Up to the Challenge

Howard Brookins Jr., who’s running for 21st Ward alderman against incumbent Leonard DeVille, is no slouch. He’s a former public defender and assistant state’s attorney. His father served in the Illinois house and senate in the 1980s and ’90s, and his mother worked as a secretary for Jesse Jackson at Operation Breadbasket. Through them, Brookins knows most of the movers and shakers on the south side. Still, he finished third in the 1999 race.

One of his supporters this time around claimed that DeVille workers were circulating nominating petitions after November 2, even though the notary’s license of the person who notarized them–DeVille’s chief of staff, Mildred McClendon–had expired on that date. So just before Christmas, Brookins’s camp filed charges against DeVille with the Board of Election Commissioners, arguing that the petitions were invalid and DeVille’s name should be taken off the ballot. Brookins also charges, “She notarized papers, except one or two, as though they were circulated on or before November 1.”

DeVille scoffs at the accusations and fires back: “I was most surprised when I saw that [Brookins] registered at 9145 S. Union. I’ve been going door-to-door, and I know he does not live at that address.”

Yet DeVille isn’t interested in challenging Brookins’s petitions. “Hiring attorneys costs money,” he says. “I’d rather spend my money on my campaign.”

Brookins says DeVille’s blowing smoke when he claims Brookins doesn’t live at his registered address. “If he felt that way he would have challenged me,” Brookins says. “You can come by my house. I own a house in the ward. My neighbors will tell you I’m active in the block club.”

Two weeks ago both sides appeared before an administrative hearing officer for the election board. The officer ruled for DeVille. Brookins doesn’t plan to appeal, noting, “We just felt that it may not be cost-effective.” –Michael Marsh

You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?

A Chicago aldermanic race just wouldn’t be the same without a few candidates who don’t live in the wards they hope to represent. In 1983 a candidate for the 29th Ward slot claimed she lived at an address that had been boarded up for months. She admitted receiving mail at an address outside the ward but insisted she stayed at the house four or five nights a week, using a kerosene stove for heat and entering the house through a loosely boarded-up window.

Now former Chicago Bulls star Bob “Butterbean” Love, who led the team in scoring for seven consecutive years in the 60s and 70s and is now its director of community affairs, is running for 15th Ward alderman and insisting he lives in poverty-stricken, crime-plagued West Englewood. “He supposedly stays on our block, but I ain’t never seen him there,” says one young resident who hopes Love wins anyway.

The current alderman, Ted Thomas, a retired electronics technician and harmless independent, thinks the mayor put Love up to running. Love is probably Thomas’s most formidable challenger, but the incumbent has filed objections against all ten of his opponents, just in case. The one against Love is based on residency, as is the one against former alderman Virgil Jones, who’s back in politics after serving time for taking bribes. Thomas says, “Virgil Jones hasn’t been a resident of the 15th Ward for the required two years because his residency has been in, you know. . .”

Love’s name isn’t on any of the mailboxes at the two-flat at 6623 S. Campbell, the address listed on his candidate forms. He registered to vote at that address a year ago, but hasn’t gotten to know the neighbors. “I don’t think he lives at 6623,” says one woman who’s lived across the street for ten years. “Nobody there is tall.”

Love wants to know why it’s so hard for people to believe he lives in the ward. “I would invite you by my house, but I’m not gonna even get into that,” he says. “I’m gonna let the process take its course. I’ve been living in the ward since 1998, and I’ve got the documents to show it. I’ve got my rent receipts.” –Linda Lutton

Just Passing Through

Tom Bradley, a 36-year-old former priest, wants to knock off 49th Ward alderman Joe Moore. He also wants his upstart campaign to turn on economic development–though it could serve as a meditation on love and civic work.

In 1993 Bradley came to Saint Jerome’s Church on West Lunt as associate pastor; six years later he became parish priest. His church needed repairs, but his large, poor parish was facing a $1 million deficit. He managed to patch up the church and bring its budget into the black.

Then last July he left the priesthood. “I wanted to be open to the possibility of marriage and family,” he says. “It was a calling from God. I worked with my spiritual adviser on this for a year and a half, and I prayed about it with Cardinal George.” He now has a girlfriend, a campaign aide who began as a friend and parishioner.

Back in the secular life, Bradley decided to become either a realtor, like his father, or an alderman. He decided to start with alderman. The focus of his campaign is a city study showing that Rogers Park residents spend 44 percent of their retail dollars locally; he wants to encourage them to spend more in the neighborhood. Moore responds, “We want more stores, but Rogers Park is primarily a bedroom community and always will be.”

If he wins, Bradley says, he doesn’t plan to stay in office long: “It’s a four-year career. You’d try to stay on after that, but in no way is being alderman the equivalent of being a priest or a married man. Being alderman is a job, the other is a vocation. Let me put it this way–if you asked the aldermen, ‘You can be an alderman or a married man,’ how many of them would give up their wives?”

Moore, who’s 44, happens to be divorced. “There are many reasons why a marriage, sadly, fails,” says the three-term incumbent, “but certainly the job of alderman is a demanding one. I work 60 to 80 hours a week. That can’t help but take a toll on a family. But [Bradley] won’t have to worry about that.” –Grant Pick