The two candidates for Peoria mayor facing challenges to their nominating petitions say they are optimistic about remaining on the primary ballot.
Couri Thomas and the Rev. Chuck Brown are scheduled to attend a Tuesday hearing of the Peoria County Election Commission in hopes of remaining on the primary ballot.
“It was pretty sudden, a spur-of-the-moment-type thing,” Thomas said of Anthony Walraven’s claim that he and Brown do not have enough valid signatures on their petitions. “I think it's a group of agitators out there that like doing these type of things instead of having a fair election.”
Thomas received 45% of the vote in his 2017 head-to-head bid against incumbent Mayor Jim Ardis. He said he had no issues with his nominating petition before, but noted the COVID-19 pandemic posed an added challenge to collecting signatures this year.
Brown said the petitions required 135 signatures and the allegation is that some of his names are not registered voters. He said another issue that has been raised is focused on him filing his paperwork as “Charles Brown” instead of “Chuck.”
“They were looking at some technicalities on my form,” said Brown. “But what that is really done for me is it’s driven me harder to work harder to make in our city a better place.
“I'm still very excited and looking forward to seeing what this result will be. My goal is to continue to pursue becoming the next mayor of the City of Peoria.”
With Ardis not seeking a fifth term, the field has attracted several candidates. Joining Thomas and Brown in the race are current council members Rita Ali, Jim Montelongo and Sid Ruckriegel, as well as Andres Diaz and Chama St. Louis.
Thomas said removing him from the February ballot would deprive voters of a chance to hear from all candidates about Peoria’s current issues and future direction.
“I'm just eager to get what's been on my heart over this last three or four years, and it would cheat the city if anything negative happened,” said Thomas. “But we're proceeding with all confidence going forward, and I'm just waiting on the opportunity to debate with all these candidates this time.”
The hearing on the petition challenges is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Tuesday in Peoria County Courthouse room 403, after the election commission’s regular meeting.
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