Enyia remains on ballot, Clark hearing continued

Clark hearing to reconvene Jan. 19

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

Oak Park trustee candidate Chibuike Enyia will officially be on the ballot for the April 6 municipal election. However, it remains to be seen if the ballot will include Anthony Clark, also running for trustee. 

Resident Kevin Peppard filed objections against both candidates, but the Oak Park Municipal Electoral Board unanimously voted to dismiss the objection against Enyia during his second hearing Jan. 12. That same day, the board moved to continue Clark's hearing.

"I encourage Mr. Enyia to pursue a vigorous campaign and best of luck to him," said Peppard following the objection dismissal. "I appreciate the work he has done in mentoring youth in recent years."

Peppard's challenge against Enyia alleged that the candidate had a drug-related felony conviction that occurred in Iowa, which would make him ineligible to hold public office under Illinois law. Enyia's attorney Ed Mullen argued that although Enyia was charged he was not convicted.

"Conviction was never made part of the record. It's as though it doesn't exist," said Mullen. 

Enyia's case resulted in a deferred judgement, according to Mullen, which is a plea agreement allowing the defendant an opportunity to complete a period of probation prior to any entry of conviction. 

"He did receive probation and he completed that," said Mullen, who also stated that "the entire charge disappeared after three years."

The local electoral board – which consists of Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, senior village trustee Jim Taglia and Village Clerk Vicki Scaman – ruled that there was not enough evidence to support Peppard's claim and dismissed the challenge.

"We're a nation of second chances. I know that the laws today, with regard to the substance abuse laws you've been accused of, have changed," Abu-Taleb told Enyia.

Abu-Taleb continued, saying he knew that those laws have disproportionately impacted Black and Brown people.

"I am sorry that during the process of you seeking to serve the village that you have been challenged on that, but I also understand Mr. Peppard's motivation," the mayor said. 

Abu-Taleb told Peppard that he believed his motivation, like anyone else's, was that he wanted the best for Oak Park.

During the opening statements of Clark's hearing, Peppard addressed assertions made by the public that his challenges against the candidates, both of whom are Black, were racially motivated.

"That is not the case," said Peppard. "I bring these cases forward based upon law and the facts."

Peppard told the board that he has been attacked in the press and by the public for challenges that have been deemed "racist" and, in Clark's case, meant to criticize the candidate's financial situation. 

The objection lodged against Clark claims that he does not meet the residency requirement for a candidacy. Peppard used Clark's bankruptcy filing as evidence, as Clark claimed an address in Lombard as his primary residence in the paperwork and his parents' home in Oak Park as his mailing address.

"I had a picketer outside my home call me a member of the Ku Klux Klan," said Peppard. 

He called it ironic that the picketer invoked the KKK because a Klansmen had threatened harm to his father's farmhouse in 1920.

"And then had his nose broken while walking to school on a country road," said Peppard of his father. "His sin was being an Irish Catholic."

Peppard said he "condemned" the attack that occurred Jan. 6 outside Oak Park's Live Café, where a brick carrying a note with a racial slur was thrown at one of the café's windows. Live Café is serving as the campaign headquarters for Black village board candidates, including Clark and Enyia.

"Let's get on to the business of these hearings," said Peppard.

Mullen, who is also representing Clark, cross-examined his client and presented several documents, including Clark's driver's license and his dog's rabies vaccination paperwork. In each of the presented documents, Clark listed the Oak Park address as his primary residence.

In addition to Clark's bankruptcy filing, Peppard submitted as evidence a copy of the property tax bill on the Lombard property. 

Clark told the board that while he does own that property in Lombard, he has never lived there permanently or for any extended period of time. It was purchased to house what he believed to be his biological son and the child's mother. 

After the child and his mother moved out, Clark tried to sell the residence but was unable to. He stated he could not lease it to any tenants due to the rules of the homeowner association. 

