Ballot objections reveal inequity

Opinion: Columns

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Jim Schwartz

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Oak Park resident Kevin Peppard has filed objections against the candidacies of Anthony Clark and Chibuike Enyia for Oak Park Village Trustee in the April 6 municipal election. Over the years, Mr. Peppard has filed numerous objections against various candidates for village offices. 

However, in examining these current objections, we cannot understand them simply by comparing them to his past objections, or simply asking what Peppard's motivation is. What we must ask now is how Mr. Peppard's objections function in this moment.

We have just passed through 2020, the year of twin pandemics — racial and viral — that entwine with one another through higher levels of impact and mortality inflicted on Black communities and other communities of color. 

In this moment, the objections of a white man to the only two Black men running for village trustee have a particular negative resonance. And as we delve deeper, we can see more problematic aspects to the charges Peppard is leveling. He is trying to get one Black man thrown off the ballot for alleged drug charges from over a decade ago, and another thrown off for residency issues stemming from his ownership of property in another municipality. 

Because of cultural conditions in this country, Black men are more likely to have faced drug charges than white men who took the same actions. Because of these conditions, white men have been allowed to amass generational wealth that Black men have not, so therefore residency may not show up the same for every group. 

We live in a country divided by race, so when we apply supposedly color-blind criteria like residency or criminal status, these criteria affect different racial groups differently. That is the issue at play in this case — the average Black resident of Oak Park is more likely to be affected by these issues than the average white resident. 

An electoral board consisting of the village president, the most senior village trustee, and the village clerk will hear these objections at a hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 6. It is the role of this board to decide whether the candidates can stay on the ballot. I do not know what facts will come out in these cases, and I cannot speak to how these officials will decide them. However, I will say that if Clark and Enyia are removed from the ballot, the village of Oak Park and the upcoming municipal election will be poorer for it. And we will have yet another example of how our laws and legal processes have disproportionately negative impacts on Black male residents of this village, this state, and this nation. 

Jim Schwartz is an Oak Park resident, an educator, and a blogger at Entwining.org.

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Bert Fischer  

Posted: January 9th, 2021 9:54 PM

Oak Park, When you finish the latest Ibrahim Kendi book I highly recommend reading Anthony Clark's bankruptcy filing. He has amassed over $226,000 in student debt to cover the expense of the highly prestigious Masters of Arts in criminology from the Ivy adjacent University of Phoenix among other equally useless degrees. The degrees may have got him a near six figure salary at OPRF but that apparently isn't enough to launch him out of his parent's house at the age of 37 or is it? He had filed multiple homeowner exemptions in the town of Lombard which you can only do if you live in the home you own. But according to him that was for a woman who might have been the mother of his child but not him???! He has $100 worth of clothing according to his bankruptcy filing and virtually no assets, yet he is purchasing homes for people who aren't the mother of his child but could have been while he sleeps on a couch with $226,000 in student loans with no intention to pay them?? Oak Park, I know cognitive dissonance has been the flavor of the year but you are being scammed. There is no way around it. The objective truth is Anthony Clark is a liar. Did he lie when he filed his bankruptcy and homeowner's exemption to receive tax benefits or did he lie when he filed the election papers? It really isn't that important. What should be important to all is the truth. Unfortunately in Oak Park people like Jim Schwartz are just interested in what team you are on. Anthony Clark is as far left as it goes, and for some people that is enough to abandon truth or hide it with allegations of racism. Abandoning truth is a small price to pay for the good of the collective for them. Oak Park should only celebrate when citizens try to expose the truth like Peppard has. I'd like to be on team truth. If any of the white or any other skin hue candidates lied about their address or are felons we need to get them off ballot. Nothing is stopping anyone from doing that. This is democracy.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 7:02 PM

William Dwyer Jr. illustrates the validity to meet the Village's qualifications. I think the case may now have become tainted because a fool threw a brick with a hateful message including the word ballot on it just hours before the Village was to preside over the objection

Monica Sheehan  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 6:00 PM

Jim Schwartz promotes the same false narrative that the two candidates and their supporters have repeatedly messaged on social media, inserting race in to the story as an apparent strategy to distract from the actual issue. Neither objection is racist, and Schwartz plays loose with the facts. The objections center solely on whether the two candidates are eligible under law to hold office. One objection deals with residency, as one must be a resident of Oak Park to serve as a trustee. The other objection deals with a possible felony conviction, as the Illinois Constitution prohibits anyone with a felony conviction from holding office. Disingenuously, Schwartz underscores that the two candidates facing objections are the only Black men running for trustee, while failing to mention that there are other Black candidates on the ballot. The filed objections can be accessed on the village website, link copied below. https://oak-park.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=830306&GUID=847B15CC-2221-446A-871B-4BD4D75968A7&Options=info|&Search=

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 5:56 PM

Mark, my point is not whether Clark lived with his elderly parents. My elderly father lived in my house for 3 years before I sold it. Good on Mr. Clark for that, I say. My issue was, first, that Clark filed for bankruptcy just before filing to be a village trustee. And second, and most legally dangerous for Clark, he was asked three times, and in two distinctly different ways on his bankruptcy filing, where do you live. One of his false statement could perhaps be forgiven as a mistake, a typo, a misunderstanding. The first one, however, was a specific and detailed answer to the simple question "where do you live." It wasn't a yes or no question. He answered that he lived at an address that he subsequently told the Journal he had never lived at. He has no way out of that corner. Vote for him if you want. That's your right. Me? I have no doubt he's utterly disqualified himself.

Mark Geraci from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 5:38 PM

I just don't consider it an odd situation for an adult to live with and take care of aging parents.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 5:37 PM

I agree William. Bring out the race card BS. Typical Jim Schwartz Orwellian word play. Total nonsense. What is it Mr. Schwartz that you don't understand when Mr. Clark is asked (under penalty of law) where do you live, he answers Lombard? D'oh!

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 5:16 PM

Mark, you can live all sorts of ways, but I do not want, as a leader in our community, a guy who has an odd living situation. Or a bankrupt. It's not the expertise or experience we need for the job of running our town's finances. Not someone who we go to for advice. Sorry, but lots of people are better qualified for the job than this one and it is way better to know his odd background before we vote.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 3:43 PM

This is just nonsense. On the 2nd page of Clark's bankruptcy filing, he's asked, "where do you live?" And the answer he gave was to enter his full Lombard, IL address. Get real. He's either lying on the bankruptcy filing, or on his nominating petitions.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 3:38 PM

Mr Schwartz conveniently ignores the documented fact that Clark, under penalty of perjury, stated in that bankruptcy filing that he lived at the Lombard address. Read the bankruptcy filing, and knock off the race card b.s.

Jane Lardner Lambshead  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 3:11 PM

Thank you, Jim; I could not have said it better myself!

Mark Geraci from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 3:10 PM

There are other ways that I and other adults may live. We may share an apartment/condo/house in which only 1 persons is named on a lease or mortgage. Or, we may live with aging/sick/minor relatives who require financial/physical/emotional assistance without having our name on a lease or mortgage. I have been in both situations as have countless others. Neither of these situations is listed in your litmus test for residency requirements for access to inclusion on a ballot but must be considered on the spectrum of normative living situations.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 12:16 PM

If you rent an apartment, you have a lease. If you own a home you have a mortgage and tax docs. It is how adults live in this world. It is a bare minimum sort of requirement to ask to have a Trustee actually live here before giving that person control of the budgets and taxes here. Or to get a library card.

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