Labor Day parade becomes political

2012-09-02T23:16:00Z 2012-09-03T23:34:03Z Labor Day parade becomes politicalGreg Tejeda Times Correspondent
September 02, 2012 11:16 pm  • 

CALUMET CITY | We’re still two months away from this year’s presidential elections, yet city officials are now unofficially campaigning for municipal offices in the 2013 election cycle.

Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush rode near the head of the annual Labor Day parade held Monday on a float promoting her “Democrats United” slate of candidates for municipal government posts – one that incorporated in its design the logo of the Obama for America campaign, if not the actual name of President Barack Obama.

“Who knows? I guess so,” Qualkinbush replied, when asked if her float was the beginning of campaigning for next year’s elections – a Democratic primary on Feb. 26 and a general election on April 9.

Her float contained a sign naming every single candidate aligned with her on the slate, which includes city Treasurer Gerald Tarka, city Clerk Nyota Figgs, and all incumbent aldermen minus 4th Ward Alderman Brian Wilson.

Wilson, who has said he plans to challenge Qualkinbush for mayor, was nowhere to be seen on Monday at the Labor Day parade – sponsored by the city and the Calumet Memorial Park District. It is the largest Labor Day celebration in the south suburbs.

Insofar as Qualkinbush’s “Democrats United” slate, she has no preference as of yet for a 4th Ward alderman. The only candidate expressing interest is Cook County sheriff’s deputy Ramonde Williams – who has said he is aligning himself with Wilson’s mayoral campaign.

One alderman, Antoine Collins of the 7th Ward, insisted on having his own float in the parade, although his float featured winners of a citywide essay contest.

“I’m giving the kids some recognition,” Collins said.

Another alderman, Magdalena “Leni” Wosczynski of the 2nd Ward, could be seen marching in the parade, wearing a bright red shirt with her name spelled out in large white letters.

Despite the political overtones of the mayor’s Labor Day parade float, Qualkinbush tried to emphasize other aspects of the event.

“This is about people coming out and having fun. It is a staple of the community,” Qualkinbush said.

Police Chief Edward L. Gilmore rode in the parade on a motor bike, with David Hill, an 11-year-old who suffers from hydrocephalus that has left him nearly blind, sitting in back.

Also in the parade was Miss Illinois Megan Ervin who will represent the state Jan. 12 in the Miss America pageant to be held in Paradise, Nev.

For Ervin, a native of downstate Rushville, Monday was her first visit to Calumet City, as she is making rounds of public appearances in her current role. The Labor Day parade was her 13th parade, and she said her time has been busy since her June 30 coronation.

“I think I’ve had five days at home since this happened,” she said.

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