Mayor Rahm Emanuel is challenging the validity of thousands of opponent Willie Wilson's nominating petitions after the local businessman came up with 43,000 signatures in just five days.
Candidates need 12,500 valid signatures to qualify for a spot on the election ballot and Emanuel’s campaign says 35,000 of Wilson’s 43,000 signatures should be tossed out.
“The mayor is saying to the citizens of Chicago that signatures from the citizens are no good,” Wilson said in response to the challenge.
While Emanuel’s election lawyer Mike Kasper declined to comment, Wilson’s lawyers are talking. They claim Emanuel’s fight to throw Wilson off the ballot is racially motivated.
“They know a wealthy, successful African American man will put other candidates, Bob Fioretti, and Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia, into a run-off and that is something that Mayor Rahm Emanuel does not want to do,” Wilson’s attorney Frank Avila told NBC 5.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., who represents the city’s 27th Ward, supports Emanuel’s stance on Wilson’s petitions.
“It’s not about race, it’s about either you are capable and qualified to run for office or you’re not,” Burnett said. “And the qualifications to run for office are you have to have good signatures, you have to have good circulators and you have to get on the ballot.”
Dr. Willie Wilson was raised in Louisiana and dropped out of school in the 7th grade. He went on to find success as the owner of a multi-million dollar medical supply business. Wilson also produces a weekly-syndicated gospel TV show.