Six candidates challenged in 29th Ward race

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One woman has filed objections against six people running to be the 29th Ward alderman.

Marjorie Fields, who could not be reached for comment, filed objections last week against 29th Ward hopefuls Oddis Johnson, Lisa Jackson, Maurice Robinson, Stephen Robinson, Brenda Smith and Zerlina Smith.

She also filed against Deborah Williams, who has since dropped out of the race. Williams could not be reached to discuss why she decided to end her campaign.

The contested candidates are among six others who plan to run in the Feb. 24 municipal election; they are Lawrence Andolino, Bob Galhotra, current Ald. Deborah Graham, Chris Taliaferro and La Coulton J. Walls.

A total 173 objections were filed against candidates running in all 50 wards throughout the city.

Complaints question the legitimacy of petition papers candidates had to submit to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners last month to declare their intention to run. Petitions must have at least 473 signatures — with home addresses – from ward residents.

Fields’ six complaints are carbon copies of each other.

All allege that each person’s petition papers have signatures that are fraudulent and duplicated. Other objections: the addresses of some of those who signed the petitions were inaccurate or incomplete, or were not within the ward, or the person who signed is not a registered voter.

And she alleges the petitions don’t have enough names to meet the minimum requirement after problematic signatures are removed.

Only about a dozen signatures on Zerlina Smith’s papers passed Fields’ attorney’s test during a preliminary hearing held Tuesday, Dec. 9, Smith told AustinTalks.

“They challenged every signature,” Zerlina Smith said.

Smith said she was aware of 193 signatures with bad addresses from the roughly 1,900 she collected. Those were cleared, and she was left with more than enough to turn in.

But now, she’ll have to continue disputing the complaint against her.

“We plan to fight it as long as we have to to get me on this ballot,” ZerlinaSmith said.

Smith doesn’t know Fields, but Maurice J. Robinson said he does. He said she lives a few houses down from him and was invited into her home as he collected signatures. She was one of the 2,000 people to sign his petition, he said.

“She was in the middle of cooking food – cornbread, the whole nine,” Robinson said of his visit. “She started asking about my platform. She was very enthusiastic.”

He said he got “a good reception” from her and got a hug from her when he saw her later.

Maurice Robinson, whose hearing was postponed to Dec. 15, said his signatures are valid and that he personally collected 1,000.

“That’s how childish this whole process is,” Robinson said. “I understand that it’s part of the game, but you’re playing a game with people’s lives.”

Smith said she thinks Fields is trying to throw hurdles in the way of the candidates who don’t have endorsements or a lot of money.

Stephen Robinson, Brenda Smith, Lisa Jackson and Oddis Johnson could not be reached to respond on their objections.

Candidates who don’t face objections will also be scrutinized. The board that makes decisions on the objection hearings will also review all petition filings to make sure the paperwork follows basic rules, including having the minimum number of signatures and paginated sheets.

Decisions on the objections will be made between January and February.

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