State Rep. Thaddeus Jones declares victory in Calumet City mayoral primary

State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, declared victory in the Democratic mayoral primary in Calumet City, even as it remains in doubt whether votes cast for him will count.

Jones said he had received 1,655 votes in unofficial results, compared to 1,374 votes for incumbent Mayor Michelle Markiewicz-Qualkinbush, who was seeking a fifth term.

But his campaign is waiting for an Illinois Supreme Court ruling regarding his vote total. Additionally, not all ballots, such as some submitted by mail, have been tallied.

Jones said Wednesday he “will be a mayor for everyone,” noting the population of Calumet City is about 80% Black.

Jones was the city’s first Black alderman, serving Calumet City’s 3rd Ward from 1997 to 2017, and would be the first Black mayor.

Since 2011, he has represented the Illinois House 29th District, which extends from Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood south through Dolton, South Holland, Thornton, Glenwood, Ford Heights, Steger, Crete and Monee. He ran unopposed in November for another term.

Markiewicz-Qualkinbush has been Calumet City mayor since 2003. She did not respond to a message Wednesday seeking comment.

The Cook County clerk’s office reported the 1,374 votes for Markiewicz-Qualkinbush on its election website, but has not listed any votes for Jones. His name, originally listed on the website’s results page, was removed Tuesday night.

An Illinois Supreme Court order Feb. 17, while keeping Jones’ name on the ballot, has the effect of impounding votes he received in early voting and on Tuesday pending an appeal of an Illinois Appellate Court decision that returned Jones to the ballot.

On Feb. 11, the appellate court overturned a Calumet City electoral board decision in December, affirmed by a Cook County judge Jan. 22, that removed Jones from the primary ballot.

The electoral board cited a referendum approved by Calumet City voters in November to prohibit people from running for mayor if they also hold an elected office created by the state constitution.

It was not clear how soon the high court might act on the matter after agreeing to allow the original objectors to Jones’ nominating papers to file an emergency motion for expedited consideration of their appeal, according to a Feb. 18 court order. The case will be submitted to the Supreme Court based on the briefs filed by both sides in the appellate case, according to the order.

Jones said Wednesday he was confident that votes cast for him would stand.

“The residents spoke overwhelmingly that they want me as their mayor,” he said.

The winner of the primary advances to the April 6 election, but no other candidates filed to run as Republican or independent. Tony Quiroz has filed as a write-in candidate.

Jones, who previously said he would not step down as legislator if elected mayor, said that economic development and reducing crime would be top priorities for him should the election results stand.

“We have an awesome task ahead of us,” he said. “I’m ready to get to work.”

Jones said he planned to hold community meetings monthly to enable residents to air concerns about crime in their neighborhoods.

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