AUSTIN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Incumbents, Challengers Scramble to Stay on Ballot
Austin Chamber of Commerce issued the following announcement on Dec. 21.
Two West Side aldermen are facing objections to their nominating petitions while one West Side alderman could once again run unopposed despite entering the race months earlier with a half-dozen challengers.
Aldermen Michael Scott Jr. (24th) and Chris Taliaferro (29th) were both facing objections from challengers last week. As of Dec. 20, the status of Scott's challenges were unknown while Taliaferro's attorney indicated that two challenges filed against his client were likely to be thrown out and he was optimistic that a third challenge would also be tossed.
In the 29th Ward race, Taliaferro and all three of his opponents — Zerlina Smith, Dwayne Truss and Gayinga Washington — face legal challenges. Truss, like Taliaferro, faces multiple objections to his petitions. Yolanda Hoskins objected both the nominating papers of both Truss and Taliaferro.
Truss also faced an objection filed by Samuel Lewing while Taliaferro fought off challenges by Verlestel Branch and Anthony Harris. Bruce Washington, the president of Taliferro's 29th Ward Democratic Organization, objected to petitions filed by Zerlina and Washington.
The hearings for all three objections against Taliaferro were held on the morning of Dec. 17. Attorney Pericles Abbasi, who represents both Taliaferro and Washington, said that he moved to dismiss Branch's and Harris' objections on the ground that they don't live in the district.
Meanwhile, with Hoskins' challenge, the hearing officer agreed to a document check. Abbasi said that he was optimistic that it wouldn't make a difference. He estimated that, out of about 1,900 signatures Hoskins challenged, only 101 will be invalidated.
"I'm very confident that Ald. Taliaferro [will remain on the ballot]." he said.
As of Dec. 20, the final decisions on Branch and Harris' objections are pending, with the date of the decision "pending." On Hoskins' objection, the record examination and next hearing dates haven't been set.
All of Scott's challengers, including Creative Scott, Toriano Sanzone, Edward Ward, Larry Nelson, Patricia Marshall and Traci "Treasure" Johnson, faced signature challenges. Inglesa Toney is objecting to the petition signatures of all challengers, while Sanzone is objecting to Scott's petitions.
Austin Weekly News has been unable to reach either Scott's office or Sanzone's campaign office before this issue's deadline. The hearing on Sanzone's objection was held on Dec. 18. A follow-up hearing date had not been set by this publication's deadline.
In 37th Ward race, three challengers are facing off against incumbent Emma Mitts. They include Tara Stamps, who faced off against her in 2015, as well as Deondre Rutues and Otis Percy Jr. All three opponents had their signatures challenged by the same person – George McKinley, who is listed as 37th Ward Republican Committeeman on the official website of the Cook County Republican Party.
According to Illinois State Board of Elections records, he contributed $200 on June 1, 2012 to the New 37th Ward Democratic Organization, which shares its mailing address with Mitts' ward office. He received a $700 loan from the same organization, which he repaid in Dec. 29, 2014.
A hearing on the objection to Stamps' petitions was held on Dec. 19. A follow-up hearing was scheduled for Dec. 22. The hearing for the objection against Rutues was scheduled for Dec. 21, while hearing officer Christopher Cohen was set to make a final decision on the objection to Percy's petitions at some future date.
In 2015, the 28th Ward race saw all of the challengers against incumbent Ald. Jason Ervin kicked off the ballot. All five candidates challenging him this time around — Justina Winfrey, Miguel Bautista, Jasmine Jackson, Beverly Miles and Theresa Rayford — faced objections from Gina Zuccaro and Emma Jean Robinson.
Robinson also objected to the challengers' petitions in 2015, while Zuccaro is objecting to some of the candidates running for city treasurer — the office Melissa Conyears-Ervin, Illinois state representative and Ervin's wife, is running for.
DNAinfo Chicago reported at the time that that Robinson served as the chief of staff for former Ald. Ed Smith (28th) and was "paid $11,000 in 2011 as a consultant and to provide meals to Ervin's campaign."
According to the Chicago Board of Elections, Winfrey dropped her candidacy.
Hearing for objections against Miles, Boutista and Jackson were scheduled for Dec. 27 at 10:00 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., respectively. The election board is scheduled to make a final decision on objections against Rayford at some future date.
Original source can be found here.