CALUMET CITY | Mayoral hopeful Brian Wilson – who last week dropped out of the Feb. 26 Democratic primary – said Wednesday he still plans to seek the top municipal post as a political independent.
Wilson filed a new set of nominating petitions with the city clerk’s office to run independent of any political party in the April 9 general election.
The deadline was 5 p.m. Wednesday for any candidate seeking to run as an independent in April, and Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush confirmed Wilson met the deadline, although she said she had not yet looked at his new set of petitions.
Wilson, currently 4th Ward alderman, had filed petitions to run in the Democratic primary directly against Qualkinbush. But he withdrew those petitions Friday, just before the city’s Electoral Board was prepared to remove his campaign from the ballot.
An objector’s petition obtained by The Times and filed with the Electoral Board contends that Wilson is ineligible to run for office in next year’s elections. The petition states he did not disclose his former employment as a police dispatcher in Burnham on his ethics statements, did not refund payments he received for City Council meetings at which he was absent, and he failed to pay real estate transfer taxes for properties he owns on 164th Street and Paxton Avenue.
Qualkinbush said Wednesday that Wilson has since paid some money to city government, although she would not say how much money or what the payments were for. Wilson also did not elaborate on the payments.
Although a challenge still could be filed to Wilson’s new nominating petitions, he said Wednesday he thinks he will be on the April ballot to run against Qualkinbush.
Wilson also said it is important for there to be a challenger to Qualkinbush in the 2013 election cycle. In 2009, Qualkinbush only faced a write-in campaign challenge. He said that allowed the mayor to boost her salary and benefits, which will go into effect May 1, when the new term begins.
“That’s what happens when there’s no opposition on the ballot and that’s why I decided to run as an independent to avoid a costly legal fight for the Democratic Party nomination and to run as an independent alternative to ‘business as usual,'” Wilson said.
By running an independent campaign, Wilson bypasses the primary, which now is down to Qualkinbush and Victor Green, although supporters of the incumbent mayor are challenging Green’s ballot spot as well.
Qualkinbush said she thinks Wilson is adding to the city’s legal expenses with his new nominating petitions. “If he had done it right the first time, Brian would have got on the ballot and we wouldn’t be going through any of this,” she said.
Green questioned the legality of Wilson’s move, while adding he expects the February Democratic primary to be the significant election.
“My opinion is that I am the only viable candidate who can make a difference and represent the values of the people,” said Green, who has never held elective office but lost a bid for city treasurer in 2009.
Keith Speaks, head of the Hammond-based Neighborhoods Inc., a group that has received municipal contracts, said this year's election process with challenges to nominating petitions does not reflect well upon Calumet City.
“It’s very interesting the way the Electoral Board process plays out in Calumet City,” he said.