3rd Ward Shenanigans

Victor Wogen beat Steve Kapitan for the 3rd Ward aldermanic seat by 14 votes. This was the day after a mysterious, anonymous mailer smearing Kapitan was delivered to all the households in the ward. Here is Mr. Wogen’s account yesterday:

Wogen denies any involvement with the production and distribution of the mailing, and said he did not know who sent it out. “There’s no animosity between Steve and myself,” he said. “I think he did a great job as alderman, but it was time for a change.”

Here’s Mr. Wogen today:

A day after saying he had nothing to do with a controversial campaign mailing delivered to 3rd Ward residents less than 24 hours before polls opened on Tuesday, the ward’s alderman-elect now admits he helped pay to have about 1,800 of them sent out – but claims he didn’t bother to read what was in them first.

Wogen says he didn’t read this campaign literature, yet he spent $300 to cover insufficient postage on a batch of it, and brought in a couple more bins full. The postal clerk remembers the transactions very clearly. Seems like a person who didn’t want to be associated with a smear campaign would send somebody else on those errands, especially since someone took the trouble to remove the codes that can be used to track the origins of that literature.

And the smear? The anonymous mailer claims that Kapitan is the “go-to guy in DeKalb” for Socialists, is “extremely pro-gay,” and that he’s guilty of house maintenance violations. The first claim is spurious, the second is in fact true as pertains to his voting record, and the third one requires clarification: Kapitan bought a house that was about to be condemned and has been working with the city to bring it up to code.

Wogen’s political action group, Citizens for a Better 3rd Ward, is not listed with the Illinois State Board of Elections although any group that raises or spends more than $3000 is required to do so under state law. Wogen says he spent $1,900 on his own color flyers, somebody spent another $1000 on postage in the smear campaign, and Wogen has so many yard signs that they’ve shown up in my 4th Ward neighborhood.

If the comments accompanying today’s Chronicle story are any indication, 3rd Ward residents want Wogen’s head. They’ll probably settle for his resignation.

In January 2003, Kapitan introduced a non-binding resolution to the DeKalb City Council calling on the U.S. not to make a pre-emptive military strike on Iraq. The resolution passed 4-3, but the mayor at the time, Greg Sparrow, refused to sign it.

Wogen and Johnson
Alderman-elect Victor Wogen with DeKalb City Clerk Donna Johnson Tuesday night at KJ’s bar, also said to be the hangout of former mayor Greg “The Keg” Sparrow. Many thanks to the Chronicle and photographer Curtis Clegg, who did not know it was Johnson when he snapped this one.