CALUMET CITY | Fourth Ward Alderman Brian Wilson, who for more than a year talked about challenging Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush for her post, dropped out Friday from the Feb. 26 Democratic primary for mayor.
That left two mayoral candidates, down from four.
Wilson submitted a notice to the Calumet City electoral board, saying he would no longer be a candidate for mayor. The board was scheduled Friday to hear arguments from attorneys that Wilson should be removed from the ballot.
As of Friday, Victor Green remains as Qualkinbush's lone primary challenger. A challenge to Green's candidacy will be reviewed by the electoral board Dec. 28.
Wilson did not attend the electoral board hearing held at City Hall. Nor did his attorney, John Jawor, who attended the hearing, speak on his behalf.
Wilson declined to comment when contacted by The Times. But in a prepared statement, Wilson said he thinks it is wrong that Qualkinbush was willing to spend at least $40,000 in legal fees on an electoral board process to remove challengers from the ballot.
"It's unfortunate that Mayor Qualkinbush would rather spend ... on excessive taxpayer-funded attorney fees to remove her opposition from the ballot than just giving people a choice in a free and fair election process," the statement said.
Wilson was not the only mayoral candidate to leave the primary race. Mark Amen, a former city electrical inspector, was removed from the ballot by the electoral board.
His campaign had been challenged by backers of Qualkinbush who questioned the legitimacy of his nominating petitions.
But Amen did not attend an electoral board hearing last week to try to explain his petitions. Nor was he present for Friday’s hearing to explain his absence last week.
But most of the attention on Friday was paid to Wilson, as the electoral board dealt with the campaigns of all the candidates for alderman, city clerk and treasurer who were to run on a slate aligned with Wilson.
All of them were removed from the ballot by the electoral board, which concluded early on during Friday’s daylong hearing that flaws existed in the way the nominating petitions were certified by a notary public.
In Wilson’s case, the board was prepared to hear arguments on a four-page petition that contends Wilson committed three acts that make him ineligible to seek higher office at this time.
Those acts include filing flawed ethics statements, not returning payments made to him by city government for City Council meetings he did not attend in his role as an alderman and for nonpayment of real estate transfer taxes for properties on 164th Street and Paxton Avenue, according to a written document obtained by The Times.
The electoral board did not rule on the merits of any of those alleged acts, with City Attorney Burt Odelson saying they were “a moot point.” But 3rd Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones, who chaired the electoral board, made a point of having those acts read publicly into the record.
For her part, Qualkinbush had little to say. “I haven’t read the complaint. I really don’t know what it is he supposedly did,” she said.
Green said, “This is a long process, and I’m more concerned with what we’re doing, although this is unfortunate for” Wilson.