If Leonard Johnson wants to become 7th Ward Alderman, the first thing he should do is quit his job with the City Treasurer. Current 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar resigned from the City Circuit Attorney’s Office before he announced running for alderman. And he made a very big deal about it during the campaign.
Johnson is Deputy Chief of Staff, management, a salaried position. He’s not on a clock. Staying on while running for alderman is unnecessary, bad publicity waiting to happen.
This issue is sure to attract more than a little attention because the City Treasurer, Tishaura Jones, is running for mayor. Her election is my political priority, and fast becoming my personal priority. We do not need distractions such as Leonard Johnson.
So why would Leonard Johnson do this? Is he that selfish? Doesn’t he get it? Is he actually trying to help another candidate for mayor? I don’t know the answer but I am leaning more and more toward the last.
Why doesn’t the City Treasurer fire Johnson or force him to take a leave of absence? I would think it has to do with the City Treasurer being a patronage office, not Civil Service. Patronage employees have First Amendment rights that Civil Service employees do not have. It’s not the first time a patronage office employee has run for alderman. In the case of the Treasurer’s office, however, it appears that employees have a right to run for public office without any restrictions.
Leonard Johnson told me that his boss initially resisted the idea of his running but was now OK with it. In reality, the City Treasurer cannot legally stop him from running or force him to quit or take a leave of absence. I am not even sure if there is such a thing as a three month leave of absence for other than medical/family leave.
There is huge difference between being OK with the decision of an employee and not being able to do anything about it. In my book, Johnson was not honest with me.
And this is a personnel issue with legal consequences, so I certainly understand why the Treasurer is not in a position to say much on the matter.
Leonard Johnson first approached me over two years ago about his interest in becoming alderman. Rumors were circulating that Alderwoman Phyllis Young wanted to retire, would resign, and there would be a special election. And then I didn’t hear back from him until recently. My guess was he was only interested in being alderman if there was no primary.
Leonard Johnson had two years to lay a foundation to run in 2017 against Jack Coatar and he didn’t do it. He had two years to become active in every neighborhood association, meet thousands of voters, understand the wants and needs of his would be constituents.
When he called me about running in 2017, he asked me for information on the Kosciusko neighborhood association. He wanted to be alderman and didn’t know Kosciusko is the industrial tract in the ward. Again, he had two years to learn 7th Ward 101. He made no effort.
But Leonard Johnson doesn’t really want to be alderman. That’s part of the problem here. His boss is running for mayor. He figures there are coattails. He figures at least one organization that will go door to door for him. He figures the 7th Ward Committeewoman and Committeeman can be bullied into endorsing him. He doesn’t really like city politics but he wants to be a state senator. That’s what is going on. He thinks becoming alderman puts him in play to replace term limited Jamilah Nasheed. I really wonder where this ridiculous idea came from. It’s quite a leap from alderman to state senator, almost as big as from state senator to mayor.
Johnson was scheduled to work the 7th Ward’s Sigel School polling place on General Election Day. He was supposed to hand out the 7th Ward Independent Democrat‘s sample ballot and Draft Tishaura flyers. 7th Ward Independent Democrats was making its endorsement of Jones for mayor early morning on election day. We wanted to be the first ward endorsement.
Johnson was given instructions to hand out ballots as people went into polling place and Draft Tishaura flyers as they came out. After the election, I found out Johnson had been handing out the ward sample ballot and his own campaign literature, not the Draft Tishaura flyers. He was basically using us to campaign for himself. Yes. Why on earth would I think he is either very selfish or helping another mayoral candidate, or both?
The 7th Ward needs a good candidate against Jack Coater. Unfortunately, that is not Leonard Johnson. Fortunately, filing just opened Monday and I am optimistic that a real choice will be on the ballot.
–Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman