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Hearing Officer: Bounce Epton From Primary

January 14, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ Republican Bernard Epton should be barred from the mayoral primary because he lacks valid petition signatures, an election board hearing officer recommended Tuesday.

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners was expected to act on the ruling later this week, but Epton has already pledged not to appeal his exclusion from the Feb. 24 GOP primary.

Epton had only 2,665 valid signatures, far short of the 3,100 names needed to gain a spot on the ballot, said hearing officer Sam Ruffalo.

Epton, who lost to Mayor Harold Washington in a racially divisive contest in 1983, submitted 3,900 names, but many of the people were not registered city voters. Washington, a Democrat, is the city’s first black mayor.

Epton did not attend the hearing Tuesday, but in a statement released by his attorney, Stanley Stewart, said he was ″saddened by the ruling.″

″I can only express my sincere appreciation to the many volunteers who spent a considerable amount of time and money on my behalf,″ Epton said.

On Monday, he blamed himself for the invalid signatures.

″If a person does not have sufficient valid signatures of registered voters, neither he nor she is entitled to a place on the ballot,″ Epton said at the time.

If Epton is eliminated, the Republican primary would feature Donald Haider, a university professor and longtime Democrat; businessman Kenneth R. Hurst; police officer Chester R. Hornowski; and professional clown Raymond G. Wardingly.

On the Democratic ticket, Washington faces former Mayor Jane Byrne and Sheila Jones, a follower of political extremist Lyndon LaRouche.

Alderman Edward Vrdolyak, chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee, is bypassing the Democratic primary to run as the Illinois Solidarity Party candidate in the April 7 general election.

Cook County Assessor Thomas Hynes, another prominent Democrat, is shedding his party label to run in the general election under the Chicago First banner.

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