Rockwell, LeClaire, ABLA Elections

by  Assistant Editor

Strange Tales from Rockwell

On a dreary, rainy November day, a large Maroon van pulled up to the polling place located at 2540 West Jackson by the Rockwell Gardens development. A short, older man adorned with a gray cap and glasses opened up the door like a gentleman for six young women who exited out of the van. I motioned for one of the young women to come over to talk to me.

Yolanda Buchanan, a resident of Rockwell and a young, single mother of five came over for an interview.Are you a resident, I asked.

“Yes, I’m a resident, I have been a resident for about six to seven years now,” Buchanan said.

I then asked her why she was at the polling place.

“Because that young man brought us here to vote. All I want to do is just move, that’s all,” Buchanan added.

I asked Buchanan who is that young man.

She hesitated as he looked at her. He walked over to me and said “Please don’t mention me, I will get in trouble. I have to work with whoever wins this election.”

As an inquisitive reporter, that comment only fueled the fire that lined my belly. It made me want to seek more answers.

By asking around, I found out that the young man was Eddie Williams and that he worked for a Chicago Housing Authority Service Connector at Rockwell.

Perhaps Williams was afraid because CHA is supposed to stay neutral – that means don’t mess with – the resident’s LAC elections.

I talked to current Rockwell LAC president Mary Baldwin. How do you think the race is going?

“It’s going very smoothly. It’s doing okay!” Baldwin said.

After that, I?went in front of 2515 West Jackson, a 15 story red high rise building located across the street from the polling place.

A young lady and 27 year resident of Rockwell ran up to me as I stood at base of the building as the rain drizzled down. Her name was Tyeisha Matthews and she was upset because the ballots at Rockwell had nobody opposing current LAC President Mary Baldwin.

”I think that it is wrong. I wanted to run for the LAC president. But whoever made up the ballots just put me down as running for building president,” she said as Baldwin looked on at us. “This is not fair to me. I petitioned to be the LAC President.”

CHA spokesperson Derek Hill said Matthews did not have enough signatures on her petition to be placed on the ballot as a candidate for LAC president of Rockwell. CHA said she had 19 names and she needed 25.

City-State Residents Sold Short at LeClaire
Residents on the city-state side of Leclaire Courts were complaining about not being able to vote in the LAC elections. Only residents on the federally administered side would be able to vote, after a rule change by Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, based in Washington, D.C.

This is a new policy, ending more than 30 years of involvement in the elections by City-State residents. (See “More CHA Resident Voting Woes,” p.10)

A letter posted in the management office detailed the new rules. It read, in part, “City-State residents cannot vote, cannot run for office, and cannot sign a petition for someone else running for office.” Gail Niemann, top lawyer for CHA, wrote and signed the letter.

“I think that this is devastating to know that we are not a part of the working group, and to know that we do not have a voice but yet whatever CHA does affects us,” said Jornell Holly, a longtime resident of Leclaire Courts.

“I don’t like it, but if it is a HUD regulation, I will have to accept it. But I’m not going to sit around doing nothing, I will continue to be active in the community,” Ruth Todd, a former LAC President said. Todd lives on the city-state side, so she is no longer eligible to be LAC President because of the new rules.

“I don’t like the division, the rip, between city and state and the federal side,” Natalie Saffold, a 13-year resident who is running for LAC President said.

“I guess that they are competing against each other but regardless of who wins, I hope that they can help the residents that have no income,” Happy Coleman, a two-year resident, said.

‘The election is okay, but I wish that Ruth Todd was still in the election. It doesn’t seem fair for the city to do that to her. I really don’t understand why she can’t run again,” Quinetta Walton a 12-year resident said.

Allegations are surfacing that Ruth Todd paid voters $20 each for them to vote on her surrogate, Ms. Saffold.

Beverly Runs Unopposed
ABLA Homes LAC President Deverra Beverly ran uncontested in this election.
“My residents are coming out with no problem,” Beverly said. “This is the only time in the last four elections we haven’t had any problems.”

Residents that I spoke to all agreed there was no better choice than Beverly.

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