Two more political hopefuls have been kicked off the ballot in the 28th Ward alderman’s race, after a staffer for former Ald. Ed Smith objected to the candidates’ petitions.
The Chicago Board of Elections said Dec. 29 that community organizer Carol G. Johnson is ineligible for the Feb. 22 race because her petition paperwork for the non-partisan election was printed with the word “Democrat.” According to Johnson, the error was an oversight, the result of using the incorrect online form as a template.
“It was basically a mistake,” she said, “something that was overlooked on my part and my team’s part, not having the resources to hire an attorney.”
And on Monday, the board found that Chicago Police Department veteran Erick Von Kondrat lacked enough valid signatures to make the ballot. A candidate in the 28th Ward needed 152. Behind these objections and others was Eileen Jackson, community service coordinator for Smith, who resigned from his now-vacant council seat Nov. 30. Jackson filed objections against eight of the 10 residents vying for that seat – all but Ald. Smith’s political protégé, Jason Ervin, who has been endorsed by the former alderman, and competitor William Siegmund.
Jackson declined to comment for this story, and Ervin and Siegmund did not respond to requests for an interview.
The objections process is an important and often-overlooked part of Chicago politics-one that has a tremendous impact on the outcome of an election, said Dick Simpson, a former 44th ward alderman who’s currently head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“It is very common in Chicago politics to try to eliminate competitors by getting them off the ballot on technicalities … and if it works, it means you’ve automatically won the election,” he said. “What the voter is looking at is the ballot. They probably haven’t paid much attention to the objections process.”
Along with a precinct bosses, candidates themselves may also file objections. At least two, Carmelita Earls and Shawn Walker, did so in the 28th Ward. The objections process may be politics as usual, but Johnson was troubled by how easily she, as a “common, everyday person,” was shut out of the process.
“It’s a machine strategy that discourages regular people from running. It’s a well thought-out strategy, and it works,” Johnson said, adding that she will continue to campaign as a write-in candidate.