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Objection Aims to Bounce Beukinga from 27th Ward Ballot

By Stephanie Lulay | December 17, 2014 8:19am
 Gabe Beukinga is running against sitting Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr., in the 27th Ward.
Gabe Beukinga is running against sitting Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr., in the 27th Ward.
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DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay

NEAR WEST SIDE — An objection filed earlier this month against aldermanic candidate Gabe Beukinga aims to eliminate veteran Ald. Walter Burnett Jr.'s only competition in the 27th Ward race.

The objection challenging Beukinga's petitions, filed by East Garfield Park resident Vashon Briscoe and Garfield Park resident Priscilla Yates, argue that Beukinga's petitions contain forged signatures and were "roundtabled," alleging that the same people were signing the petition sheets multiple times.

A Dec. 9 objection hearing on Beukinga's petitions was continued until next week. The electoral board will consider the objection at 9 a.m. Dec. 24 at 69 W. Washington St. If the objection is successful, Beukinga would be kicked off the 27th Ward ballot, sealing Burnett's win for the next term.

Beukinga said his attorneys have requested to have the petitions examined at 1 p.m. Wednesday before next week's hearing. The 31-year-old candidate isn't worried, he said Tuesday.

"We know we have way more than we need," Beukinga said of his petition signatures.

Beukinga's lawyers previously attempted unsuccessfully to dismiss the case.

In the complaint, the objectors allege that Beukinga employed former Illinois State Senator Rickey Hendon, who is also a former 27th Ward alderman, to gather a team to circulate petitions. Campaign records show that Beukinga has paid Hendon $8,950 for consulting services.

Hendon, in turn, paid a number of circulators, including Wallace Davis Jr., a former 27th Ward alderman, according to the complaint. Those paid circulators had people who were not qualified voters or were not 27th Ward residents sign the petitions in some cases, or forged signatures by "roundtabling the petitions," the objection alleges.

On Tuesday, Burnett said that his attorneys have issued subpoenas for Beukinga's circulators. His team is working with private investigators and handwriting experts, too, Burnett said.

"[We're] subpoenaing all of his folks and circulators that allegedly say that they live where they live and all that good stuff," he said.

Hendon was also hired to circulate petitions for mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, who circulated and obtained 47,000 signatures in one week, according to the complaint. 

"Some people signed Gabe's petitions more than once, or signed Willie Wilson's 80 times, which shows that they were roundtabling," Burnett said. "We have a pattern of fraud."

On Tuesday, Beukinga said that he is "100 percent sure" that he will beat the objection to land a ballot spot. Beukinga said he personally collected 2,000 of the 4,000 signatures he submitted to the election commission.

"This is all part of the political games that Rahm and Burnett are playing," he said.

Of those 4,000 signatures, Beukinga said his team cross-checked 1,600 signatures and voter addresses with Chicago Board of Elections records. A candidate had to collect 473 valid signatures to land on the 27th Ward ballot.

In 2007 and 2011 races, the percentage of candidates who were successfully knocked off the ballot was about 28-29 percent, according to AlderTrack figures.

In November, Beukinga admitted he had a "drunken breakdown" after sending a series of angst-filled emails to Andy Gloor, managing principal of Sterling Bay, an influential West Loop developer. In the emails, Beukinga threatened to "crush" the developer and accused the firm of engaging in "pay-to-play politics" with current Ald. Walter Burnett Jr.

Later that month, Beukinga quit his job as a lending executive at SomerCor 504 to focus on the campaign full-time.

Beukinga is being backed by former 27th Ward aldermen Hendon, Davis and Dexter Watson.

Burnett, 51, is seeking his sixth term in office.

The diverse 27th Ward includes parts of East Garfield Park, the Near North Side, West Loop, Greek Town, Old Town, West Humboldt Park, West Town, the Medical District and Goose Island neighborhoods.

The election is Feb. 24.

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