ALBANY PARK — Two candidates running to defeat Ald. Deb Mell in the 33rd Ward race have had their nominating petitions challenged, according to Chicago Board of Elections records.
Objections were filed against Annisa Wanat and Tyler Solorio. Another candidate running against Mell, Timothy Meegan, did not have signatures challenged but said he believes a family friend of Mell is behind the effort to knock Wanat and Solorio off the ballot, calling it "a shame."
The person challenging the signatures is listed as Samantha Lynn Rodkey. Rodkey could not be reached for comment but Meegan said, "My understanding is the young lady lives on Dick Mell's block and is a Mell family friend."
Richard Mell spent more than 35 years as alderman before retiring in 2013. Mayor Rahm Emanuel chose Deb Mell, Richard Mell's daughter, to fill the seat.
Deb Mell did not return calls seeking comment on the filings.
Though Wanat said she expected the objection — "There's always a ballot challenge" — she called the process, in her case, "frivolous" and "designed to waste time and money."
The electoral board will consider the objections at an initial hearing and the next step is a "binder check," during which each signature being challenged is reviewed one by one, according to Wanat. The deadline to remove a candidate from the ballot is Dec. 18.
Wanat is confident her petition will withstand the challenge, which objects to 900 of the signatures she collected, among them her own sister's.
"I collected over 1,300 signatures, 800 of them myself," she said. "We were only knocking on the doors of registered voters."
In 2007 and 2011 races, the percentage of candidates who were successfully kicked off the ballot was about 28 to 29 percent, according to AlderTrack figures.
"Illinois is one of the hardest states to get on a ballot," said Wanat.
Aldermanic hopefuls need to collect in excess of 400 signatures to file for candidacy, versus other states where mayoral candidates need only gather 25, she noted.
Wanat said she intends to fight for every name on her petition.
"These people gave me their signature — I want to make sure their voices are heard," she said. "I'm just going to keep going."
The election is Feb. 24.
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