GRAND BOULEVARD — The election season is kicking into high gear and things are already getting messy as three candidates vying to unseat Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) are facing efforts to boot them from the race.
Initial hearings on election petition challenges started Monday morning at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners headquarters, 69 W. Washington St. The first round of decisions about who is eligible to be on the Feb. 28 ballot could come as soon as next week.
Aldermanic candidates Don Davis, Jasmine Roberson and Al Rasho all are facing challenges filed by Robert L. Jackson and Laurence Olivier. Dowell is running for her fifth term after quitting her bid for Congress earlier this year.
In a brief phone call, Olivier confirmed he filed the petition challenges on behalf of the incumbent alderwoman but declined further comment. Jackson could not be reached for comment and Dowell did not respond to requests for comment.
In the objections, Jackson and Olivier contend Davis, Roberson and Rasho all have collected signatures from people who aren’t registered voters or are registered at the incorrect address, and included forged signatures and duplicate names, among other violations, according to the objection filings.
Because of that, none of the three challengers have the required 473 valid signatures to be on the ballot, the petition states.
If all three challenges are successful, that would leave Dowell running unopposed.
Political newcomer Davis said he doesn’t know Olivier or Jackson, but remains optimistic he’ll stay on the ballot.
A native South Sider, Davis moved to the South Loop two years ago. He supports the creation of public banks and economic development that would allow the 3rd Ward to stand on its own, he said.
Davis said he respects Dowell but it is time for “new blood.”
“Pat Dowell has been in office for over a decade now. It’s ok for someone new to come in. People are scared to talk about a ‘Black Agenda’ but there’s a great need for one because Black people always get the short end of the stick,” said Davis, a Morehouse College alumnus.
Fellow newcomer Rasho told Block Club he was never notified of Monday’s objection hearing and was unfamiliar with the two men who issued the challenge. Rasho said he collected the majority of signatures himself after getting a late start around Thanksgiving.
The Rogers Park native moved to the 3rd Ward over 15 years ago. He said he’s running to bring more economic and career opportunities to those who have been traditionally shut out. He also said he supports aldermanic term limits.
“We need to help get more people in trades and get more businesses in Bronzeville so that the money stays in the community,” Rasho said.
Roberson could not be reached for comment.
The 3rd Ward includes parts of Bronzeville, South Loop and Douglas.
Dowell is a former city planner who worked in the administrations of mayors Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer and Richard M. Daley. She was elected to City Council in 2007, beating then-Ald. Dorothy Tillman in a runoff.
Dowell easily won reelection in 2011 — beating out Tillman’s daughter Ebony Tillman — and in 2015 and 2019.
Dowell launched a months-long campaign for Illinois Secretary of State last year, but pivoted in January to become the first person to vie for Bobby Rush’s seat in Congress. Her Congressional bid netted major endorsements from SEIU Local 73 and a prominent group of local clergy during her congressional run.
Dowell was defeated by Jonathan Jackson in the Democratic primary, garnering 19 percent of the vote.
The Hyde Park Herald reported in August this run will be Dowell’s last, the self-described “mini-mayor” hoping to use her possible final term to focus on bringing more housing and retail to the 43rd Street corridor and incentivize affordable home ownership.
The election is Feb. 28. If no one candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will go to a runoff April 4.
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