Blanche Clark, Clark's mother who was called as a witness, testified that her son permanently resides with her and his father in their Oak Park home. Throughout the hearing, Clark maintained he lives in Oak Park. 

"You're an Oak Park resident just like I am," Clark told Peppard. 

Mullen and Peppard were asked to submit closing arguments by 5 p.m., Jan. 14. Clark's hearing will resume at 10:30 a.m., Jan. 19. 

 

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Reader Comments

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Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 18th, 2021 11:01 AM

Ruth Lazarus I understand that Anthony Clark is an amazing leader, teacher, activist, a voice for all people and a person of high integrity. I am confident that he found new housing for the woman and child who no longer lives at the Lombard address and the challenge against Mr. Clark will be dropped and he will be on the ballot. It is just the White man trying to hold Mr. Clark

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 18th, 2021 9:28 AM

Ruth, you're conflating Peppard filing nominating objections against two Black men with "only chos(ing) to investigate these two Black men for these specific issues." The investigation comes first. The objection comes if something is found. You chose to ignore the fact that Peppard found something, and you've no idea of whether he investigated only those two men.

Ruth Lazarus  

Posted: January 18th, 2021 9:05 AM

@Bill I'm not sure what you've read, but it's very clear that Mr. Clark lives in Oak Park on north Lombard. My understanding is that he also owns a house in the suburb Lombard where he has never lived. He made some mistakes with financial matters, but he lives in Oak Park. Just because Mr. Peppard has investigated people of all races at other times for other things, doesn't mean race wasn't a factor this time, when he only chose to investigate these two Black men for these specific issues. I'm not saying it's only about race, but shows a lack of awareness of the racial issues involved.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 17th, 2021 1:06 PM

Ruth Lazarus as Jr. points out, Mr. Peppard has done all races so it is not about race. Sure people make mistakes and Trump did too. Trump knows where his residents is when filing. I understand that people think this is a Black and White problem and want to think of it that way. It is not, or at least not with myself or Mr. Peppard. Accepting what politicians have done in the past is why we have some not so good politicians. All you have to do is look at Trump. I really do not think you followed him during the early 70's. I do not think many people will follow people who are on their way up in politics. The job of politicians is to remain being a politician. I do not think the Electoral Board is going to decide Anthony Clark can not be on the ballot although if they used Lady Justice as the scale, that would remove all race and just weigh the facts. That facts from what I read is the resident that Anthony Clark has used is the Lombard address when filing Federal forms. If I read what you probably have read, please let me know if I did not read it correctly

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 17th, 2021 12:07 PM

Ruth, Kevin Peppard has most certainly done similar investigations into numerous other candidates, many of them white. You're mistaken.

Ruth Lazarus  

Posted: January 17th, 2021 12:00 PM

@Bill. Thank you. I'm not sure how I will respond to the decision if it goes against Mr. Clark, but that's not what this is about. I was just questioning the motivation behind the accusations. Mr. Peppard certainly gets to exercise his legal right to investigate candidates that he doesn't like, but I get to question his motivations. @Tom. Lying implies intent that I just don't think is there. In any case, the issue that would keep him off the ballot is residency, and I don't think anyone is arguing anymore about that. I'm pretty sure many people in government have made mistakes, deliberate and otherwise, with tax deductions or other financial matters, and yet voters get to decide how relevant/important that is. My point remains that this investigation was motivated by bias, conscious or not I don't know, as admittedly Mr. Peppard has not done similar investigations of other candidates.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 17th, 2021 11:43 AM

Strong Black voices with out integrity or qualifications mean nothing. Kamela Harris didn't get my contributions and support in 2019 because of her strong Black voice- she received it because of her intelligence, accomplishments and integrity.

