Ja’Mal Green drops out of mayoral race

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Ja'Mal Green

Becomes second Black candidate whose name won’t be on the ballot

By Keith Chambers

Mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green ended 2018 by dropping out of the race, becoming the second Black candidate who will be removed from the ballot.

Green joins three mayoral candidates whose names have been removed from the ballot after they failed to meet requirements for submitting their petitions. They include another Black candidate, Conrein Hykes Clark, a grandmother from the Roseland neighborhood. There are now 17 candidates left in the mayoral race, which is February 26, 2019.

At a press conference in the Loop on Monday, December 31, Green said he decided to withdraw from the mayoral race because of a lack of funding and resources.

“Over the past few weeks, we have been dragged through a challenge process that I wouldn’t wish on any campaign. After collecting over the required number of signatures, the board of elections lost our petition sheets and claimed they accidentally gave me someone else’s,” Green said in a statement released Monday. “The board of elections hires Madigan’s helpers and many who are unequipped to make decisions that affect major races. They said my own mother’s signature was not her signature on my petition.”

Green also accused candidate Willie Wilson’s “dirty style of fighting,” saying his “desire to be a voice for the people was no match for Dr. Wilson’s dirty dollars.”

Wilson has been accused of “buying votes” after he gave thousands of dollars to residents at Black churches on the South and West Sides.

The Sun Times initially reported that Green withdrew his name from the ballot but planned on staying in the race as a write-in candidate. After the story, Green blasted the newspaper on Twitter, saying, “I think @Suntimes editors are ridiculous for creating a story out of no story. I haven’t made any comments, and anything written is speculation pending my press conference next week. Don’t write a story without my consent or comment.”

On Thursday, December 27, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners removed three mayoral candidates. In addition to Clark, they include Rich- ard Mayers and Sandra Mallory.

Election officials ruled that Clark and Mayers did not have the required 12,500 signatures to qualify for the race. They said Mallory’s petition sheets were submitted in several bundles and not the single, uniform package required by state election codes, the board said.

According to the latest Chicago Board of Elections list of filings, Mayers has withdrawn from the races of city clerk, treasurer and alderman from the 23rd Ward.

Throughout the holidays, the board has held objection hearings for mayoral and aldermanic candidates. A record 11 Black mayoral candidates were among the 21 candidates who filed to run, to replace outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel. With the high number of Black candidates in the race, there is concern that a split Black vote will lead to the election of a non-Black candidate. With the number of Black candidates dwindled to nine, those concerns remain strong.

Candidates are also falling in the aldermanic races. In the 3rd Ward, Lealan M. Jones was removed from the ballot after the board ruled that she filed an incorrect version of the Statement of Economic Interests. There are three challengers seeking to unseat incumbent Pat Dowell.

In the 7th Ward race, Flora “Flo” Digby and Clarence Davidson have withdrawn their names from the ballot, leaving four candidates challenging incumbent Gregory Mitchell.

In the 8th Ward race, incumbent Michelle Harris now has five challengers after Harold Bailey withdrew from the race.

In the 20th Ward race, candidate Matthew Johnson was removed from the list after the board ruled that he failed to file a receipt for Statement of Economic Interest.

But the biggest withdrawal thus far is Green, an activist who announced his candidacy April 18 during a speech at Roosevelt University. School officials cut his mic during the speech because they were unaware that he planned to announce his candidacy for mayor.

During his announcement, Green paid tribute to the late mayor Harold Washington, saying Chi- cago’s first Black mayor was ahead of his time in representing people of all backgrounds in Chicago. Green said he hopes to carry on that legacy.

During the mayoral and aldermanic elections, voters in the 5th, 12th, 20th, 23rd and 25th Wards will decide the fate of a referendum that would require aldermen to support a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) that would include a  30% set-aside of affordable housing and would implement a property tax freeze and provide funding for local jobs and affordable housing.

Activists in the 5th and 20th wards have been campaigning to get an CBA ordinance to protect residents from being displaced  in South Shore and Woodlawn neighborhoods once the Obama Presidential Center and Library is built.

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