Circulators who are not residents of the 47th Ward and sometimes not even citizens of Chicago, are playing a big role in determining who will represent the ward.
An examination of petitions to be listed on the ballot in the 47th Ward indicates one candidate would not be allowed on the ballot if circulators were required to reside in the constituency they are circulating for. Another candidate used substantial labor from outside the ward, leaving questions about who the candidate is beholden to.
Five candidates submitted petitions to be listed on the ballot for 47th Ward alderman in the 2011 municipal elections. Of those, three petitions were challenged.
For the most part, the challenges claim that there are not enough valid signatures on the petitions for the candidates to meet the requirements set forth in election code. According to the Chicago Board of Elections a candidate must have 185 valid signatures to be listed on the 2011 municipal ballot.
One candidate, it was discovered, had an unpaid red-light fine due to the city. Candidates with unpaid fines are not allowed access to the ballot. (The fine and loss of ballot access is currently being argued).
Two candidates have no objections and will be listed on the ballot: Ameya Pawar and Incumbent Ald. Eugene Schulter (D-North Center).
Tom O’Donnell, an aide to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and President of the Ravenswood Community Council is among the three candidates whose petitions are being considered by the Chicago Board of Elections.
O’Donnell’s petition is being singled out as there is a protest regarding O’Donnell circulating petitions for his opponent, Eugene Schulter. However, O’Donnell’s petitions do not prove the same level of broad community support as other candidates from within the Ravenswood community.
O’Donnell’s petition was carried by a number of people who live outside the district: Plainfield, IL for example. Should people with no skin in the game, who live in Plainfield, for example, be able to nominate and circulate petitions for a candidate in from North Center in Chicago?
Before you say no, the name of the circulators is important: Brenda and Edward O’Donnell. Apparently relatives of O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s circulators include Brenda, Edward, Lilly and Mary Beth O’Donnell. Tom O’Donnell, apparently called on his relatives to help circulate petitions. They collected 92 signatures, 15 of which were collected by Lilly who lives in the ward.
Richard Muxfeldt of the North Center neighborhood gathered 45 additional signatures for O’Donnell. Meaning just 60 signatures were collected by ward residents for O’Donnell’s candidacy.
For O’Donnell, here is how it breaks down:
- 185 signatures needed to run in the 47th Ward
- 60 signatures collected by residents of the 47th Ward
- 146 signatures collected by residents of other municipalities * excluding likely relatives
- Relatives collected 92 signatures
- 15 were collected by a ward resident (and are included among the 60 listed above)
- 27 were collected by a Chicago resident and apparent relative of O’Donnell who lived outside Ward 47
- 50 were collected by apparent relatives who are not residents of Chicago
- 380 signatures were collected by other Chicago residents who reside outside the 47th Ward
- 678 total signatures collected
O’Donnell is not alone in the use of persons outside his district. But alone among 47th Ward aldermanic candidates, O’Donnell would not have met the minimum signature requirement to be listed on the ballot without the use of circulators from outside the ward. Even with what appears to be four relatives assisting his effort, O’Donnell fell short of the minimum level of support required, except for his use of outside circulators.
Schulter gathered more signatures using just residents of the ward than all other candidates combined. However, more than half the signatures submitted were circulated by Chicago citizens living outside the 47th Ward.
- 22 ward residents gathered 883 signatures
- The following circulators, all residents of the ward, gathered an additional 1,008 total signatures
- Scott Anamizu 224
- James West 180
- Joseph Gibbons 148
- Catherine Romo 141
- Ray Helm 105
- William Helm 105
- Kevin O’Connell 105
- Monica Schulter gathered 99 signatures. Monica Schulter is a resident of the ward
- Opponent Tom O’Donnell gathered 62 signatures. O’Donnell is a resident of the ward. O’Donnell submits his own petition to join the ballot
- Three circulators who were not citizens of Chicago gathered 104 signatures
- Thirteen circulators from outside the ward gathered 1,953 signatures. They are
- Donna, John and Steve Bilski 345
- Patrick King Kane 284
- Martin Casey 225
- James Damato 179
- Patrick Bordes 149
- Peter Katsoulis 142
- George Goltsos 135
- Michael Teutonico 131
- Rosemary McDonnell 128
- Dan Luna 127
- Joseph Parisi 108
- 29 other circulators from outside the ward also worked for the campaign, gathering 1,532 signatures
- Total signatures 5,641
- Jacks circulated his own petitions. He gathered 312 signatures
- A Northbrook resident helped Jacks. He gathered 107 signatures
- A Chicago resident living outside the 47th Ward was the final circulator for Jacks, that woman gathered 17 signatures
- Total 436 signatures
- Matt Reichel circulated his own petitions. He gathered 80 signatures
- One 47th Ward resident joined Reichel circulating petitions. 260 signatures
- Reichel’s mother helped, gathering 30 signatures. Carol Reichel is a Chicago resident but not a resident of the 47th Ward
- Three other persons, all Chicago residents assisted. They gathered 119 additional signatures
- 489 total signatures
- Ameya Pawar circulated his own petitions. He gathered 296 signatures
- Two other 47th Ward residents joined Pawar. They gathered 48 signatures
- Chicago residents from outside the ward numbered 12, gathering 335 signatures
- Two circulators were from outside the city. They gathered 19 signatures
- 698 total signatures