In the 7th District Illinois Representative race, all petition challenges except those of candidate Beyonca Johnson have been overruled by the Cook County Board of Appeals, meaning that candidates Rory Hoskins, Shirby Miller and Chris Welch will remain on the ballot. The paperwork of Princess Dempsey was not challenged.
Johnson was challenged twice. Her signatures were challenged by Dempsey campaign worker Charisse Weatherly. A hearing for Johnson’s signatures challenge was scheduled for Tuesday after press time. But Johnson seemed optimistic that she would have an adequate number of signatures to keep her on the ballot.
A second challenge regarding Johnson’s residency was submitted by Rahshedah Brock, who represents Chris Welch. The Welch campaign asserts that her voter registration is invalid because she moved to Maywood, where she has lived for seven years, from Forest Park
“I goofed up and didn’t change my voter’s registration to my Maywood address,” Johnson said. “Their argument is that I was not a duly registered voter at the home address in Maywood.” When asked why she failed to register, she explained, “I did not vote in the last election.”
Johnson and District 209 board President Welch also have a turbulent personal history. In 2010, she sued Welch in U.S. District Court for sexual harassment and also sued the school board for retaliatory firing after she and Welch ended an alleged workplace romance. Johnson had been employed as an assistant to the superintendent in the Proviso High School district for eight months before she was fired. She took out an order of protection against Welch in April 2010 in Cook County Court but withdrew the suit two months later.
Johnson says her campaign “is not about Chris Welch. It’s not a vendetta. I have better things to do than try to run a race for him. It’s about me doing what’s right for the people.” Johnson said she considers Welch’s history of having D209 pay his legal bills for a 2007 defamation lawsuit by Chicago attorneys Burt Odelson and Mark Sterk to be “abusive.”
“I am running because of people who abuse their power. I was the victim of abuse of power. [D209] only fired me because of the power that they held,” said Johnson, who has never held elected office but worked for 8th Dist. state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford.
“Her experience in the political arena is zero,” said campaign manager Marvin Harrison, who describes himself as a family friend. “But [Johnson’s] desire is to bring back resources to the district and change the dynamics of how things are going in this state. That’s the baseline of her wanting to run for office. She’s always paid attention to things going wrong in the community.”