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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Burnett Challenger Gets To Stay On The Ballot, Election Board Rules, Making It A 2-Way Race In 27th Ward

Despite objections to her petitions, Cynthia Bednarz will be on the 27th Ward ballot. Burnett vowed to appeal the decision.

Cynthia Bednarz, left, will face off against Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (right) for the 27th ward seat.
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WEST LOOP — Despite objections to her petitions, aldermanic candidate Cynthia Bednarz will be on the 27th Ward ballot next month — a move that means powerful Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. will face a contested race.

The Chicago Board of Elections decided that Bednarz’s name should appear on the 27th Ward ballot Friday, officially making it a two-way race.

In December, two objectors filed a challenge against Bednarz’s petitions — Jerrell Reid and the veteran alderman’s wife, Darlena Burnett. The challenge disputed the validity of the signatures Bednarz submitted.

After the Board of Elections ruled Friday, Bednarz, a realtor, said 27th Ward voters want “a new voice” at City Hall. In a press release, she called on the alderman to participate in three public debates before the election.

“Voters need to know the stark public policy and governance differences between Walter Burnett and myself,” she said.

Although the Board of Elections ruled in Bednarz’s favor, Burnett vowed to appeal the decision in court in the next six days.

“It’s not over yet as far as I’m concerned,” Burnett told Block Club. “We run every day because every day we are doing our job. My work speaks for itself.”

Burnett, who has represented the ward for more than two decades and is a key ally to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said last month that objections are par for the course.

“Generally, any time we have challengers we petition them, and for the most part we knock them off,” Burnett said.

After an opponent secures a spot on a ballot, Burnett said it costs him more than $200,000 to run for re-election. 

RELATED: Every Candidate In This West Side Race Might Get Knocked Off The Ballot (Once Again) — Except The Sitting Alderman

“It costs a lot of money to run for office and no one wants to spend money if we don’t have to,” he said. “If we can knock her off, and spend money on lawyers…we would rather do that than to spend the money to run for office.”

But Bednarz, an East Garfield Park resident, called the move a “corrupt effort” designed to “waste our campaign’s money on lawyers and deny 27th Ward voters their right to an open election.”

In 2015, candidate Gabe Beukinga also fought and ultimately won a lengthy challenge filed by Burnett’s team. The decision was issued just two weeks before the election.

Burnett, who lives on the Near West Side, was overwhelmingly re-elected as 27th Ward alderman in 2015, sealing his sixth term.

He was first elected to the seat in 1995.

The diverse 27th Ward includes parts of the West Loop, Greektown, Garfield Park, the Near North Side, Old Town, West Humboldt Park, West Town, the Medical District and Goose Island neighborhoods.

The election is Feb. 26.

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