Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for January 7, 2007

From the WPSD TV Channel 6 website...

Felons Denied City Positions

Four convicted felons in Southern Illinois take issue with a state law that keeps them out of office. Three of the candidates were told they can not run... the other was given the thumbs up. In a special hearing Friday, Phillip Matthews, Charles Koen and Gregory Walker were told they do not qualify as city council candidates...because all three are convicted felons. But Mayoral candidate Easley Cornelius Junior, who is also a convicted felon was told he could stay on the ballot.

Sixteen people are vying for 6 spots at Cairo, Illinois City Hall. City Clerk Erica Wells says 3 names won't be on the ballot because voters challenged their candidacy. "There were two electoral boards formed. The first was the mayor, myself the city clerk and the longest running city councilman," Wells says.

That team said Phillip Matthews, Charles Koen and Gregory Walker were ineligible for city council because each has a felony conviction. Matthews and Walker weren't available for comment but Dr. Charles Koen says his removal from the ballot is part of city leaders conspiracy against African Americans. "They moved to place complaints against various to move and take names off the ballot," says Koen.

A different election board, made up of the city clerk, and two city council members decided Easley Cornelius, Jr, who is also a convicted felon, could still run for Mayor. Even if the voters said Cornelius is the man for the job, state law says he can never take the office because of a felony. Knowing this, two city council members, Bo Purchase and Linda Jackson still voted to keep his name on the ballot because they say there is nothing in the law that keeps him from running for the office.

Cornelius says he plans to take the election as far as he can. City leaders say they will stand by the law. City Clerk Wells says all candidates have 10 days to file objections to the election board's decisions before the ballot can be certified.