Frivolous petition challenges

I was very saddened to learn of Tumia Romero’s decision to withdraw from the election.

In reading about the recent challenge to Mayor Daley’s nominating petitions by supporters of Bill Dock Walls, the mayor’s campaign manager, Terry Peterson, is quoted as saying, “It’s time that we stop wasting taxpayers’ money in this frivolous objection to the petitions.”

As a candidate for 37th Ward alderman in 2003 and again this year, I wonder when the same statement will flow out of the mayor’s mouth to his aldermen when they constantly apply the same sort of frivolous objections to their challengers. I wonder how much more money is wasted as each alderman challenges everyone who tries to run against them. Be it one challenger or 20 challengers, we all have been subjected to the same “wasting of taxpayers’ money” by the City Council members.

Both times when I was challenged, the challenger never once showed up. Instead as a citizen, taxpayer and candidate, I represented myself before the board “pro se,” while the challengers, who are usually flunkies for the alderman, don’t have to show up but instead are represented by a high-priced Michigan Avenue attorney. Every maneuver in the book was used to scare and intimidate me as a candidate. Many of those methods have (prior to the mayor’s petitions being challenged) been considered de rigueur methods of scaring off or removing candidates from being on the ballot.

I was challenged using the same criteria that were used against the mayor. But in writing my own “Motion for Summary Judgment of Dismissal,” my allegations stating the same things of which Terry Peterson spoke was refused. Instead, I was subjected to a full records examination that went on for hours.

I was able to prove that the people who signed my petitions were registered. And the board overruled the challenger. Yet every four years, the Board of Elections goes into extended hours and costs to handle the challenges with nary a peep from the mayor until he himself was challenged. Why is that?

I urge an immediate change to the challenge process. Since the only criteria to challenge nominating papers for aldermanic candidates is that you live in the same ward, make the challenger have to appear before the board for each and every challenge just like the candidate. No more just sending in the lawyers. Also require that the challenger sign affidavits that the money to pay for those attorneys came out of their own pockets and not from the alderman’s campaign funds. I saw the men who challenged Daley’s petitions at the board for each and every hearing. Now I want every aldermanic challenger to have to do the same. Let’s see if all of a sudden those “frivolous objections to petitions” cease.

Arlene P. Jones
Candidate, 37th Ward alderman