Holmes apologizes after using city email for candidate endorsement


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) at a City Council meeting. Holmes apologized for using a city email to endorse Robin Rue Simmons for 5th Ward alderman at a City Council meeting Monday night.

Kristina Karisch, Assistant City Editor

Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) publicly apologized for using a city email to announce her endorsement of Robin Rue Simmons for 5th Ward alderman at a City Council meeting Monday night.

Her apology follows allegations of ethics violations leveled at Holmes and Simmons throughout the election campaign by various residents, including Carolyn Murray, who is also running for 5th Ward alderman. Murray and Simmons moved on from the field of five candidates in last month’s primary with the most votes and will face off in the general election on April 4.

At Monday’s meeting, Holmes said she did not realize her email would be sent to everyone on her mailing list, and apologized for any confusion it may have caused. She added that she did not intend for the endorsement to be sent through her official email, which was not marked with the city seal, but did include the 5th Ward logo Holmes has used in newsletters.

“I have never intentionally done anything unethical in my life,” Holmes said. “I waited until all of the forums … that involved 5th Ward candidates (were held) to make any kind of statement.”

During citizen comment, Murray also raised questions about the cancellation of last Tuesday’s Board of Ethics meeting, which was rescheduled for after the election. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said the city moved the meeting because it could not achieve a quorum — the number of committee members needed for a vote to take place.

“There were at least three citizens’ complaints and concerns in regards to the unethical violations directly related to this election,” Murray said. “Those citizens who raised the issues — especially if they pertained to the election — should have been allowed to be heard prior to the election.”

Allegations of ethics violations have been raised at various times throughout the campaign. Most recently, two 5th Ward residents, Sophia and Thomas Jenkins, sued Simmons over allegedly abandoning a home-renovation contract.

The lawsuit concerns renovations Simmons had been hired to perform on their house in 2012, when she owned now-defunct construction company Signature Construction Services, Inc. The company was involuntarily dissolved in 2014, according to state documents.

The lawsuit asks for Simmons to pay the pair nearly $65,000 in damages, for what court documents describe as renovations done in a “negligent and/or unworkmanlike manner.”

Simmons said she saw the lawsuit as a “political hit,” because of its filing so close to the election. She said the Jenkinses issued several additional orders for work, which she had planned to charge for.

“There was a cost for the additional work that (Thomas Jenkins) didn’t agree to pay for,” Simmons said. “At that time, I stopped working.”

At the same City Council meeting, officials voted to approve a loan for Kabul House, an Afghan restaurant scheduled to open at 2424 Dempster St. — the former site of Chicken and Waffles. The $50,000 loan will cover costs associated with the restaurant’s buildout.

Though the committee ended up approving the loan, Ald. Mark Tendam (6th) — who is running for mayor — voted against it, saying it “sets a bad example.” He added that the loan would encourage other businesses to apply for money they did not necessarily need.

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Twitter: @kristinakarisch