CALUMET CITY | A candidate for alderman in the Feb. 26 Democratic primary spent Friday morning defending her nominating petitions and the way they were notarized.
Dr. Imani Akin, running in the fourth ward against candidates aligned with Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush and mayoral hopeful Brian Wilson, is being challenged by Qualkinbush supporters on the grounds that the notarization that makes her petitions official documents was not done properly.
Joe Cainkar, an attorney representing the interests of Qualkinbush supporters, argued to the city's Electoral Board that such attention to detail is important.
Akin, “has to qualify to get a spot on the ballot,” said Cainkar. “You have to follow the law to get on the ballot.”
But attorney Marti Willenson said that Akin’s nominating petitions were in “substantive compliance” with the information that state election law says needs to be included on a nominating petition. “Substantive compliance does not mean 100 percent, A-plus perfect,” she said on Akin’s behalf.
She also rejected a claim by Qualkinbush backers that Akin’s petitions were flawed because they also identified the state legislative district she lives in besides the ward she wishes to represent.
“Superfluous information is not a basis for disqualification,” Willenson said.
Cainkar responded, “There is a basis for confusion, and that does justify removal from the ballot.”
The Electoral Board also heard arguments over the notary public who certifies a nominating petition. Willenson had affidavits she wanted included as evidence that would say Akin knew her notary for at least 20 years.
But Cainkar objected to the affidavits being considered, saying he considered them “irrelevant” because the words “who is to me personally known …” were not in Akin’s nominating petitions
“It’s absolutely irrelevant if the notary is known if that line is not in the document,” Cainkar said.
The Electoral Board did not rule on Akin’s fate. Her hearing was continued to Jan. 11, at which time Calumet City corporation counsel Dennis Gianopolus said the board likely will rule on her case, along with two other candidates whose arguments they have already heard.
The issue of flawed notarization of nominating petitions has been used by the Electoral Board to justify removing many other candidates seeking to run in the Feb. 26 elections, and setting up the possibility that Qualkinbush and her slate of allies will run unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Cainkar reminded the Electoral Board of that fact in telling them they ultimately should rule to remove Akin from the ballot. “You have a duty to rule consistently with other cases,” he told the board.
In another matter, the Electoral Board approved two orders that officially dismiss the ballot challenges that allies of Wilson had filed against Qualkinbush and city Clerk Nyota Figgs – ensuring that both will be on the primary election ballot.