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Dems to choose Derrick Smith challenger

May 22, 2012 3:35:29 PM PDT
Eight potential candidates made their case Tuesday to run as part of the newly-formed 10th District Unity Party against State Representative Derrick Smith, who has been indicted on federal bribery charges. Democratic committeemen narrowed their choice down to three and will return Wednesday with a winner.

The panel heard from a variety of candidates, including a former top aide to Todd Stroger and the daughter of a state senator. Each candidate told the panel why they want to represent the Illinois' 10th Legislative District.

"I'm very happy you guys are doing this, because the alternatives are not very good," said a committeeman as he laughed.

The alternative is Smith, who refused his party's request to take his name off the November ballot. In hopes of beating Smith, Democrats took the unusual step of forming a third party.

"We'll have to spend quite a bit of money, yes, but we are prepared to do what is necessary because we want to make sure the people of the 10th District are properly represented," said Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State.

Out of a panel of nine Democratic ward committeemen, White and 28 Ward Alderman Jason Ervin have the most weight in deciding who will run against Smith.

After listening to all the presentations and asking questions, the panel narrowed their choice down to three finalists.

Secretary of State White says of the three candidates left, the panel has more questions concerning issues with residency, economic situations and personal information.

"There is information that we are seeking that we didn't think that we got all that we need in order to make responsible decision," said White.

Allstate Insurance manager Melissa Conyears, Chicago Police Officer Eddie Winters and Lance Tyson, the former chief of staff to ex-Cook County board president Todd Strogers all made the final cut.

Tyson does not believe his ties with Stroger will hurt him.

"I was quite humbled by the fact that he asked me to serve him but more importantly the taxpayers of Cook County," Tyson said.

Police Officer Eddie Winters was not forthcoming about some legal problems during his interview Tuesday.

The Democrats return Wednesday afternoon to ask more questions and make a decision on who will run against Smith.


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