Metro-East News

Residents ask why so many people on April ballot are felons or face charges

Some who are on Tuesday’s municipal election ballot seeking political positions in the city and township have felony convictions or charges pending against them.

Residents have questioned whether this is a good thing.

Former resident Angela Lawson said she doesn’t think it’s good that convicted felons keep running for office. “They are not helping anybody or improving the conditions in East St. Louis. I would like to see this change. I want people in office who do not have a criminal past and who have the people’s interest at heart.”

Those candidates include:

▪  Raymond Bonds, who is seeking a seat on the East St. Louis Township Board. He was convicted of unlawful possession of narcotics and unlawful possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance in 1990. He served two years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

▪  June Hamilton Dean, a sitting city councilwoman who is seeking re-election. She recently was charged with forgery and public contractor misconduct. Hamilton Dean allegedly forged documents related to the employment of Reashunta Lacy.

▪  Nathaniel McCloud, Jr., who is seeking a seat as a township trustee, has a felony conviction for unlawful restraint.

▪  Michael D. Roberts, who is seeking a seat as township trustee, was charged with official misconduct for allegedly using township money to pay for a trip to Las Vegas. Federal investigators said he went to Las Vegas with former East St. Louis Township Supervisor Oliver Hamilton to attend a hydroponics seminar. The indictment says Roberts’ wife’s trip was paid for by taxpayers. Hamilton recently plead guilty in federal court and is awaiting sentencing for his theft from East St. Louis Township. Roberts has said he is not guilty.

▪  Edith Moore, a former precinct committeewoman and current township trustee, is seeking re-election. She is charged with forgery and prevention of candidate support. The indictment says Moore delivered a document to the St. Clair County clerk that she knew was altered that she knew was false. The indictment says the document that Moore altered was an email to James O’Neal, who is the uncle of Nathaniel McCloud Jr., who won Precinct 20 from Moore.

▪  Harry Hollingsworth, who is running for township clerk, has a felony conviction for unlawful use of a weapon in January 1974 and is currently awaiting trial on a perjury charge from December 2015.

▪  Charles R. Powell III, a candidate for City Council, had a case against him for driving under the influence of alcohol and carrying or transporting alcohol from 1979 and is currently awaiting a court trial for a perjury offense filed by the state.

None of these candidates could be reached for comment.

According to state law, people with felony convictions are prohibited from running for some, but not all, public offices. State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said should anyone be convicted of a felony while in office, he would seek to remove them.

Marion Spears Burks Moffitt, 78, said crime has gotten worse in the city, and it doesn’t help that people who have convictions run for office.

“I can not understand a city with so many talented, good, smart, intelligent people. How can they support felons and let the city go in the dump?”

At the end of the day, she said, “We are responsible for our destiny.”

Courtney Hoffman, who has run for office in the city,

said he believes everybody deserves second and even third chances. But, “The law clearly says anyone who is convicted of a felony cannot seek office. It’s clearly disrespectful of the law. If the law says it’s OK, then it’s OK. They throw their hands and hats in the ring like it does not matter. But, I guess it’s part of the Democratic process or the Democratic Party in East St. Louis,” he said.