Newly elected Harvey Ald. Lamont Brown admits on his website that he’s a twice convicted felon — and court records confirm it.
Turns out, that might be a problem.
One of his constituents has filed documents in Cook County court saying the felony convictions mean Brown hasno business serving on the south suburban community’s city council.
Harvey resident W c Wofford says in documents filed in the county’s chancery division that Brown’s felony convictions disqualifying him from municipal office under state law.
Now, city officials say, they’re about to deal with the costly fallout from Brown’s 1994 convictions for handling a stolen car.
Sean Howard, a city of Harvey spokesman, said the city shouldn’t be saddled with the cost of defending the suit — because the cash-strapped city has no power to decide who is or isn’t a legitimate candidate for office.
“We have to respond to the lawsuit,” Howard said Friday. “We have to outsource lawyers for that, and that’s unfair.”
In addition, Howard said, the city has learned that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office learned about Brown’s felony history prior to his swearing in.
Howard said the city wants State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office to take action.
“They city of Harvey is asking for the state’s attorney to make some type of decision —right away so that the taxpayers can be relieved of this burden.”
Brown declined to talk about the court filings, saying he’d not had a chance to look at them. He also refused to talk about his past. But on his website he writes that while at Thornton High Schoolhe “began to give in to the pressures of street life” and “found himself in handcuffs over 20 times.”
He adds that he was a “convicted felon twice” but writes that he turned his life around and hopes to “become an example of hope to many.”
Reached by phone, Wofford said he only does interviews in person.
“He is a resident of the city of Harvey, who is concerned that there is an elected official . . . of the Fourth Ward who had two prior felony convictions,” said Wofford’s attorney, Jason Guisinger.
According to the Cook County Clerk’s office, candidates fill out questionnaires to run for office which ask whether they are “legally qualified” to run but not if they have been convicted of a crime. Those are filed with individual municipalities, not with the clerk’s office.
Both citizens and political opponents can object to a candidacy when someone runs for government. And if elected, both citizens and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office can file a quo warranto petition, which enables a public integrity unit to investigate the claims, according to the clerk’s office.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office confirmed it is reviewing the documents.
“We are actively reviewing this matter and we will not have any further comment until the investigation is complete,” State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said in a statement.