Toni Preckwinkle challenges Susana Mendoza's petitions in Chicago mayoral race

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Lawyers for two candidates running for Chicago mayor faced off Friday at the Chicago Board of Elections.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is challenging thousands of signatures on Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza's mayoral petitions.

Preckwinkle's camp alleges that there is a pattern of fraud, duplicate signatures, signatures that don't match addresses and faulty page numbers. The accusations were presented to a Chicago Election Board hearing officer.

"You don't have to be a hand writing expert, you can tell the signatures on this page were written in the same hand," said Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, Preckwinkle's attorney.

The Mendoza campaign filed a motion seeking to dismiss all facets of Preckwinkle's challenge. A hearing officer agreed there is no pattern of fraud, but the other elements of Preckwinkle's challenge can proceed.

"We are satisfied with this result, I think it was a good ruling based on the law and we have the ability to go forward," Krafthefer said.

Mendoza originally asked for the entire Preckwinkle challenge to be thrown out, but is ready for the challenge.

"I would actually like for her not to withdraw her challenge to my candidacy, let's see this through. Chicago needs to see we will have more than enough signatures to be one of their choices for mayor," Mendoza said.

Exactly 12,500 signatures are needed to get on the ballot in February. Twenty-one people have submitted petitions to get on the ballot.

Preckwinckle's attorney says their challenge is about following the law, not about getting Mendoza off the ballot.

"The best-case scenario is that only qualified candidates are permitted to participate in this election, candidates who didn't wake up one morning and decide to run for mayor," Krafthefer said.

The next hearing for Preckwincke's Mendoza petition challenge is Sunday morning.

Preckwinckle is challenging the petitions of other candidates as well, including four African-American female candidates. Mendoza is calling on Preckwinckle to withdraw her challenges of those women.

Mendoza said she's not about to play nice when it comes to Preckwinkle's efforts to throw her off the mayoral ballot.

"I have the resources to stand up to her, and I'm gonna stand up to the big bully in the race," Mendoza said.
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