CALUMET CITY | Chicago may have a reputation for electoral hijinks, but an attorney for a candidate who was removed Friday from the primary election ballot said Calumet City’s electoral system makes Chicago look good by comparison.
“I've done my legal work on elections in Chicago, which has its reputation,” said Marni Willenson, an attorney for Imani Akin, who wanted to run for a post on the City Council. “But what's happening in Calumet City is worse.”
The Electoral Board said Akin's nominating petitions were not notarized in accordance with the law, even though Willenson said she submitted several exhibits showing that Akin's petitions were in compliance.
By removing Akin along with mayoral hopeful Victor Green and alderman candidate Hope Allen, the ballot for the Feb. 26 Democratic primary now consists solely of Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush, City Clerk Nyota Figgs, City Treasurer Gerald Tarka and the incumbent aldermen. No candidates are running for office in a Republican primary in Calumet City.
Willenson said she thinks that goes completely contrary to the spirit of election law.
“Fundamentally, what the law says is to put the candidates on the ballot and let the people decide who they want,” she said.
Qualkinbush was not available on Friday to comment.
Willenson plans to file an appeal in the Cook County Circuit Court on Akin’s behalf once she receives a written order from the Electoral Board, which she expects to happen early next week.
Also formally removed from the ballot on Friday were Green and Allen, who were running as a pair against the slates of Qualkinbush and mayoral hopeful Brian Wilson. The Electoral Board ruled Green's and Allen's nominating petitions were not properly notarized.
Wilson's slate-mates were previously removed from the ballot for the same reason, and their appeals are pending in Cook County court before County Division Presiding Judge Edmund Ponce de Leòn.
Allen was a personal secretary to Qualkinbush and worked on the mayor’s 2009 re-election campaign until Allen's city job was cut several years ago in a budget-cutting move. Allen said Friday’s decision to remove her from the ballot was not a surprise.
“They're removing everybody,” she said. “We're going to have to fight (in court) to get back on the ballot.”
Green and Allen are being represented by attorney Adam Lasker, who also may take on Akin’s case when it goes to the Cook County courts, although Akin had not made a decision on that matter as of Friday.
Although the primary ballot is clear for now, Calumet City’s Electoral Board is not yet finished.
The board is scheduled to convene again Monday at City Hall to consider the challenge to Wilson’s mayoral campaign. He withdrew from the Feb. 26 primary and submitted new nominating petitions to run as a political independent in the April 9 municipal elections.
But supporters of Qualkinbush and Green both filed their own challenges to those petitions, which City Attorney Burt Odelson said will be considered starting next week. Wilson was not available Friday to comment.