CALUMET CITY | The election season spilled over into the City Council meeting Thursday, with aldermen and Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush criticizing each other — mostly in response to recent activities related to the municipal elections coming up in February and April.
Qualkinbush insists that mayoral opponent Brian Wilson is distorting her compensation, which he said earlier this week has a value of $180,000 annually in salary and benefits.
While an aldermanic candidate who used to be Qualkinbush’s secretary said she’d like to see an investigation of incumbent city officials to see if they’re guilty of the same things that Wilson is accused of. Wilson allegedly failed to pay real estate transfer taxes and did not repay city payments when he missed City Council meetings, according to an objectioner's petition filed with the Electoral Board and obtained by The Times.
“Brian Wilson is not in charge of the payments made to him, or the distribution of tax stamps,” said Hope Allen, who is challenging 6th Ward Alderman Nick Manousopoulos for his City Council seat.
“It would be interesting to see if the other aldermen have done the same things that Wilson is supposed to have done,” Allen said.
Qualkinbush said she’d like some sort of review done of the matter.
“We will do an investigation and put it into form to see if we do have a problem here,” she said, although she did not say when such an investigation would be done or what form it would take.
Qualkinbush used her mayoral report during the City Council session to criticize Wilson for the comments he made on Wednesday when he announced he would run for mayor as a political independent in the April 9 general election, rather than challenge her directly in the Feb. 26 Democratic primary.
Wilson, in a prepared statement, cited an $180,000 figure that he says is her salary and the value of her benefits and other job perks.
Yet Qualkinbush says it is false, and it ignores the fact that in recent years she has accepted some reductions in the benefits and perks provided to the mayor. She also says those changes were approved by the City Council, including Wilson in his role as alderman.
“He knows this, yet he insists on making misleading statements,” says Qualkinbush. “A lot of mistruths are being spoken because it is the election season.”
Wilson, currently the 4th Ward alderman, seems to think he’s the target of much of this criticism. On Thursday he expressed his dismay with the Electoral Board when it announced last week he was withdrawing from the primary. The allegations against him were made part of the public record and likely would have been used to remove him from the ballot by force.
“Why was it even read into the record,” Wilson said. “It had no purpose since I withdrew.”
Third Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones, who was the Electoral Board member who insisted on the allegations being made public, retorted, “It’s because you didn’t pay your taxes.”