After contested election, a new resident leader for Lathrop Homes

A new president of the Lathrop Homes Local Advisory Council has been named after weeks of wrangling over allegations of election improprieties.

Long time resident Robert Davidson will lead the LAC, which addresses residents' concerns at the Chicago Housing Authority development.

Former council president Juanita Stevenson had challenged the election results, saying many house-bound voters didn't receive absentee ballots and ballots weren't available in Spanish for Lathrop's many Hispanic residents.

"They disrespected the Hispanic residents of Lathrop Homes," says Stevenson. "They've been disenfranchised."

But Earline Russell, a nine-year Lathrop resident, says she's satisfied with the result. 

"I'm happy. Very happy," she says. "He [Davidson] deserves it. He deserves to win."

The election was administered by Alexis Bivens Ltd., a contractor selected by the Central Advisory Council, the umbrella group for CHA resident councils.

"This contractor made so many mistakes across all of the developments," says Stevenson.

Sandra Bivens, president of Alexis Bivens Ltd., said previously that interpreters were available on the day of the election for those residents who needed them. Bivens was not available by phone today.

Davidson says he's glad the controversy is over.

"I thought it would be an insult to the people to have them do the election again," says Davidson. "I'm grateful that the people didn't have to go through that again."

But Stevenson says she plans to continue the challenge. She's working with a lawyer to see what can be done about the election results.

"I haven't given up on it yet," says Stevenson.  "What they did to the Hispanic voters, to Lathrop's voters, is wrong."

Staff Writer Megan Cottrell covers public housing for the Daily News. She can be reached at 773-362-5002, ext. 12, or megan [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.

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