Last week’s primaries are over, although the controversy surrounding a Jan. 30 recorded message left by Ald. Ed Smith (28th) on the answering machines of his constituents is still simmering.
The message was an endorsement for Democrat Annazette Collins, the incumbent state representative in the 10th District, who ran for re-election and won. Smith expressed his support for Collins, but pointed out that one of her challengers, public-interest activist Jonathon Goldman, “lives in the Bucktown and Lincoln Park area” and stated that Goldman “wants to take over the East and West Garfield areas.”
Upon hearing the message, the Goldman campaign, along with a multicultural group of public leaders denounced the tactic, calling it a racial jab. Goldman was the only white candidate seeking the party nomination in the district. He felt pointing out that his home is in Bucktown (Goldman does not live in Lincoln Park), which is a primarily white neighborhood, was an attempt by Smith to label him as the “white candidate.”
“The only reason to mention it is to say that those are the white neighborhoods,” said Goldman in a phone interview with Austin Weekly News. “Everyone came up to me saying, ‘This is an attempt to point out your race versus [those] of the other candidates.'”
Smith vehemently denied the notion that the message contained any racial implication.
“I don’t pit the races against each other. I’ve always promoted racial harmony,” Smith said.
The alderman claims that Goldman ran a smear campaign against Collins throughout much of the race. Speaking to Austin Weekly News by phone, Smith refused to elaborate much about what he was referencing.
“He’s [Goldman] always talking about how bad she was,” Smith said. “He ran an unprofessional campaign. You don’t talk about people personally, you don’t get into this ugliness; he just didn’t do it right.”
In his phone message to voters, Smith said that Collins was not a “machine hack,” a term he stated Goldman used in referring to Collins during the campaign. Goldman denied this.
“I can categorically state that no one in my campaign ever called her a ‘machine hack,'” Goldman said.
Smith offered little when asked about the relevance of and the logic for mentioning Goldman’s residence and his claim that Goldman wanted to “take over” East Garfield Park and West Garfield Park.
“You can’t win if you don’t take over the area,” Smith said. “I got a right to say that he wanted to take over the area.”
“I got in [the election race] to address the issues facing the state,” Goldman countered. “I referenced some of her voting records and started calling out issues that I didn’t agree with.”
On Jan. 27, Goldman filed a complaint against Collins with the Illinois State Board of Elections. In his complaint, he accused the state representative of misspending up to $63,000 in contributions from her Friends of Annazette Collins campaign committee. The complaint states that Collins used the money “for personal expenses” and “in direct payments to herself.” The case is pending. Collins offered no comment regarding the matter.
In addition, the complaint also addresses Collins’ alleged failure to comply with a 2008 settlement between Friends of Annazette Collins and the non-partisan group Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
Collins settled with the group after it was discovered that she had failed to accurately report three years’ worth of campaign contributions. According to Goldman, Collins has not yet addressed the issue nor has she provided a public apology, which was part of the settlement. Collins was also supposed to pay the State Board of Elections $20,000, which she claims she did.
“We paid the election board back, and we’ve hired a new accountant because the old one wasn’t doing it right,” Collins said.
And she maintained that the public apology was made, although an extensive search yielded no evidence to support that statement.
“I’m not trying to pursue these points out of any type of vendetta,” Goldman said. “I called Representative Collins to congratulate her on her victory. [Now] I’m in Springfield and I’m working on legislation regarding the governance of the Cook County Forest Preserve.”