CALUMET CITY | Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush won the top spot Tuesday on the Feb. 26 Democratic primary ballot, presuming her campaign survives a legal challenge to try to remove it from the ballot altogether.
Qualkinbush’s bid for re-election is one of 17 campaigns for municipal office challenged on grounds that nominating petitions are flawed.
Most of the individuals seeking spots in city government in the 2013 municipal elections were at City Hall during the noon hour on Tuesday, where attorney Dennis Gianopolus oversaw a lottery that determined the order in which candidates’ names will appear on the primary election ballot.
For mayor, it will be Qualkinbush, followed by Brian Wilson, then Victor Green. Mark Amen, a mayoral aspirant who filed his petitions too late to qualify for the lottery, will appear fourth.
For city clerk, it will be incumbent Nyota Figgs, followed by Rita Cortez, a candidate aligned with the mayoral bid of Wilson.
City Treasurer Gerald Tarka will be first for that office, followed by Wilson ally Anthony Smith.
The lottery came one day after the deadline for filing challenges to nominating petitions, and many of the candidates on Tuesday were just as concerned with who is challenging their campaigns as they were with ballot spots.
Figgs said all of the challenges came just before the 5 p.m. Monday deadline, and her staff was still processing the paperwork. Gianopolus said candidates would be formally informed later this week, and would be told then when hearings would be held by the city’s Electoral Board to hear oral arguments.
That Electoral Board consists of Qualkinbush, Figgs and the longest serving City Council member, Alderman Magdalena “Leni” Wosczynski. However, in cases where candidates for mayor or clerk are argued, the affected official will recuse herself and Thaddeus Jones, the next senior member of the City Council, will step in.
Wilson said his supporters filed challenges to the campaigns of Qualkinbush and Green for mayor, and Figgs for city clerk. Wilson on Tuesday could not specify what was wrong with their petitions, but said his attorneys found flaws they will argue warrants their removal from the ballot.
All of the other challenges were filed by supporters of Qualkinbush against every candidate who is either not an incumbent or not on the mayor's Democrats United slate.
Qualkinbush was one of the few city officials not present for the Tuesday lottery, and she was unavailable to comment.
But Wilson said the massive total of challenges to try to clear the ballot for Qualkinbush and her slate did not surprise him.
“Some people think they can stop democracy from coming to Calumet City,” he said, adding he is confident he can keep his ballot position. “The voters will not stand for this any longer.”