CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s one thing for an elected official to decide not to attend a candidates’ forum. It is completely different for a politician to try to shut forums down.
As CBS 2 political reporter Derrick Blakley explains, that’s exactly what Ald. Derrick Curtis is accused of doing in the 18th ward.
By all accounts, Ald. Derrick Curtis has chosen not to attend any 18th Ward candidate forums. But what has some steamed is a letter from Curtis, on official Chicago City Council stationery, which said “I am posting this letter so residents of the 18th Ward do not show up for a FAKE forum that I will not be attending at all.”
“When I saw the letter, I literally cried. I said this is wrong. We can’t keep quiet about this,” said Marquis Dreyer. She sent the letter to CBS 2, because she said Curtis falsely said a park group needed a permit to hold a forum.
“He did not show but we actually had the forum at Hayes Park,” Dreyer said. “I think he does not want to participate in the forums, mainly because residents want to ask him some hard questions.”
Questions about allegations from the Chicago Tribune that Curtis plagiarized answers from Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) on a candidates questionnaire. Curtis’ answers were almost exactly the same as Harris’.
“It’s clear the letter is to intimidate,” said Chuks Onyezia, who is running against Curtis. Onyezia believes the letter may violate campaign laws.
“It’s crystal clear the use of the city shield and official letterhead from the city is not to be used for any campaign or political purposes whatsoever,” Onyezia said. “So this is actually a huge ethics violation, if not illegal.”
Onyezia charges Curtis has been tough to find. His ward office was closed for Presidents Day. At his home, CBS 2 was directed to his political office. The office was locked and totally empty with no furniture inside with a little more than a week until the election.
How big an issue will this letter become in the aldermanic race? That’s tough to say. It’s Onyezia’s third run for the 18th Ward seat. Ironically, Curtis promised accessibility when he won the office, defeating then-incumbent Lona Lane in a blowout victory four years ago.