Many candidates lost ballot disputes for local elections on April 4, but only Donna Ayres of Cahokia alleges injury on top of the insult.
Ayres claims that Commonfields water district employee Melba Sanders cut her face three times on March 4, at a home in Alorton.
“I still have a deep cut in my chin,” she said on March 21.
Alorton Police Chief Gerald Crenshaw said on Tuesday that he believes his department is “nearing completion of the investigation.”
Ayres and William Williams, on the Right for Cahokia ticket, currently campaign as write-in candidates for the water district board.
They circulated petitions for ballot status, but objectors declared the petitions deficient and local officials sustained the objections.
Ayres, Williams and 32 others registered as write-in candidates for seats across St. Clair County.
“The write-ins are your good people that know something’s up,” she said.
In a recent interview, the head of the county’s Republican organization Doug Jameson observed that the unusually high number of ballot challenges in St. Clair County in the upcoming election are in line with what appears to be “a concerted effort across the county,” orchestrated to benefit local Democratic organizations.
“After deterrence or intimidation, ballot challenges are the next step in the election process that a party uses to reduce the probability of an opposing party having candidates on the ballot,” he said.
While Ayres does not identify with either established political party, in recent years she has taken to grassroots activism in the village of Cahokia to battle what she and others have called local government running amok.
But her outspoken criticism of officials at the water district and at village hall has come at a price.
“You defy anybody in there, you get hurt,” she said.
Like the recent episode with getting cut in the face earlier this month, Ayres’ activism also made her a target during last year’s general election campaign, she told the Record in a previous interview.
For one thing, she had to repair her 1991 Ford pickup that was disabled by someone who stuffed dirt and grass in its radiator. The perpetrator also cut a belt engine for good measure.
As for getting booted off the April 4 ballot to represent the Commonfields of Cahokia Water District, Ayres said, “They knew if my name was out there, everybody would vote for me.”
Ayres has expressed outrage for how the district conducts business.
People in Cahokia can’t drink the water, she said. Instead, they have to buy filters or buy bottled water.
“(The water) will make you sick,” she said. “It causes heartburn.
“It makes you smell like Clorox.”
She further stated that, “You can’t cover up pesticides and herbicides.”
Regarding the incident on March 4, Ayres said it began with a visit to a friend in Alorton.
She said Sanders drove up, “out of the blue” and stopped her Escalade.
“I told her, let’s talk tomorrow,” Ayres said. “Words were said, both sides.
“She jumped out of the Escalade and I felt something brush my face.
“I laid into her. I wasn’t going to back down.
“We got in a scuffle and she left.”
She said Sanders, who had been a village trustee until January, collected $10,000 in salary for that position when she wasn’t a resident.
“She finally admitted she didn’t live in Cahokia,” Ayres said.
“Are we going to see the money? No.”
Calls seeking comment from Sanders were not returned.
Ayres said the people who objected to her candidacy and that of Williams “did everything possible to keep us from those seats.
“They stay in this big circle and it’s going to take a lot to clean it up,” she said.