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Petition challenges: Where 11 mayoral hopefuls stand in fight to stay on ballot

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, left, meets with the Sun-Times Editorial Board in October. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times; Susana Mendoza, right, files ballot petitions on Nov. 26. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, left, meets with the Sun-Times Editorial Board in October. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times; Susana Mendoza, right, files ballot petitions on Nov. 26. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times.

Hearings for the 11 mayoral candidates who face petition challenges started last week and will continue this week, the first step in potentially winnowing down the field of 21 hopefuls vying for a spot on the ballot in the Feb. 26 election.

The challenge against Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza came before hearing officer Barbara Goodman at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners on Friday. Lawyers for Mendoza believe she’ll survive the challenge brought against her by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

The hearing officer dismissed one of Preckwinkle’s objections that alleged a pattern of fraud on Mendoza’s petitions. But the hearing officer agreed to let the challenge proceed based on several other factors questioning her signatures.

Tony Jacob, the Mendoza campaign’s election lawyer, said Mendoza should still have at least 15,000 valid signatures despite the challenge.

“The objectors have been very exaggerated in the way in which they’ve described Ms. Mendoza’s petitions,” Jacob said. “She has more than enough signatures to be on the ballot, and I think that’ll play out.”

Preckwinkle campaign attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer stressed the importance of following election rules and ensuring “the integrity of the process is preserved.”

“People can spin this however they want to spin this,” Krafthefer said. “We’re not targeting any particular classification of candidates other than those who didn’t file sufficient nomination papers. There are rules to follow. Candidates want to run for mayor, they’re going to have to follow rules while they hold those office.”

On Sunday, Preckwinkle’s camp withdrew challenges related to missing and duplicate petition pages along with the “first to sign petition” issue, which brought into question signatures that appeared on petition sheets of multiple candidates and whose sheets were signed first.

Mendoza’s not the only one fighting to keep her spot on the ballot. Here’s a look at all 11 candidates facing petition challenges.

Susana Mendoza

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza pictured at the Chicago Sun-Times office on Oct. 3. | RIch Hein/Sun-Times

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza pictured at the Chicago Sun-Times office on Oct. 3. | RIch Hein/Sun-Times

Objection: Preckwinkle’s objection claims Mendoza got signatures from non-registered voters, non-Chicago residents and people who signed other candidates’ petitions. The objection also says Mendoza filed duplicate petition sheets, duplicate signatures and forgeries.

Next hearing: Thursday at 2 p.m.

Lori Lightfoot

Lori Lightfoot, former president of the Chicago Police Board in the Sun-Times newsroom May 8, 2018. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Lori Lightfoot. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Objection: Preckwinkle also challenged Lightfoot, the former president of the Chicago Police Board. Among Preckwinkle’s objections, she says Lightfoot’s signatures included unregistered voters, non-Chicago residents, incomplete addresses, forgeries and people who signed more than once. Some circulators’ sheets demonstrate a “pattern of fraud,” according to the objection, which also claims Lightfoot didn’t meet the 12,500 signature requirement.

Next hearing: Monday at 11:30 a.m.

Dorothy Brown

Dorothy Brown in the Sun-Times newsroom Friday, Nov. 2, 2018. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Dorothy Brown. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Objection: A federal probe of her Cook County Clerk’s office didn’t stop her from jumping into the race for mayor, but two petition challenges — one from Preckwinkle, one from Wilson — may stifle Brown’s mayoral run. Her opponents say some of Brown’s signatures came from unregistered voters, some were forged and some signed for other candidates.

Next hearing: Wednesday at noon and 1 p.m.

Garry McCarthy

Garry McCarthy, who declared his candidacy for mayor on Wednesday, sat for an interview the next day with longtime City Hall reporter Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun-Times. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Garry McCarthy. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Objection: An objection filed by a South Side woman named Jerry L. Jackson claims Chicago’s ex-top cop objections turned in signatures from non-registered voters and non-Chicago residents. She also says the signatures of some of McCarthy’s petitions circulators are forged.

Next hearing: Monday at 1 p.m.

La Shawn Ford

Mayoral Candidate LaShawn Ford speaks to community members and the media at a mayoral candidate forum at Greater St. John Bible Church, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

La Shawn Ford speaks at a West Side mayoral candidates forum. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Objection: Ford is one of many candidates challenged by Willie Wilson, who claims the state representative’s signatures include non-registered voters, non-Chicago residents and forgeries. He also claims the circulators listed on many of Ford’s petitions weren’t the ones actually collecting signatures.

Next hearing: Friday at noon.

Ja’Mal Green

Ja'Mal Green

Mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Objection: Wilson lobbed another objection against Green. Like Washington, Green is accused of having petition sheets that contain forged signatures, multiple signatures from the same person, as well as signatures from non-registered voters and non-Chicago residents. The objection also says Green has fewer than 12,500 valid signatures.

Next hearing: Monday at 2 p.m.

Neal Sales-Griffin

Neal Sales Griffin in 2012. File Photo. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

Objection: Wilson’s objection claims Sales-Griffin’s petitions include forged signatures, non-registered voters and invalid or incomplete addresses.

Next hearing: Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Roger Washington

Mayoral Candidate Roger Washington speaks to community members and the media at a mayoral candidate forum at Greater St. John Bible Church, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Roger Washington. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Objection: Wilson’s objections against Washington include allegations of forged signatures and signees with invalid or incomplete addresses. Wilson says Washington didn’t hit the 12,5000-signature requirement and that he collected signatures from people not registered to vote at their given addresses.

Next hearing: Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

Conrein Hykes Clark

Objection: Clark faces two objections. Both say Clark fell short of the minimum number of valid signatures, the sheets in her six-page filing weren’t numbered consecutively, the papers weren’t bound and that Clark didn’t file a statement of economic interest, a receipt for statement of economic interests candidate or a statement of candidacy.

Next hearing: Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Jim Allen said Clark could be removed from the ballot at a Thursday board meeting.

Catherine Brown D’Tycoon

Objection: D’Tycoon faces three objections to her nominating papers, including claims that she didn’t hit the 12,500-signature threshold, that her petitions weren’t bound properly, that some of the sheets were photocopied and that D’Tycoon filed her statement of economic interest with the secretary of state instead of the Cook County clerk.

Next hearing: Monday at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., and Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

Richard Mayers

Objection: A Southwest Side man named Richard L. Barnett claims Mayers’ nominating papers didn’t include a receipt for filing his statement of economic interests, and that his petitions sheets and statement of candidacy aren’t legally sufficient.

Next hearing: Thursday at 3 p.m.

MORE CHICAGO ELECTION COVERAGE:

• Preckwinkle’s petition pounce: Challenges Mendoza, four other women
• Signature accomplishments: A mix of strategy and superstition in petition filing
• A game of 21: Mendoza, Brown join crowded mayoral field — now who will fold?