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 17th, 2021 11:36 AM

Tom M, just to clear up any ambiguity, I was not referring to you. As far as I'm aware you have been fair, measured and civil on this topic. I appreciate your contributions to these discussions. I can suspend my disbelief, as well as forget diving into Mr. Peppard's earlier online comments, and see the original intent behind these challenges being fair and impartial. In spite of that perspective, I would maintain that continuing the challenges after the hate crime is not something a well-intentioned neighbor would do. The public had the information, a journalist would've (and should've) dived deeper, and there would likely be attack ads that include the information. Dragging out this process simply drags on the pain of knowing that there are people in our community who don't want strong black voices leading it.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 17th, 2021 10:07 AM

What you've just said, Jason, is that your standards are so low that you accept a candidate who lied to receive an illegal home exemption because "he wanted to save a few bucks." So, apparently, the end justifies the means. How cynical .. . .It will be interesting, whenever Fritz Kaegi's office finally deigns to forward me responsive material to my September FOIA, to see how you and others of your ilk respond to a white Republican official who I have reason to believe has illegally taken home owner exemptions worth many thousands of dollars on TWO properties beside his legal residence. Perhaps he can just shrug his shoulders and say, "Hey, I wanted the money." Or maybe he can pull an Anthony Clark and profess confusion over what the Assessor meant by "primary residence." Me? It's all pretty, shall we say, black and white. It's illegal, no matter who does it, for whatever reason. And they should be held accountable for their illegal actions.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 17th, 2021 9:51 AM

Jason Cohen you wrote regarding Anthony Clark, "Did he lie. Yep he did." You mention the house was for a mother and child. The mother and child no longer live in the home. You wrote, "How dare he try to take a little sly tax break" Checking the dictionary that means, "having or showing a cunning and deceitful nature." So now you agree that a person who has lied and has a cunning and nature is not up to any of us. You are right, it is up to the Electoral Board to decide using your words if a person who lie's and is deceitful is fit to be on the ballot for trustee. There is no question in your mind Jason. He qualifies to be on the ballot

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 17th, 2021 9:32 AM

Ruth Lazarus maybe I am using the wrong word by saying ruling. Maybe the right word would be decision

Ruth Lazarus  

Posted: January 16th, 2021 12:50 PM

@Bill. I don't know what ruling you are referring to, so not sure how to respond here.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 16th, 2021 11:58 AM

@Tom, Clark owns one house. He took a tax break on it by marking it as his primary residence. He doesn't own another home so I get it. He wanted to save a few bucks. Did he lie. Yep he did. I am sure you have never done anything remotely like this. The house also happened to be for a mother and child that he didn't even live with. How dare he try to take a little sly tax break to better afford to support a mother and child. What a horrible person. He may suffer some consequences for these actions. That's not up to any of us. If he's on the ballot everyone knows all this now. That was Kevin's goal so congrats to him. You wouldn't have voted for Clark if he was squeaky clean so stop pretending this actually matters to you. I hope Clark gets the chance to let the voters decide.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 16th, 2021 10:50 AM

Ruth Lazarus and Ed Egan what I think the difference is between both of you and Kevin Peppard is the both of you would be out in the streets protesting against the ruling until it was reversed while Kevin Peppard has accepted the ruling and would not be in the streets protesting because he has accepted the ruling. It is obvious that both of you did not want Kevin Peppard to exercise his right's and that is wrong

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 16th, 2021 10:10 AM

OK Ruth, so Clark is just a liar. Our bias against liars is showing. We are guilty of having expectations above letting liars run our government. He should be on the ballot, like the bullet in a game of Russian Roulette we hope to avoid. Sorry to dig in the heels on this one. The thing about liars is that you can count on them to keep up the lies.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 16th, 2021 10:04 AM

You just struggle with allowing any facts to enter into your deliberations, don't you, Ed? So much easier to just assume racial bias on the part of people who raise concerns. Me? I'll be voting for some people of color in April, but it won't be Clark or Enyia. .

