In a crowded race to succeed Leader Barbara Flynn Currie as the 25th District's state representative, Ebonie Davis was the only LGBT-identified candidate. But that is the case no longer: Davis was successfully challenged off the ballot Jan. 30. The Hyde Park Herald reported that of 1,118 signatures Davis collected, the Board of Elections considered 670 invalid.
Candidates required 500 signatures to be placed on a ballot, and the Herald reported that after investigation, Davis missed that number by 52 signatures. According to Davis, after collecting affidavits pertaining to the disputed signatures, perhaps as few as 20 signatures made the difference. First aware of the challenge sometime in December, Davis called the process of verifying signatures "exhausting."
"I've done work with Access Living and members of the disabled community and I had some individuals who signed my petition, but because their handwriting didn't reflect what they may have signed on their voter registration card, it was invalid," Davis said. "What broke my heart was that I had people who were in the hospital, maybe had just gotten out of the hospital, and I had to call them, and ask, and people were, like, 'You can come over now, yes, if it's like 9 o'clock at night, 10 o'clock at night, you can come to my house, I'll sign this affidavit.' They had to print their name, sign it, have their address, line number of the petition, print it again and then re-sign it. And then it all had to be notarized."
Perhaps because of the high number of candidates, Davis said her district had "probably the longest ballot challenge period" of any race. Davis said she had been challenged twice before, by the campaigns of opponents Angelique Collins and Will Calloway, but the successful challenge came from fellow South Shore native Adrienne Irmer's campaign. While Davis' collected affidavits had dispelled previous challenges, Irmer's had been different.
"They did what you call "dual objections," Davis explained. "They not only challenged the person's signature, but they also said the person wasn't registered. Even if the handwriting expert from the board of elections said the signature was valid, and even if we got an affidavit saying the signature was valid, if they weren't registered at that address, then it just didn't go."
Because she was still employed full time by the Illinois Department of Human Rights while running for office, Davis felt she was at a disadvantage when it came to signature collection.
"I think I did exceptionally well considering I entered into this race very late. In less than a month, we were able to get those 1,100 signatures. We were out there hustling really hard," Davis said. "A big difficulty that I had in this race was that I did all of the sexual harassment training for the general assembly. And so a lot my circulating had to be done in the evening time, but keep in mind, in November I was in Springfield for the entire month. Even though I had, what, 1,118 signatures, me having the time to go and check signatures, make sure that they're good. ... It was just very difficult. My opponents, a lot of them were not working at that timethey may not have been working or they're entrepreneurs, they work for themselves. Whereas me, I have the twins who I'm a legal guardian for who are three years old, I've got trainings for my job. I didn't have the luxury to just take off work at that time."
Nevertheless, Davis is looking towards the future, making an effort to rebrand herself and hosting an appreciation party called "Together We With Ebonie" on Feb. 18 at the Quarry Event Center in South Shore.
"I need people to not give up hope," Davis said. "Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in South Shore who are very upset. I've received calls, people are concerned. I feel like a lot of people feel a sense of hopelessness, and they thought I had it in the bag, but that's the game of politics that people play."
Davis expressed gratitude for all the support she'd gotten throughout her run and wanted to continue to work for her community's needs.
"I want the community to define what they want to do with me: "together we build," "together we learn," "together we collaborate," "together we educate," "together we create safe environments.".. whatever the community is looking to do that I can assist with, I want to do it collectively and holistically," Davis said. "I'm not too upset about the race. I'm out, but the work is still there. I just need to continue the work that I had already started last year."
On Feb. 11, Davis announced her endorsement of elder-care lawyer and community activist Anne Marie Miles. "I am supporting someone who like myself, has skin in the game," Davis emailed. "A person with a proven track record of selflessly working for the people. I am supporting Anne Marie Miles because her grassroots work within the South Shore Community and the 25th District aligns with my connection to the heart of the people."
Related posted at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/ELECTIONS-2018-Ebonie-Davis-now-off-ballot/61875.html .