With his Nov. 30 resignation date approaching, Ald. Ed Smith (28th) has endorsed a candidate to replace him in February’s election: Jason C. Ervin, a longtime Smith supporter and adviser who recently stepped down from his day job as village manager of Maywood, according to news reports.
Smith announced last week that he would resign from his 28th Ward alderman’s seat, a post he’s held since 1983. He gave little explanation at the time as to why he was not staying through the end of his term.
“I’m not sick. I’m not indicted … I just decided it was time for me to go,” Smith told AustinTalks Tuesday. He added that he wants to put his energy toward campaigning for his picks for 28th Ward alderman and mayor – Ervin and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.
But if Smith’s opinion sways appointment-maker Mayor Richard Daley – and some believe it will – Smith’s pick for the Feb. 22 election could wind up getting a boost on Election Day.
Technically, Daley appoints the person to finish Smith’s term, said Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Chicago alderman, but historically, that decision has really been made by the outgoing alderman.
“The mayor usually selects the person the alderman recommends. That’s the standard way Mayor Daley does it,” Simpson said. “I think the timing (of Smith’s resignation) probably has to do with trying to be able to ensure his successor.”
This could present a challenge for the other nine people who met the Nov. 22 filing deadline to run for the 28th Ward seat. That’s because whoever Daley appoints will likely have a tremendous advantage with voters a few months from now.
“They can now say they’re ‘Alderman Jones,’” Simpson said. “That makes it a better starting for a campaign.”
Ald. Smith stopped short Tuesday of saying he would ask Daley to appoint Ervin – “That’s the mayor’s call,” he said – but the alderman called Ervin “a very talented young man” and added, “I’m definitely going to support him for the election.”
“(Ervin) came to me 14 years ago … I took him in, and I saw how bright he was,” Smith said. “He’s become a superb adviser, and he’s done it all as a volunteer.” He confirmed that Ervin plans to resign as Maywood’s village manager “once he becomes alderman.”
The nine other candidates who filed petitions for the 28th Ward seat are: Carol G. Johnson, a program director at Bethel New Life; William Siegmund; Michael A. Stinson; David J. Young; James Ogden; Chicago Police Department veteran Erick Von Kondrat; Velda Brunner; Shawn A. Walker, who ran against Ald. Smith in 2007 and 2003; and Carmelita P. Earls, commander of operations for the Chicago Fire Department’s Training Academy.
Nov. 30 is the deadline for objections to be filed about a candidate’s nomination papers.
Smith is one of eight aldermen out of the 50-member Chicago City Council not running for re-election. This, coupled with a vacant mayor’s post, has led to a big jump in the number of candidates filing for February’s election, said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
Four years ago, 256 people filed for the 53 offices; this year, 380 filed – a 48 percent increase.