Fifth ward campaigns argue over laws

Ann Marie Miles and Leslie Hairston are facing off in an effort to follow laws to the letter.

By Jonathan Lai

With the aldermanic elections only two weeks away, two campaigns in the fifth ward are facing off in an effort to follow laws to the letter.

A few weeks ago, candidate Ann Marie Miles said incumbent Leslie Hairston’s office had called the landlord of Miles’s office to say she would report Miles to the building inspectors for not meeting zoning codes. She moved to a new space. Now, a fifth ward resident has reported that Hairston’s campaign materials were illegally put in mailboxes.

Residents at 1700 East 56th Street, a high-rise apartment, said they received campaign materials from Hairston’s office in their mailboxes on January 28. According to federal law, only postal workers may place objects in mailboxes, and all items must have paid postage.

According to Carole Parks, a spokesperson for Hairston, the materials were “walk cards,” professionally produced materials designed for distribution by hand.

“With volunteers, they’re very eager. A lot of them don’t know [the rules], and they do stuff you would never dream of doing,” Parks said.

Parks, herself a resident of the building, said that she had talked to other residents, who confirmed that they received the cards, but she could find no explanation regarding their origins.

According to building resident Richard Gill, who posted about the cards on the Hyde Park Progress blog, the management of the building was notified, and the weekly bulletin included a notice about placing materials in mailboxes that week.

Miles spoke out against the alleged federal crime.

“I just don’t like [that Leslie’s] campaign has not been run… according to the highest ethical standards, [so] I was disappointed,” Miles said.

Miles said that after hearing about the cards, she reiterated the rules to her staff. “I think that we should all follow the rules…. I’m trying to make sure that my campaign staff does follow all the rules,” she said.

“The only contact we’ve really had come from her office was when I had my first office on 71st Street. Within 48 hours after opening up… she called the landlord and said, ‘If you don’t get this campaign office out of here, I will send the building inspectors upon you,’” Miles said. “So because I didn’t want everybody to get in trouble, I moved my office to what was Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s old office.”

Last week, Parks said that Miles’s campaign was focusing on the wrong issues and that her campaign should be more positively focused.

“She’s a novice, and all these little things she’s talking about are just little things that if you’re going to run for office, [will come up],” Parks said. “Stand on your issues. We’re not having a campaign over here about stuffing boxes. It’s about ‘Here’s what I stand for.’”