Chicago

Willie Wilson ‘won’t go there’ on Trump

Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson referred to as on the Illinois General Assembly Friday to enhance town’s voter entry, notably for Black and Latino residents, after what he stated was dismal turnout of their communities throughout this month’s common election.

Wilson, a businessman who has just lately been recognized for his free gasoline and grocery giveaways, stated the Nov. 8 election left him involved {that a} current change in polling areas led to primarily South and West aspect wards seeing the bottom voter turnout. He stated he’ll ship a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and different Springfield leaders demanding they cross laws permitting Chicagoans to vote at any polling location.

“This is not political for me right here,” Wilson stated in a information convention. He evoked his historical past of being the son of a sharecropper in Louisiana and stated, “Of course, down South in the Jim Crow days, we weren’t allowed to vote, and so this is personal to me. … We must keep it going because a lot of people died for people like me and others to have a right to vote.”

Ahead of the Nov. 8 election, Chicago election officers minimize voting precincts by almost 40% following a state legislation that raised the variety of voters allowed per precinct, as extra persons are casting their ballots early or through mail. That led to new polling locations for many Chicago voters, although the whole variety of areas wasn’t considerably diminished.

Wilson stated his push for opening up every polling location to all would alleviate a number of the boundaries hindering residents from voting. But he additionally acknowledged a earlier lawsuit he filed towards the Chicago Board of Elections to halt the brand new precincts had faltered, along with his legal professionals submitting a voluntary movement for dismissal earlier this month.

“That didn’t work out like we would have hoped for it to work out to be, but we did all we knew to do,” Wilson stated. “And so now is another page.”

A rich businessman who has contributed greater than $5 million to his marketing campaign fund, Wilson is making his third bid for Chicago mayor. In earlier runs, he’s performed nicely with older Black voters. After he lost within the first spherical of voting in 2019, Wilson backed now-Mayor Lori Lightfoot towards Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, serving to her soundly defeat Preckwinkle.

This time Wilson is amongst a big area of introduced candidates together with state Rep. Kambium “Kam” Buckner, group activist Ja’Mal Green, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Chicago aldermen Raymond Lopez, Roderick Sawyer and Sophia King. Candidate petition submitting begins Monday.

Chicago residents wait to vote early at South Side YMCA on Nov. 7, 2022 in Chicago.

In current weeks Wilson has sought to angle himself as a crusader for voting rights and entry, and his newest name entails pressuring Springfield to permit Chicagoans to vote at any polling web site earlier than the Feb. 28 native election ballots go out. Chicago City Council doesn’t have the authority to alter pointers surrounding polling web site rules, as they’re a part of the state election code.

Board of Elections spokesman Max Bever stated the physique is “not opposed” to a system the place Chicagoans would cast ballots at any polling web site, however it will probably imply the whole metropolis’s voting program would swap to touchscreens.

As for voter turnout on this month’s common election, all however one of many 10 lowest-turnout wards had been certainly on the South, Southwest and West sides, the place many of the metropolis’s Black and Latino communities reside. Those turnout percentages ranged from the mid-20s to low 30s, election information present.

But complete vote counts don’t finalize till Nov. 29, and there are nonetheless over 10,000 mail-in ballots to course of. The 2022 elections additionally noticed low voter turnout normally, with the citywide share touchdown at 44.3% this November and at 22.8% within the June 28 main election, which was organized below the earlier ward map’s precincts that Wilson sought to maintain.

In further, provisional ballots, which generally is a signal of what number of voters confirmed as much as the mistaken polling web site however nonetheless casted a poll, dropped from 9,759 within the 2018 common election to six,192 this year.

“It’s perhaps a little surprising that in a once-in-a-decade redistricting year we actually have less (provisional ballots) this time than the 2018 General Election,” Bever wrote, though he famous that may be on account of decrease 2022 turnout numbers normally.

Wilson’s requires elections reform comes the identical week Lightfoot’s marketing campaign attacked him for his earlier help of former Republican President Donald Trump, who introduced this week that he’s working for an additional time period in 2024. Wilson has stated he voted for Trump in 2016.

“As Donald Trump announced a 2024 campaign for president, Chicagoans are left wondering if Willie Wilson will be a strong supporter of Donald Trump once again,” Lightfoot marketing campaign spokesperson Christina Freundlich wrote in an announcement Thursday. “While Mayor Lightfoot has spent the last few years standing up to Donald Trump, Chicagoans deserve to know if Willie Wilson will continue his long record of supporting Trump and his campaign for the next two years.”

On Friday, Wilson responded to a question on the place he stood on the previous president — who’s deeply unpopular amongst Chicago voters — by dismissing it as unrelated to the municipal election.

“Let’s put it this way: I’m running for — when is the presidential election?” Wilson requested reporters, who answered “2024.” “I’m running for mayor of the city of Chicago. I will not allow myself to go in that area.”

Wilson additionally attacked Lightfoot’s document on crime and COVID-19 restrictions Friday: “Mayor Lightfoot is a joke. … She has failed the whole community. It’s a joke. How can you talk about the president situation when all the people dying?

“I won’t go there,” Wilson concluded. “You ask me do I love Mr. President Trump or you ask me do I love President Joe Biden? I love them all. And I’ll work to do whatever’s going to benefit for the people.”

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