The youngest hopeful in the Chicago mayoral race has ended his campaign, citing having to use his resources to fight political games.
“After speaking with advisers and family over the holiday, I am humbly stepping aside and withdrawing from the race completely,” Ja’Mal Green said in announcing the end of his campaign Dec. 31. “With over 50 days left, we don’t feel we can run a winning campaign with minimal resources.”
Green, 23, said the petition challenge he was dragged through the past few weeks is something he would not wish on any campaign.
“After collecting over the required number of signatures, the (Chicago) Board of Elections lost our petition sheets and claimed they accidentally gave me someone else’s,” Green said. “The Board of Elections hires (state House Speaker Michael) Madigan’s helpers, many of whom are unequipped to make decisions that affect major races. They said my own mother’s signature was not her signature on my petition.”
During the trying petition challenge, he said, he was assaulted by fellow candidate Dr. Willie Wilson’s campaign manager and watched how everyday people drown in a system designed for the rich and powerful.
“Willie Wilson’s tactics drained our campaign of money, but they couldn’t drain us of our fight,” Green said. “This process has cost us tens of thousands of dollars to continue and so close to the voting time we are not well-equipped for this dirty style of fighting. My desire to be a voice for the people was no match for Dr. Wilson’s dirty dollars.”
Scott Winslow, campaign spokesman for Wilson, had no comment on Green’s statements.
After Wilson’s challenge, Green withdrew his petitions and was going to run as a write-in candidate. However, discussions with advisers and family led him to abandon the campaign entirely.
He said he feels accomplished for the changes he has helped bring about over the past few years as an activist “from unseating (Cook County State’s Attorney) Anita Alvarez to forcing our current mayor to pass police reform and supply body cameras and tasers, getting a conviction for (Chicago police Officer Jason) Van Dyke, and (Mayor) Rahm (Emanuel) realizing he outwore his stay and choosing not to seek re-election.”
He said as the youngest candidate in the race a lot of people laughed at his ambition but that he turned naysayers into believers.
“They saw a kid till they heard our policies, our commitment, over 12,500 signatures we gathered and our love for this city we call home,” Green said. “I have watched seasoned candidates take the fresh ideas and insight I brought to this race and embrace them as their own.”
“Unfortunately, we live in a political system that puts money over policy, and I got to experience that firsthand. People like Willie Wilson have used loopholes in our policies to keep viable candidates out of the race, neglecting to give our people the fighting chance they deserve.
“I will admit I came into this race a little too optimistic about the process. In my heart, I held the idea of democracy and that all voices could be heard; and I’ve realized that in this city it’s only the voices with money that matter.”
Green said he will be working on behalf of progressive aldermanic candidates, as well as trying to change the election process and ensuring the city’s next mayor possesses the values and policies needed to move the city forward.
“I will not stop trying to make this city safe for all, to make sure every neighborhood has economic development to create jobs, to make sure schools in Englewood are just as good as schools in Ravenswood, to make sure that police officers are held accountable when they do wrong and supported in their endeavors to do right, and finally to make sure that everyone has a fair shot in our city, including those in our criminal justice system and those re-entering society,” Green said.