By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
The hotly contested and controversial race for mayor in south suburban Dolton went down to the wire and still might not be over. Incumbent Riley Rogers defeated challengers Stanley Brown and Duane Muhammad by garnering 48.1% of the vote. Rogers defeated Brown by only 295 votes and the election could be challenged by Brown, the Crusader learned at press time.
With just over 23,000 residents, Dolton—once a middle-class Black community—has seen its share of troubles over the past decade as the population has changed. Just about all of the white residents have moved out along with upper middle-class African Americans who once called the town home. Dolton has seen an increase in violent crime and faced severe financial difficulties. The police department’s patrols are supplemented by Cook County Sheriff deputies.
Last January, Rogers survived an effort to have a recall referendum placed on the ballot by his political challengers. For years, three village trustees have been opposing Rogers and he says they have stopped at nothing to try to get him out.
Last week, derogatory campaign fliers were distributed by someone in Dolton about Rogers’ opponent. He said he knew nothing about the flyers and believed his challengers may have created the flyers to try to defile his campaign.
“From the very beginning, we’ve ran our campaign the way we started, a professional campaign,” Rogers said after Tuesday night’s win. “I think the people have confidence in me, and they could see through all of the political shenanigans.”
Brown’s campaign admitted to printing the mayor’s personal cell phone number on one political flyer which urged residents to call the mayor to oppose a strip club Brown’s campaign believed was coming to Dolton. Rogers said the strip club plan was never in the works and accused Brown of just “making up stuff.”
The third candidate in the race, Muhammad, said the flyer controversy turned off residents and was most likely the reason for voter apathy. He said people in Dolton are struggling and in need of real political leadership. Muhammad went on to say that all of the political infighting between the mayor and the trustees is not making things any better for residents or the village’s image.
“While the two of them brawl it out, our residents suffer from a crisis in foreclosures, crisis-to-crisis management and the finances of our village not improving over the last four years,” Muhammad said.
Brown could not be reached for comment on this story although messages were left on his cell phone.