Former Mayoral Candidate Watkins Gets Key Support For State Senate

Former mayoral candidate Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, who finished fifth in last February’s primary, may turn out to be the only one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s opponents with a political future.

After state Sen. Rickey Hendon retired, Watkins unsuccessfully applied for an appointment to his state senate, which went to state Rep. Annazette Collins. Then she applied to be Collins’s replacement. That appointment went to Derrick Smith, a former aide to Secretary of State Jesse White, the most influential committeeman in the district.

Undeterred, Watkins entered this year’s primary for the senate seat. This time, she has the support of Jesse White, who is upset over allegations that Collins does not actually live in her West Side district.

On her petitions, Collins listed a voting address of 2159 W. Warren Blvd. But the Austin Weekly News is reporting that records at the Cook County Assessor’s Office show that Collins took a homeowner’s exemption for a condo at 6127 S. Woodlawn Ave., in Hyde Park.

According to the newspaper:

“I’m not happy with my current senator,” White said. “It is obvious she does not live in the district.”

Van Pelt-Watkins has asked Senate President John Cullerton to investigate Collins’ over her residency issues. Those issues did not surface during the state senate selection process last March, but was discovered in a foreclosure proceeding by the condo association last spring. What's more, Van Pelt-Watkins also vied to replace Hendon before losing out to Collins last year.

Collins, White noted, admitted in court that she lived at the Woodlawn address.     He adds that Collins took an FHA loan in 2008-in order to receive the loan, the property must be owner-occupied.

The condo went into foreclosure two years later, according public records website CheckIllinois. White added this is not the first piece of property of Collins’to go into foreclosure. A house in the 2000 block of North Honore Street is also up for foreclosure.

“I’ve known her for years,” White said, “and if I had known then what I know now, I would not have supported her for that position.”

Watkins, a high-school dropout and former steelworker who overcame a drug problem to earn a Ph.D. and head a community organization, was the target of Carol Moseley Braun’s “strung out on crack” remark during a debate at Trinity United Church of Christ. A political newcomer, Watkins had never held office before running for mayor. As a politician who visited town Wednesday can attest, the state senate is a more realistic place to start.

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