Chicago's City Vote Includes Four Former Felons

Ex-felons, and their hopes for redemption, will be on the ballot in Chicago Tuesday, when voters will elect a mayor and other city officials.

Four former aldermen who were convicted on public corruption charges while in office have campaigned for their old jobs in an attempt to resurrect their political lives.

Two still have that chance; the State Supreme Court ruled the others two ineligible, although their names remain on the city's ballots, which were printed before the decision was rendered. Chicago City hall is a familiar stomping ground for federal prosecutors. Just last month, one of the city's 50 aldermen was indicted. And over the past two decades, at least 18 current or former aldermen have been found guilty of public corruption.

It is not unheard of for a convicted Chicago alderman to try to reclaim a city council seat.

As Paul Green, a Roosevelt University Political science professor, says, "Heck, we one time had an alderman who ran while he was in the slammer."

This election season, another notch was added to the city's list of dubious political distinctions. Four of the former felons announced they were running for office again.

But two of them — Virgil Jones and Ambrosio Medrano — were ruled ineligible after the state Supreme Court heard challenges to their campaigns. The court affirmed a law prohibiting convicted public officials from running for municipal seats.

Medrano, convicted of accepting bribes in the 1990s, says the decision should have been left up to the voters. In light of the Supreme Court ruling, either of the former felons is likely to face a legal challenge if they beat the odds and win.

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