendon, a flashy ex-state legislator, known as “Hollywood,” engaged in verbal sparring, with Hendon later posting on Facebook that the two had threatened to fight.
The mayoral campaigns of Johnny Logalbo and Frederick Collins, both of whom are less well-known, have also been challenged. Among the most noticeable features of Chicago’s legacy political machine is the nominating petition procedure. The 12,500 voter signatures a candidate needs to run for mayor are subject to being invalidated on extremely technical grounds.
Due to the ease with which opponents can reject signatures on the grounds of forgery, fraud, or even more minor technicalities, election attorneys typically advise candidates to collect three times the number of signatures required to avoid being eliminated from the contest. Disputes over mayoral candidates’ challenges might drag on for weeks.
Challenges to the nominating petitions of dozens of aldermanic candidates have also been filed
Former Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno, who has had legal problems and is now trying to make a political comeback in the 1st Ward, is also having his signatures challenged. Moreno has submitted paperwork to run against Alderman Daniel La Spata, who was elected to the position four years after Moreno lost to him. Stephen “Andy” Schneider and Sam Royko are also in the running.
Candidates that have had their petitions objected to tend to be those who are seeking to gain a foothold in the election process by defeating the incumbent. On the same day, however, signature challenges were filed against several sitting representatives, including Michelle Harris (8th) and Roberto Maldonado (26th).
Meanwhile, critics of Ald. Edward Burke, who has been indicted and is resigning, wanted to show unity in the face of a challenge from one of Burke’s allies running for the 14th Ward seat. Former Burke lieutenant Raul Reyes has only one opponent, Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya’s assistant Jeylu Gutierrez, and State Representative Aaron Ortiz has said he will be challenging Reyes’ signatures.