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 16th, 2021 9:14 AM

Well said Ruth! Now brace for impact on Peppard's groupies that also like to obfuscate their bias by bemoaning "the law and facts." These are the same people that revel in implying the cafe staged the hate crime, to mine and likely others' disgust. This is pretty troubling, because I assume that if someone here were to imply Peppard committed the hate crime they would likely demand everyone adhere to innocent until proven guilty.

Ruth Lazarus  

Posted: January 16th, 2021 8:45 AM

Mr. Peppard, your concerns appear to be shifting. Initially, back in August, you stated, "What if it turns out that Clark doesn't live here, and is only using his parent's house as a place to be registered to vote? Stay tuned ?". Now that you've learned that he does live here, you are focusing on the financial matters. Perhaps Mr. Clark and his family do not have a lot of experience with these sorts of financial matters, maybe they got bad advice. I don't know, and neither do you, yet you assume the worst. On the other hand, I know that Mr. Clark lives here and that he has always been a positive force in our community. He should be on the ballot so that we all can choose to vote for him or not. You might think your efforts are just based on "the law and the facts", but you show zero recognition that you (like all of us) might have biases that are impacting the choices you make. Instead of digging in your heels, you could learn some things here if you care to.

Corey Gimbel from River Forest  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 4:01 PM

@Jason Cohen: I'm curious why you have eliminated Dan Moroney as a possible candidate? Care to share?

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 3:53 PM

Jason Cohen it does not appear there are a lot of Trump people who post on here and even if there were, it is alright. They have that freedom as long as they follow the rules. If you were not aware of Trump and what he was doing in the 1970's then read about him. He did some clever business dealings which were legal although he left a trail of mess. If you knew then you would have known what to expect when he made it as President. He learned it was more important to sell an idea then to produce an idea. He used that skill on his campaign trail and amassed the following he has because of his skill. He does not care about his followers more than he cared about the mess he left behind him making his way through real estate and enjoys the power of what he says. Biden's team is upset because they want Trump's twitter handle and do not think people are capable of doing the simple thing of clicking on follow a Biden account. That is giving a very low opinion of Biden followers. Peppard's challenge is not about anything other then qualification. He has written he has challenged people of different races. If you want to vote for Clark, once he is given the approval, which is just my opinion, then go ahead. Do not let facts like what William Dwyer Jr. wrote get in your way

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 3:14 PM

Kevin Peppard you missed some other politicians or maybe you did make mention of it a few years ago and I missed it and if so, it did not cause any problems. I am not the Amazing Kreskin, although think of the timing of the next meeting and the day after. How much will people care as much as you do about who did what

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 3:14 PM

@Bill, there aren't a ton of Trumpers in OP but there are certainly more of them that post on here as a % than is represented by the whole village. My point is simply to point out the hypocrisy of complaining about Clark's bankruptcy while happily voting for that idiot Trump because he's a great businessman.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 3:10 PM

@Tom, you don't mention 2016 but I will hope that you weren't a Trumper then. I don't view a bankruptcy alone as a disqualification for my vote. It's silly to assume that everyone that runs has a perfect personal record. To each their own though. We all make our own decisions. I am still waiting to hear each candidates full platform. I will vote for whomever best aligns to my own goals for the village. The only person I have eliminated is Moroney so far.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 3:08 PM

Jason Cohen I would think that the majority of people in Oak Park did not vote for Trump. I am not sure if you are running a correlation between Trump and Clark because of a bankruptcy. If you were paying attention in the 1970's what Trump was doing it would be no surprise why it turned out the way it did. It is either a job or a hobby to pay attention. He thought of some creative ways to make money although many bankers were not smiling. Anyway, pay attention even in local politics. You will hear a lot of pleasing words that fits into today's list of words. Maybe a politician will do good or maybe not although Oak Park deliveries quality Police and Firefighter/Paramedic services and why mess with something when it is working just to get a few more votes

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 3:04 PM

@Kevin, I never said that's the election issue did I? There have been posts about people not wanting to vote for Clark due to his bankruptcy. I already know your game and just ignore your nonsense.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 2:57 PM

Voted for Biden, Jason. I don't like Presidents or local Trustees who can't manage money. How a bankrupt person wakes up one day and thinks they qualify for these public jobs running budgets is amazing.

