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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Bennett Lawson Will Likely Succeed Ald. Tom Tunney In 44th Ward After Challenger Knocked Off Ballot

Lawson is now unopposed in the race to replace powerful Ald. Tunney, who is retiring. Nathan Bean, who was booted from the ballot, is suing to reverse the ruling.

Bennett Lawson (left) was endorsed by Ald. Tom Tunney to replace him as 44th Ward alderman.
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LAKEVIEW — A former candidate for 44th Ward alderman who was knocked off the ballot due to a technicality is suing to reverse the election board’s ruling.

Nathan Bean was the sole challenger to Bennett Lawson, outgoing Ald. Tom Tunney’s chief of staff, who is running to replace him as 44th Ward alderman. Lawson is now running unopposed. But Bean hopes the lawsuit will lead to him being re-added to the ballot.

Bean, a 30-year-old Lakeview resident, filed the lawsuit Wednesday, alleging he was not served paperwork in a timely fashion when a petition was filed challenging his candidacy.

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ruled Friday that Bean did not file the proper Statement of Economic Interests form and therefore was not a valid candidate. The challenge to Bean’s candidacy was brought on by Charles Schutt, a neighbor and precinct captain of Tunney.

Bean said he did turn in his Statement of Economic Interests, but not its receipt. He said Schutt’s petition challenging his candidacy wasn’t served to him until Dec. 23 — days after the final hearing in his case Dec. 20 and weeks after Schutt filed the petition Dec. 5.

“They don’t have any evidence that I didn’t do what I had to do and, furthermore, they did not do the proper rules and procedures under the Illinois Statute to give me the documents with enough time to ensure I’d be able to prepare for these hearings,” Bean told Block Club.

When reached by phone, Schutt referred Block Club to his lawyer, Michael Kasper, who did not immediately return a request for comment.

Bean grew up in Virginia, where he attended Virginia Commonwealth University for a couple semesters until he was diagnosed with Lyme disease, he said. Bean moved to Chicago eight years ago after coming out as queer and looking for a new sense of community, he said.

Bean has worked as an assistant store manager for Starbucks, in sales and now as a certified paralegal with the American Bar Association, according to his campaign website. He’s also a senior at DePaul University studying political science.

Bean was compelled to run for office after volunteering for former 44th Ward alderman candidate Austin Baidas in 2019 and realizing his passion for talking to neighbors about issues and discussing creative solutions, he said.

Issues important to Bean’s campaign include crime, climate change and housing affordability, he said.

“I think if we can come together as a community, we can fight for things like access to better education and affordable housing in Lakeview,” Bean said. “I started my campaign because I know that local issues like sidewalks being broken, roads needing to be fixed, education benefits and affordable housing aren’t Democrat or Republican issues — they’re people issues and we need to make sure the voices of the people can be heard.”

Credit: Twitter
Bennett Lawson, chief of staff for outgoing Ald. Tom Tunney, (left) is now running unopposed in the 44th Ward alderman race after challenger Nathan Bean (right) was knocked off the ballot.

Lawson, who lives in Lakeview with his husband, has served as Tunney’s chief of staff since 2007 and previously worked as the ward’s director of community outreach.

Before joining Tunney’s office, Lawson worked as Sen. Carol Ronen’s district director, where he was responsible for constituent services, according to his campaign website. He’s also the “proud son of a teacher” and attended public schools.

Throughout Lawson’s tenure in the 44th Ward, he has helped with projects like the Center on Halsted’s construction, the redevelopment of the old Town Hall Police Station into an LGBTQ senior living facility and the construction of Howard Brown Health’s health clinic.

Lawson also helped with the Whole Foods and Mariano’s developments and pushed to increase affordable housing within Lakeview, according to his campaign website. He’s also worked closely with the local police district on crime prevention strategies.

Lawson, who grew up in northern Illinois and moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University, has also said he’s passionate about LGBTQ outreach, HIV/AIDS services and prevention and helping nonprofits obtain funding.

“My campaign team and I are working hard to talk with voters and residents of our community, and I will utilize the Feb. 28 election to engage with local residents so they can continue learning about me and my commitment to our community,” Lawson said in an emailed statement. “Keeping strong constituent services in the 44th Ward is a priority for me, and I am working closely with Ald. Tom Tunney to ensure a smooth transition.”

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