This article has been corrected to reflect the correct number of signatures turned in and validated.
Madison Mayoral hopeful Toriana Pettaway is remaining stoic and ready to fight despite being excluded from the ballot Tuesday.
Pettaway was deemed to be two nomination signatures short of being part of April’s mayoral race. Candidates are required to have 200 signatures certified by the Madison city clerk’s office in order to be eligible.
Late on Wednesday night, Pettaway was informed by city clerk Eric Christianson that she had 198 of the 200 required valid signatures.
Pettaway insists that she submitted far more signatures than the 200 required and that she is confident she will be able to file affidavits that show she has enough to qualify for the February 19 primary. Pettaway said the city clerk told her that he wasn’t able to read the address or handwriting on one signature that was submitted and that others were missing a date. Pettaway will challenge the denial of those signatures and, if successful, may be able to continue her run for mayor.
In an interview with Madison365 on Thursday afternoon, Pettaway said that she initially turned in 124 signatures a week ago, believing she only needed to collect 100, and that Christianson accepted them. She said he then emailed later to say she needed 200, so she and volunteers continued to collect them for the remainder of the period before the deadline.
Scans of signature forms from the clerk’s office indicate that she actually turned in 119 a week ago, of which six were deemed invalid because the signers didn’t live within the city of Madison, leaving 113 valid signatures. On Wednesday, she turned in another 98, of which 13 were deemed invalid – 12 because the signers did not live in the city of Madison and one because the signer did not include the date signed. That left 198 valid signatures and just one — the one signed with no date — that could be fixed by affidavit.
Still, Petaway is undeterred.
“I’m contesting everything. I’m thinking there’s something missing,” Pettaway told Madison365. “There’s just no way in hell. I turned in 123 the first day and then I collected 79. Then I went out and did two more sheets which put me well over what I needed. So there’s no way in hell I’m lacking that many.”
Pettaway said that even with the city clerk dismissing 16 signatures from residents who reside in the Town of Madison (as opposed to the City of Madison), she still is over the 200-signature requirement.
Pettaway, while not directly accusing anyone of anything, is wondering if one of her sheets was perhaps misplaced or if, more insidiously, she is being singled out.
“I can’t let this ride,” she said. “Because I know I should have had enough even if they invalidated 16 signatures. So I gotta continue. I definitely have to figure this out.”
In her position with the Department of Civil Rights in Madison, Pettaway has had her share of conflicts. Earlier on Thursday, Pettaway sent an email to media calling her exclusion “some white supremacist BS.” While she stopped short of saying as much to Madison365, Pettaway made it clear that there might be some forces around the city trying to make sure she is not in the mayoral race.
“I wouldn’t put anything past anyone. That’s my thing,” Pettaway said. “I’m just gonna work my ass off because one signature is just missing a simple date. And I’d need an affidavit for that. Two other ones I’m gonna have to check the addresses with the city assessor’s office.”
Pettaway said that if the city clerk had called her instead of sending an email she would have had time to fix the situation and submit 200 valid signatures. She said it was frustrating that she wasn’t contacted in a more direct way for something this important, particularly since she believes she would have been able to resolve it.
But Pettaway is far from giving up.
“I’m encouraged. I’m not defeated,” she said.