Sawyer to stay on ballot after Wilson ally drops petition challenge

Former state Sen. Rickey Hendon withdrew his objection to Ald. Roderick Sawyer’s petition signatures at Willie Wilson’s request a day after a heated hearing at the election board offices.

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Willie Wilson adviser and former state Sen. Rickey Hendon sifts through documents during an election board hearing on his challenge to 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer’s campaign signatures Dec. 27, 2022.

Willie Wilson adviser and former state Sen. Rickey Hendon sifts through documents during an election board hearing Tuesday on his challenge to 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer’s mayoral nominating petitions.

Zack Miller/Sun-Times

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Willie Wilson adviser and former state Sen. Rickey Hendon on Wednesday filed to withdraw his challenge to 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer’s mayoral nominating petitions, according to Wilson campaign officials.

The withdrawal comes a day after a heated, three-hour hearing between Hendon and Sawyer’s legal team, led by Burt Odelson. Hearing officer Frank Tedesso stopped the proceeding several times as tensions rose, including once when Hendon, who said he had the flu, threatened to breathe on Odelson.

The Board of Elections is expected to formally accept the withdrawal on Friday, making it “safe to say” Sawyer’s name would be on the mayoral ballot, according to board spokesperson Max Bever.

Mayoral candidate Frederick Collins also will be removed from the ballot later this week for not having enough signatures during the same board meeting Friday, Bever said.

6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer sits behind his lawyer Burt Odelson during an election board hearing on a challenge to his campaign’s vote signatures Dec. 27, 2022.

6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer sits behind his lawyer Burt Odelson during an election board hearing Tuesday on a challenge to Sawyer’s mayoral nominating petitions.

Zack Miller/Sun-Times

In a statement Wednesday, Sawyer called the objection system “antiquated” and said he can now turn focus on the campaign.

“I am looking forward to having the time and resources to connect with Chicago voters,” Sawyer said. “[The challenge] ends today. It’s time to go to work.”

Former Cook County commissioner and current Wilson campaign manager Richard Boykin said Wilson asked Hendon to drop the challenge “in the spirit of unity and Christmas.”

Boykin maintained the challenges were Hendon’s actions alone.

Hendon said he decided to drop the objection against Sawyer after speaking with Wilson on Tuesday night.

“I didn’t want to drop [the objection to Sawyer], I didn’t want to drop [the challenge] against Ja’Mal Green, but sometimes you’re on a team, you look at things and you listen,” Hendon told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The former state senator said his attention is now on Wilson’s campaign and helping 15th Ward candidate Gloria Williams.

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