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 2:53 PM

Jason Cohen: Clark's bankruptcy is not the election issue. It's that he swore in that filing that his primary residence is in DuPage County and that Oak Park is only a mailing address. Likewise on his mortgage, insurance, mortgage forbearance under COVID 19 relief, homesteader's property tax exemption, and his parents swore for an interest free rehab loan that they are the only residents at the Oak Park address (otherwise, the household income level would be too high). Read the objection papers on the Village website.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 2:40 PM

If anyone on here voted for Trump I sure hope you aren't now stating that Clark's bankruptcy is an issue for you. I would assume it's the exact opposite given how amazing a businessman Trump is after his multiple bankruptcies.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 2:36 PM

@William, yeah it was for the Bill Bill not The William Bill :-)

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 1:21 PM

Damn. Looks like I'm the one confused here. Disregard.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 1:21 PM

You're absolutely right, Jason. And I don't recall ever telling you who to vote for. I simply comment on who I prefer- or don't. Sorry if you're confused about the difference.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 12:45 PM

Jason Cohen I am not telling you who to vote for. I am writing that the most important part of any candidate is where they stand regarding Police and Firefighter/Paramedic's. It is either a yes or no position

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 15th, 2021 11:46 AM

@Bill, you don't get to decide who's the best person for me to vote for. All those running need to make ALL their issues clear. "Defund" is just one item and everyone can decide for themselves who to vote for.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 4:58 PM

The candidate who does not have any plans to defund, reallocate or any other ideas to remove Police Officer's, and does not have any plans to defund, reallocate or any other ideas to remove FireFighters/Paramedic's is the best one to vote for and each candidate should make that very clear

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 4:33 PM

All three people running on Boutet's slate have impressive resumes.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 3:49 PM

Maybe we could talk more deeply about some of the other candidates for Trustee, who have managed their finances without going bankrupt or someone who didn't need probation. Not really looking for that sort of "experience", so perhaps someone has run a business or created some jobs or something? Is that too much to ask around here?

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 3:42 PM

So, "gay privilege"? So to speak.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 3:37 PM

Here's the downlow, Mr. D: ridiculing the purveyors of oppression with the same terms they used to put down on the oppressed, the outcast and the different is one weapon only the latter groups get to use. So, if I want to call Donald Trump a sissy (which he is in the sense of his standing with the right as a he-man) I get to do it. If I want to ridicule hypocrite Lindsey Graham's alleged heterosexuality by calling him Aunt Pittypat or Miss Graham, I get to do it. If I want to make jokes about McConnell having boyfriends, I get to do it. Sometimes, sarcasm is the only civilized response to the powerful.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 1:47 PM

Only a fool will argue with another fool

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 12:19 PM

I know that Jeffrey. Which makes it odd that you'd use that sort of terminology. It's a slur. As if having a petticoat is somehow wrong. What's next? Calling assumed racists "Lite in the loafers"?

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 11:53 AM

Mr. D: I'm gay, but nice try. And my petticoats never show, because I was properly brought up.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 9:31 AM

A lesson to be learned. It went through the process and Mr. Peppard does not appear to hold any animosity. People have responded well to the decision and I hope if it went the other way, people would respond the same way. That is the lesson to be learnt

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 9:06 AM

So "closet racism occasionally flaunts its petticoats," huh. Nice use of ever so slightly veiled homophobia there, Jeffery. Apparently that's an acceptable from of bigotry to you.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: January 14th, 2021 8:33 AM

Oak Park's smug, closet racism occasionally flaunts its petticoats (and sheets) in public. Along with the regular commentators on these pages, it makes a very effective emetic.

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