It doesn't appear that 28th Ward alderman Jason Ervin is running unopposed after all. Jasmine Jackson, one of seven challengers vying for Ervin's seat in the upcoming Feb. 24 election who were reportedly thrown off of the ballot earlier this year, says that she's not only running, but she's running to win and to be an example to others.
Although the candidate said that she's still tied up in appellate court over her attempts to get her name officially placed on the ballot, earlier this month she filed as a write-in candidate. She said her action is more than a display of "sour grapes."
"You aren't really given a fair chance when you're considering a run for alderman in the 28th Ward," she said during a recent interview with the Austin Weekly News.
"This typically happens—everyone is knocked off the ballot, everyone is challenged," she said. "Things like this are designed to keep you discouraged, suppress your gumption and your willingness to want to even participate in the democratic process."
"In Chicago politics, its common for incumbents to keep potential candidates in court in order to discourage them, keep you occupied to prevent you from campaigning and when you're back on the ballot, you don't have time to campaign—this is what I'm facing now," Jackson said.
Although a member of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Jackson said that she hasn't been officially endorsed by the organization.
When asked what specific problems she wants to address in her bid to replace Ervin, she focused on the inequitable state of economic development in the ward.
"I don't agree with [Ervin] neglecting the heart and soul of the 28th Ward," she said. "When you look at the East End, University Village—[those places are developed]. I know they've been redistricted, but you see black businesses there. The central part of Austin, where I live, has been neglected for three decades," Jackson noted.
"There are lots that are vacant that have been vacant for three decades. This area has not healed from the assassination of Dr. King. With the connections that have been made business-wise, you would think that this area, being in such close proximity to the Loop, would also be reflective of all the development going on around it."
Jackson said that her part of the ward shouldn't be designated blighted "when you have all of this economic possibility."
She also expressed displeasure with some of Ervin's personal actions, particularly with respect to reports of a video that surfaced in 2014 with footage of Ervin's 2012 bachelor party, which included strippers.
At the time, Ervin said that the footage of the private event was leaked in an alleged extortion attempt.
"I never used City or campaign funds for this event," he said in a statement in 2014. "This event was not held in my Aldermanic or political office, but on another floor of the building, where neither City nor political funds are spent."
"That was something that disgusted me as a woman," Jackson said. "To visualize a public official that is elected watching a woman gyrate for pleasure, when she could be somewhere else doing something more productive…"
Jackson, who said that she suspects the electoral process is rigged in favor of the deep-pocketed and well-connected, wants her opponents to know that she isn't bowing out. She said that, because her case is still ongoing, she'd rather not discuss its specifics; instead, opting to focus on a much simpler message.
"I'm still here," she said. "I am still a candidate."
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