Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's David v. Goliath in many wards

Unless we really raise some hell, you won't see much press about this, but over a hundred hard-working candidates are right now being threatened with removal from the ballot by legions of election attorneys in the employ of the most powerful incumbents and wealthiest candidates in the city.

I have been doing what I can to help many of these candidates. But this is simply unjust. David Tirado in the 36th Ward is up against fifth-term candidate William Banks, probably the second most powerful alderman in the city. He has over $800,000 in his campaign account and is objecting to every candidate. Banks amassed over 10,000 signatures, more than the total voter turnout in the last aldermanic election. We have called it monopolization of the voter pool and have taken legal action to attempt to thwart it, but our challenges are being kicked out by the hearing examiners. The original actions were written by Asst. State's Attorney Daryl Jones, who is running against Emma Mitts in the 37th. I wrote two responses, one for dozens of candidate who received objections and a follow-up one for all responses.

It's not enough for these aldermen to sit pretty term after term without a challenge. When they are challenged, they budget tens of thousands of dollars to combat all comers. The least-funded candidates suffer the most, getting distracted from actually campaigning because they could spend week after week in frantic appeals to stay on the ballot, leading all the way up to the election and sometimes afterward.

We had rumors in the 43rd Ward that we all were going to be challenged by Marty Oberman or someone else. This sent candidates with less funding into a panic and caused us to chase after many more signatures than we really needed. I also anticipated objections from the better funded candidates and filed objections against all three of them, arguing the Tirado-Jones suit. So far, hearing examiner John Ashenden has denied my request to remove Tim Egan from the ballot nor even acknowledge our argument that a maximum signature limit exists in Chicago aldermanic elections. There's one for ward committeeman, and the law for alderman is ambiguous on the point.

(See the List of 191 candidates with petition objections)
(See my Petition to Truncate Signatures)
(See the Joint Response to Daley, Smith, Egan Motions to Strike)
(See the Media Advisory)


Blogger Hugh said...

Thanks for working on enforcing the maximums. I always naively viewed the petition mania as craziness, but from your writings I see its harm.

What do you think of Zorn's suggestion, give incumbents a bye?

2:17 PM  
Blogger treythomps said...

Anyone who gives this guy money is a fool.

First of all, if he does not have $1,000 to support his position, he does not demonstrate the support necessary to be alderman. I mean, $1,000 is not a lot of money.

Secondly, he and his attorney have totally misread the statute. The statute is referring in "Independent" candidates for office, not Non-Partisian which is what the Aldermen are.

Peter Zelchenko | + | 312-733-2473

10:45 AM  
Blogger Peter Zelchenko said...

It's interesting that you think that, because that is what we are trying to test in these cases. It is clear that there are problems with powerful aldermen monopolizing the petitioning process and then turning around and using their "power money" to smash the hopes of all other aspirants. Are you an attorney? Possibly you could explain to me the spirit of the law that enforces on Chicago ward committeeman an 8% maximum, but nothing on aldermen. The districts are identical, the races in Chicago are practically the same - and the candidates are even the same. Please tell me what you think about that paradox, my anonymous friend.

Are you talking about me when you say we don't have $1,000? We have a good deal more than $1,000. Perhaps $1,000 is not a lot of money to you, but it represents a lot of money to the many well-meaning candidates who certainly managed one hurdle for credibility reasonably well: namely, that they collected more than enough signatures to get on the ballot. It's hard work in bitter cold, yet, for each of them, several hundred voters expressed enough confidence in them and the democratic process that they were willing to sign their names to them. Are you suggesting that money is more important than that?

For the record, I did not use a lawyer when writing the legal arguments for this; I did it myself. Campaigns have to stretch their dollars and cannot afford to throw all of their money into this.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you do not know the difference between an election for public office (alderman) and the NOMINATION of a party official (committeeman), then you are not qualified for either

7:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home