Update: Candidate Sigcho will be on the ballot. While Sigcho admitted to living outside of the Whittier School District, and thus serving illegally on its local school council, the hearing officer gave the candidate the benefit of the doubt while citing the difficulty of proving a negative; i.e. proving that Sigcho doesn’t live in the ward. For some dry, but entertaining reading, the ruling can be found here.
Four years ago I ran for alderman. My signatures were challenged. The process of getting on the ballot was so ridiculous that it joined gerrymandering and campaign finance reform as part of my proposed reforms to Chicago politics. Due to some bad advice about petition formatting I had to withdraw. But it was a good experience, even the petition challenge. Given some of the other challenges I was facing at the time withdrawing was definitely the right move for me personally.
Team Sigcho, being the kind-hearted people they are, offered me support.
Ha! Just kidding. I have had a terrible relationship with Team Sigcho and the leadership of Pilsen Alliance. They offered nothing but mockery of my campaign’s withdrawal and continue to lie about our past interactions. Other organizations and campaigns in the neighborhood, many of whom I respect, have gotten their fair share of chismoso/gossip/whisper campaigns, lies, mockery, and spin as well.
That’s why it was particularly gratifying when looking at the list of petition challenges [pdf]. Not only was my name not on there (i.e. I will be on the ballot!), but it warmed my heart to see Byron Sigcho-Lopez’s (aka Byron Sigcho) name listed. Twice!
The first challenge [pdf] was filed by Hector Villagrana, former Chief of Staff to former Alderman Billy Ocasio and current State of Illinois legislative liason. I assume this comes on behalf of the Acevedo campaign given the Machine connection between Hector and Alex Acevedo’s father (Eddie Acevedo). Basically, Hector’s challenge uses the Illinois law that was put in place to curb the practice of judges who change their names to sound more Irish to get elected.
… since the 1980s, voters have been electing judges in Cook County with Irish names who aren’t really Irish…
This election Byron hyphenated his last name to (presumably) include his mother’s maiden name. Curiously the name change would seem to decrease whatever name recognition he’s built up in the neighborhood. Regardless, the law requires that he change his name 3 years prior to the election or that he declare on his petitions that he’s changed it. He, apparently, did neither. Not a good position to be in. That alone could get him bounced.
But that’s not the worst of it for Team Sigcho(-Lopez). The second challenge [pdf] was filed by Raul Hernandez (no relation). I’m guessing this challenge comes from the Hilario Dominguez campaign given they are the other campaign with the experience and resources usually required to mount a petition challenge.
For example, I submitted paperwork to get copies of all of the other candidates' petitions (in the event that they did something silly like messing up their address) and was completely ignored by the Board of Elections (BoE). I work full-time and didn’t have time to go down there again. It’s like the time two months ago when I submitted paperwork to get the ward’s voter file and the BoE “lost it”. You’ve gotta love Chicago politics!
This challenge questions the name change issue, but also adds a question of his residency.
The candidate falsely claims a residence address of 1813 South Carpenter St., Chicago, IL which is located within the 25th Ward, but he does not reside there now and has not resided there for at least one year prior to the date of the election, and has never resided at the address.
What a blunder! I thought that couldn’t be true. So I looked up the voter rolls and sure enough, Byron is registered to vote at 1813 S. Carpenter. But that’s not the issue. From the Chicago Board of Elections Index of Electoral Board Decisions[pdf], pg 20 (25 in the pdf):
The statutory requirements in Sections 10-4 and 10-5 of the Code were perfectly clear that the candidate had a duty to print his place of residence…
The laws about being a registered voter are a bit complicated, but it’s pretty clear you have to live where you say you live.
I know that Byron lost his local school council (LSC) election at Juarez High School in 2016, because I got involved with LSC politics as one of my last activities with Pilsen Alliance. (This report on the election amazingly contains an apparent admission of voter fraud by Team Sigcho staff/supporter Javier Ruiz.)[
That same election cycle they ran two candidates against me because I had worked hard to remove the terrible principal at Pilsen Academy. Our LSC’s success made them look bad. I won anyway. In short, I know way too much about LSC politics.
So I wondered if Byron ran again in April of 2018. He did. He ran and won the second community representative seat earning 5 votes for Whittier’s LSC!
Here’s the thing though, to run for LSC Community Representative, you have to live in the school’s boundary. For those unaware, 1813 S Carpenter (the red scribble) is not in the school’s boundary (blue).
I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought to myself, “Perhaps he ran and won at Whittier and then moved to Carpenter.” Out of curiosity, I ran over to Whittier today and got the minutes of the LSC from the office. He’s still on the LSC.
So it looks like Raul’s lawyer may be correct in his assertion. Byron hasn’t lived at 1813 S Carpenter at least since April, when he ran for Whittier’s LSC seat. It’s either that or he is serving on the LSC at Whittier under false pretenses. I’m no lawyer, but it looks like he’s in trouble.
While I feel bad for many of his volunteers' apparently wasted time, I can’t say I feel bad for him. His history of lying about and denigrating anyone and almost everyone in Pilsen politics makes this entertaining. This isn’t an upstart who didn’t have the enormous resources required to get signatures. This isn’t someone who had a typo that got them bounced. This is his address! How do you mess that up?
Byron’s hearings are scheduled for 1030 and 11AM, tomorrow, December 13th at 69 West Washington Street, Chicago.
Edit: The previous version of this post attributed the second petition challenge to The Resurrection Project co-founder Raul Hernandez. I have been informed that this is not the same Raul Hernandez that filed the petition challenge.