Calumet City elected officials face off in Democratic primary in 29th House District

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A phony website that disparages a challenger and a federal probe into the campaign finances of the incumbent are highlighting the Democratic primary in the 29th House District.

Incumbent state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, who has represented the district since 2011, is being challenged in the June 28 contest by Calumet City 2nd Ward Ald. Monet Wilson.

Jones is the first Black mayor in Calumet City’s history, while Wilson is the first Black woman elected alderman in the city. With no Republican candidate filed, the duel between Jones and Wilson may determine who represents the district.

Both were elected to their city offices last spring. Before his election as mayor, Jones was the first Black alderman of the suburb’s 3rd Ward.

State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, is being challenged in the Democratic primary in the 29th House District by Monet Wilson, a Calumet City alderwoman. (Jeff Vorva / for Daily Southtown)

Calumet City Ald. Monet Wilson is challenging incumbent state Rep. Thaddeus Jones in the Democratic primary in the 29th House District. (Monet Wilson)

The district includes parts of Chicago’s South Side as well as all or parts of Calumet City, Crete, Dolton, Ford Heights, Glenwood, South Holland, Steger and Thornton.

The new district map stretches the 29th farther south along Interstate 57, including communities such as Manteno and Momence and touching Kankakee.

In early April, the Chicago Tribune reported that Jones is under federal criminal investigation for tax issues involving his campaign funds.

The U.S. attorney’s office issued a grand jury subpoena in January to the Illinois State Board of Elections seeking records on three campaign funds controlled by Jones, the Tribune reported.

The subpoena, dated Jan. 7, was pursuant to an “official criminal investigation” and sought quarterly campaign reports dating back to 2015 for the funds “Jones for Mayor,” “Jones for State Representative,” and “Citizens for Jones,” which is a political action committee that Jones heads, the Tribune reported, noting the FBI is the underlying investigative agency on the probe.

Jones at the time of the April report declined to comment to the Tribune.

He did not respond to requests from the Daily Southtown to discuss his reelection campaign in the 29th district.

While Jones has not been charged with any crime, Wilson said she believes he should be temporarily suspended from his duties as a state representative while the investigation continues.

She likens the situation to a police officer or school official accused of misconduct and being placed on paid administrative leave.

Wilson said her campaign has faced headwinds including a bogus website created in March that at first glance appears to support her candidacy but disparages her.

Among the postings, it alleges that Wilson “has stood with Clerk Nyota Figgs and joined court action designed to enable the destruction of city records sought by a financial audit.” Figgs, Calumet City’s clerk, has accused Jones of bullying her and creating a hostile work environment.

“It’s hard fighting a lie because there is no truth there,” Wilson said.

Her campaign’s official website is wilson4staterep.com. Jones’ campaign website is www.thaddeusjonesforstaterep.com.

Wilson said during her campaign she has heard about issues resonating through Illinois, including worries about inflation and high gas prices along with crime rates.

“People are afraid,” she said of instances of crime.

Better access to mental health care, particularly for youth who become entangled in the criminal court system, as well as access to food are other priorities for her if elected, Wilson said.

“We have communities that don’t have a corner store to get basic groceries,” she said.

Issues such as inflation and gas prices are not easily influenced by Illinois’ General Assembly, Wilson said, but she noted that divisive politics in the state have been an obstacle to advancing efforts to help residents in many areas.

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“We need to get back to some common decency, politically speaking, in Illinois,” Wilson said.

Her mother, Maureen Forte, was elected in spring 2007 as East Hazel Crest’s first Black female trustee. Forte is also president of the East Hazel Crest Library Board.

Wilson, 45, and her husband, Courtland Wilson, operate Tomorrow’s Youth Foundation in Calumet City, which supports academic and athletic programs, including the Calumet City Chargers Youth Football and Cheer Program. They have two sons.

Wilson says her full-time occupation is serving as alderwoman, and that she and her husband have operated a graphic design and sports apparel business.

Her Friends of Monet committee to elect her to the House was created Feb. 10 of this year and showed no receipts, expenses or available cash at the end of the first quarter.

Jones recorded first quarter contributions of $32,300 and available cash of $52,000 at the end of March. His committee had, since filing the first quarter report, realized more than $19,000 in additional contributions.

mnolan@tribpub.com

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June 20, 2022 at 10:55PM

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