Thaddeus Jones declares victory in Calumet City mayoral primary; incumbent Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush does not concede

State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, who is seeking to become the first black mayor in Calumet City history, on Wednesday declared victory over 18-year incumbent Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Markiewicz Qualkinbush did not concede, citing in a statement the pending Illinois Supreme Court decision on Jones’ eligibility to be on the primary ballot.

According to final, unofficial results on Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough’s election webpage, Markiewicz Qualkinbush received 1,374 of 3,029 votes cast and there were 10 write-in votes.

That would apparently leave Jones with 1,645 votes, though his total is not listed.

Jones’ name was restored to the ballot by an Illinois Appellate Court ruling on Feb. 11 after it was knocked off by a municipal election board decision, which was sustained by a Cook County Circuit Court judge.

The election board’s decision came in the wake of a referendum passed in November banning mayoral candidates who also hold elected offices created by the Illinois constitution.

The city has appealed the Appellate Court decision to the Illinois Supreme Court, which has yet to rule.

“This is a new day in Calumet City,” Jones said Wednesday in a Zoom press conference.

“Everyone knows the story of what I’ve been through,” he added. “We have been through one of the hardest legal fights to make sure votes have been counted.

“I want to thank Mayor Michelle for what she’s done in Calumet City, but I also want to thank the process.”

Jones noted that he was the first black alderman elected in Calumet City in 1997. He served until 2017, and has been a state representative since 2011.

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, Calumet City’s population is 74% black, 15% Hispanic or Latino and 10% white.

“I will be a mayor for everyone,” Jones said. “I will reach across to all voters, even those who didn’t vote for me.”

Jones said his top priorities will include: revitalizing River Oaks Center, Calumet City’s longtime shopping hub; bringing new housing to a city where he says no new homes have been built in 36 years; and fighting crime.

Markiewicz Qualkinbush said in a statement she is taking a wait-and-see approach to the results:

“The Cook County Clerk has not yet released the total votes received by Rep. Jones, as we all await a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court on whether legal votes were cast for him, given nearly 10,000 residents who voted for a referendum on Nov. 3 preventing anyone from running for mayor while also holding state office. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will make its decision soon, so we can all move forward.”

The referendum passed by a margin of 68% to 32% with 9,485 “yes” votes and 4,385 “no” votes.

Other final, unofficial results showed three of four incumbent Calumet City aldermanic candidates winning their primary races.

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