Jim Dey | Dems’ former leader urges voters to reject Ammons’ candidates


A political fight that first broke out in March has flared again after one self-proclaimed Champaign County Democratic Party chairwoman blasted another.

Maryam Ar-Raheem not only renewed her criticism of Democratic state Rep. Carol Ammons but urged voters not to support either Ammons or some of Ammons’ close political associates in Tuesday’s election.

Ar-Raheem charged that Ammons and her husband, County Clerk Aaron Ammons, are trying to layer local government with close political associates as well as a family member, their daughter, Tatianna Ammons.

“If we’re not careful, the only people elected will be the people they choose or can control,” Ar-Raheem said.

A spokeswoman for Carol Ammons, Jenna Sickenius, said, “Chair Ammons has no comment.”

County board Democrat Mike Ingram, who is running for recorder of deeds, characterized Ar-Raheem’s criticism as “rehashing” her previous complaints. Other than that, he said he didn’t have any other comment.

Carol Ammons and Ar-Raheem supporters had a political showdown earlier this year when Ammons challenged Ar-Raheem, the incumbent chairwoman, for the top spot in the county Democratic Party.

The party held two separate conventions, Ammons winning the chairwoman’s post in the first and Ar-Raheem the second.

Ammons emerged triumphant, receiving the most support from party precinct captains. She also is recognized by state party leaders as the official chairwoman.

But Ar-Raheem refuses to concede defeat, contends she’s the chairwoman and presides over a separate party faction.

That dispute, however, is just a part of the disagreement between the two.

Ar-Raheem also criticized the successful effort by Ammons’ Democrats and others to purge four party incumbents on the county board in the March primary, replacing them with those who described themselves as more “progressive” than their ousted counterparts. The ousted Democrats are Giraldo Rosales, Linda Fears, Connie Dillard-Myers and Charles Young.

As a consequence, Ar-Raheem said she supports only two Democrats who are running for countywide office — incumbent Auditor George Danos and circuit clerk candidate Susan McGrath.

Ar-Raheem specifically identified three countywide Democratic candidates whose election she opposes — Ingram, treasurer candidate Cassandra “C.J.” Johnson and coroner candidate Chaundra Bishop.

Johnson, a 40-year-old U.S. Air Force retiree, said she “doesn’t really know” Ar-Raheem,” so she couldn’t comment.

‘I d

on’t care what party they are’Although Tatianna Ammons is running unopposed for the county board, she’s also laying the groundwork for a run for city clerk in Urbana’s spring elections.

Linda Turnbull, a local Democratic activist, said she has collected petition signatures on Tatianna Ammons’ behalf for the city clerk’s post.

“She’s running,” Turnbull said.

Even though she characterized herself as a loyal Democrat, Ar-Raheem said she decided to speak out ahead of the Nov. 3 election because of her objections to the way her rivals do their political business.

“I don’t care what party they are,” she said.

Ar-Raheem complained of the close ties among the candidates. She noted that both Carol and Tatianna Ammons are on this year’s ballot. Aaron Ammons was elected county clerk in 2018 and is up for re-election in 2022.

Ar-Raheem also complained that treasurer candidate Johnson is the aunt by marriage of recorder candidate Ingram.

Johnson said, however, that “I don’t see that as a problem at all.”

She said she and Ingram are “connected” but “not to the point where it would be a problem” for both to hold county office.

In addition to running for treasurer, Johnson is working on her doctorate from the University of Southern California in organizational change and leadership.


going for county sweepCounty Democrats have been on a roll since 2018, when they captured all countywide contests, including auditor and sheriff. They hope to repeat that triumph in 2020, and if they do, they’d hold all countywide offices, signaling a reversal of decades of GOP dominance in Champaign County.

But internal party discord and bad publicity could undermine that effort.

For example, Rep. Ammons remains the subject of a criminal investigation under the purview of the state’s appellate prosecutor’s office. That’s in connection with a shoplifting incident at a local charity. The prosecutor’s office has steadfastly refused to comment on any aspect of the probe.

At the same time, the Democrats’ triumph in the 2018 treasurer’s race quickly turned into a tragic-comedy. Elected Democratic Treasurer Laurel Prussing resigned in January and left the office in a state of dysfunction. The subsequent appointed treasurer, Marisol Hughes, has fared little better in the job.

Democrats dumped Hughes and nominated Johnson to run for the two-year balance of Prussing’s term. Johnson faces Republican Ted Myhre.

via The News-Gazette

October 29, 2020 at 06:57AM

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