A drawn-out objections process in the 28th Ward aldermanic race came to a close last week, with two more candidates emerging victorious and cementing their place on the Feb. 22 ballot.
That brings the total number of candidates vying for the four-year term on the Chicago City Council to four, including: Carmelita Earls, commander of operations for the Chicago Fire Department’s Training Academy; William Siegmund, a bar manager and former aldermanic candidate; and Michael Stinson, pastor of the First General Assembly Church in Englewood.
Jason Ervin, the former village manager of Maywood and longtime aide to former Ald. Ed Smith, is also on the ballot. Ervin was appointment alderman of the 28th Ward last week to serve out the remainder of Smith’s term.
Officials at the Chicago Board of Elections overruled objections late last Tuesday against Earls and Stinson, whose attempts to get on the ballot had been held up by appeals. The objector against both candidates – Eileen Jackson, a staffer for former Ald. Ed Smith – argued, among other claims, that both candidates were ineligible for office because they owed money to the city of Chicago.
The most severe of the objections against Earls focused on an alleged tax debt to the Cook County Assessor’s office. Earls said she failed to remove her “home exemption status” from her home when she moved four years ago.
“It was an oversight, and they presented it as I was trying to defraud the city,” Earls said, adding that they were “28 frivolous charges. Just a bunch of nonsense to keep me off the campaign trail.”
Elections officials overturned the tax claim, finding that a debt to the county shouldn’t keep a candidate from running in a city election. The most effective objection against Stinson claimed that he owed more than $600 in parking tickets to the city. But election officials overturned that claim as well, finding that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the parking tickets belonged to Stinson.
Elsewhere in Austin, eight candidates have been approved for the ballot in the 29th Ward race, including incumbent Deborah Graham. Six candidates are running in the 37th Ward, including longtime Ald. Emma Mitts.
Candidates must receive 51 percent of the vote on Feb. 22 to avoid going into a run-off election April 5.
‘I took him in, and I saw how bright he was’
Ervin, who’s been village manager of Maywood for three years, will serve at least until mid-May, or longer, if he wins either next month or the April 5 run-off.
Ed Smith, who had served in the council since 1983, endorsed Erwin for the election shortly after he resigned the seat Nov. 30. The 36-year-old Erwin had served as a volunteer aide to the former alderman for 14 years.
“(Ervin) came to me 14 years ago…I took him in, and I saw how bright he was,” Smith told AustinTalks in November. “He’s become a superb adviser, and he’s done it all as a volunteer.”
Ervin’s campaign staff did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment but did issue a statement stating: “I will empower and energize all of our residents…Let us move the 28th Ward to the next level.”
News reports quoted Daley as saying he was not endorsing Ervin, or two additional appointments named at the afternoon press conference, for the election. “They will present themselves to all the people of their respective wards,” the mayor told the Chicago Tribune.
Daley typically takes an incumbent alderman’s recommendation when making such appointments, former alderman and Chicago political expert Dick Simpson has said-and entering the race as a sitting alderman gives Ervin an important advantage.
“They can now say they’re ‘Alderman Jones,'” Simpson said. “That makes it a better starting for a campaign.”
Six candidates applied for the temporary 28th Ward aldermanic spot: Kathy Adams, Carmelita P. Earls, Jason C. Ervin, Carol G. Johnson, William Siegmund and Michael A. (Mike) Stinson.
Of those, Ervin will face competitors Earls, Siegmund and Stinson on the Feb. 22 ballot for a full four-year term. Adams did not seek a spot on the full-term ballot, and Johnson was removed during the objections process.
Siegmund, 43, said he was unsurprised by the appointment. Siegmund added that he had one 10-minute interview with Daley in the mayor’s office, during which he was asked questions about his qualifications and plans for the ward.
“It is what it is,” he said.
A representative of the mayor’s press office declined to answer questions about the appointment. The mayor’s press office has ignored AustinTalks’ repeated requests for information about the interview process and failed to notify West Side community media about the press conference.