Pension trustee incumbent Nancy Williams demands recount after narrow defeat by Lois Ashford

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) trustee Nancy Williams has requested a recount of the vote between her and candidate Lois Ashford, according to officials at the CTPF. Ashford was declared one of two winners on October 30, 2009, in the six-way race, after she received 4,842 votes to 4,799 votes for Williams. Williams was serving as a trustee at the time she was defeated by Ashford after a heated campaign. Williams was also recording secretary of the $10 billion fund.

Teachers trustee Nancy Williams (above, at the June meeting of the trustees of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund) was defeated by CORE candidate Lois Ashford by a narrow margin in the October 30, 2009 election. Williams has asked for a recount which will be held at the pension fund offices November 16. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The recount is scheduled to take place on November 16, so that the trustees can hold their scheduled monthly meeting on November 17, according to the Fund’s Executive Director Kevin Huber.

“Candidate Nancy Williams, in accordance with her rights under the Election Policies approved by the Board of Trustees, has requested a recount of the Teacher Trustee election that occurred on October 30,” Huber wrote in an e-mail response to a query from Substance. “She has also made a request for review of the uncounted provisional ballots and the uncounted multiple mark ballots.”

All candidates (not just Ashford and Williams) will be eligible to have representatives present to ensure that the recount is conducted properly, Huber added. The CTPF internal auditor will also be viewing the recount.

According to the CTPF Election Policy and Procedures Handbook: “A candidate in the affected Board member election may request the recount of an election only if the difference in the number of votes cast for the candidate requesting the recount and the unofficial winner is less than 3%. The candidate in the affected election must file a written request with the Executive Director for recount within three (3) business days following the certification of the election results.”

Huber said that the request for the recount had been made within the required time. The vote difference between Ashford and Williams is the only place where the difference is three percent or less. The top vote getter, Whitney Young High School teacher Jay Rehak, received 6,551 votes to the 4,799 votes of Williams.

Flanks by Jay Rehak and other members of CORE, Lois Ashford speaks before the October 28, 2009, Chicago Board of Education meeting. Ashford and Rehak won the vote and were elected teacher pension trustees as the top two vote getters in a six-way race, despite the fact that Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart put the union's resources behind her two hand-picked candidates, Nancy Williams and Reina Otero. Williams and Otero have never spoken at the meetings of the Chicago Board of Education, as Rehak and Ashford have. During the past two years, Ron Huberman, and before him Arne Duncan, tried to undermine the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund by claiming huge "deficits" and manipulating CPS finances to make the false case that the problems facing CPS were caused by teacher pension obligations. Rehak and Ashford were the only two pension candidates to challenge the Board and its attacks on the Chicago pension fund. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart announced the request for the recount on November 4 at the monthly meeting of the CTU House of Delegates. Marilyn Stewart tried twice to use her support for Williams. In a mailing paid for by Stewart's United Progressive Caucus (UPC) to all voters, Stewart asked voters to vote for Williams (and the other losing incumbent, Reina Otero), signing herself not Marilyn Stewart of the UPC, but Marilyn Stewart, President Chicago Teachers Union. After trying unsuccessfully to get the union's 900-member House of Delegates to support Williams and Otero at the union's October meeting, Stewart still did a mailing to all voters, indicating that Williams and Otero had the support of the CTU "Executive Board" (dominated by those appointed by Stewart and members of the UPC) even though the House had voted to endorse all six of the candidates as qualified.

Although the election was overseen by the CTPF, the actual operation of the election and the counting were done by Election Services Corporation of New York, which was hired by CTPF to do the election. At the time of the election, and before the results were known, several observers told Substance that the election was very well run. The procedures for the election to be followed by Election Services Corporation were also reviewed by the CTPF’s internal auditor and approved, according to CTPF officials.

The election for three trustees to represent retired teachers has been taking place by mail ballot during the same time period, according to CTPF officials. The count of the mail ballots for the retired teacher trustees is expected to be announced by November 10, 2009.

Trustees representing active duty teachers are elected by voting at all public schools (including charter schools) where teachers are members of the CTPF. Each school’s election is under the supervision of the school’s pension representative.

The results of the recount are promised prior to the regularly scheduled meeting of the trustees, which is November 17, 2009. 


November 8, 2009 at 12:44 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher

I am hopeful that the recount will be done in a fair and impartial manner and that the results will remain the same. Perhaps Williams will be defeated by a larger margin.

As a retired member, I am also very curious as to the results of our election.

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