A 36-year-old Berwyn man who was charged with damaging VHS tapes at the Riverside Public Library two years ago has filed to run for Congress in the 3rd Congressional district in the Green Party primary.
Richard B. Mayers has run for office frequently. He tried to run against Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in the 9th Congressional district in the Democratic primary in 2002, but was removed from the ballot. He ran against Bill Lipinksi, the father of U.S. Rep Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) in the 3rd District Democratic primary in 2000 and in 1998 lost a race for state representative. In 1993 he lost a race for a seat on the Berwyn City Council.
According to published reports Mayers has been associated with white supremacist Matt Hale who is now in federal prison after being convicted of threatening a federal judge.
Mayers filed to run in the Green Party primary. The Green Party is a third party that focuses on ecological issues, social justice and grassroots democracy. It generally considered a left-of-center party.
Mayers’ opponent in the Green Party primary is Jerome Pohlen. Pohlen, a 43-year-old editor, also lives in Berwyn. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer and currently serves as a trustee of the Berwyn Public Library. Pohlen is the author of 11 travel books, including “Oddball Illinois, A Guide to Some Really Strange Places” as well as Oddball books on eight other states.
Pohlen says that Mayers has no connection to the Green Party.
“He’s not a member of the Green Party,” said Pohlen.
An official of the Illinois Green Party agrees.
“We have an endorsed candidate,” said Phil Huckleberry, chair of the Illinois Green Party’s government and elections committee. “Mr. Mayers isn’t a party member and has not sought to work with the party at all. Based on my understanding of positions that he has taken in the past, his positions are not remotely in line with ours.”
Two Green Party members have objected to the authenticity of Mayers’s nominating petition signatures in an attempt to knock him off the ballot.
“There are numerous potential problems with his nominating petitions,” said Huckleberry, who added that it appeared that some of his signatures sheets were cut and pasted and photocopied.
Mayers himself has filed objections to the nominating petitions of 16 candidates, including Pohlen, Lipinski, and a host of other candidates in a variety of races. Mayers’ objections are filed on loose leaf notebook paper, according to Huckleberry.
The Illinois State Board of Elections has yet to rule on any of the objections.
Riverside Library run-in
In July 2005, Mayers was charged with two misdemeanors, disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property after he allegedly confessed to damaging five videotapes that dealt with the Holocaust at the Riverside Library.
The case against Mayers was dropped when library officials failed to appear in court. Riverside Library Director Janice Fisher said that she was not aware of the court date.
“It was an oversight on our part, but it wasn’t intentional,” said Fisher, who signed the complaint against Mayers.
Mayers was charged with damaging videos of three episodes of the NBC miniseries “Holocaust,” a video titled “Anne Frank Remembered” and “Memories of Kristallnacht,” according to Fisher.
Acting Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said that Mayers made anti-Semitic statements at the time of his arrest and signed a written statement confessing to his involvement in the destruction of the tapes. According to Weitzel, Mayers told police that he damaged the Anne Frank tape because the movie did not “give the other side.”
Fisher said that Mayers had visited the Riverside Library in previous years and had urged the library to carry a periodical called “The Truth at Last” which espouses white supremacist views.
Mayers didn’t want to talk about the incident when asked about it.
“The case was dismissed and I have no comment on that,” said Mayers.
Mayers also did not want to talk about his alleged neo-Nazi or anti-Semitic views.
“I’d rather have no comment on that,” said Mayers. “It doesn’t serve my interests to comment on things like this in your newspaper.”
Mayers said he is not currently working and said that he once worked around a race track.
In August of this year Mayers was found in the Niagara River near Niagara Falls, New York, after a 20-hour search when his abandoned car was found near the river, according to a story in the Niagara Gazette newspaper. According to the story, Mayers was evasive upon being found in the river and insisted on having a lawyer present during questioning. The story states that Mayers was sent to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center for a mental evaluation.
Mayers said that he was found on the bank of the river and he implied that he had swum across the river to Canada. He also said that this summer he was ticketed for trying to swim to Ellis Island from New Jersey.
White supremacist in GOP primary
Mayers is not the only candidate who has filed to run in the 3rd Congressional district who has espoused white supremacist and neo-Nazi views. Art Jones of Chicago, who was defeated by Ray Wardingley in the 2006 Republican primary, is again seeking the Republican nomination.
Jones is being opposed by Michael Hawkins, a real estate broker from Bridgeview and a member of Lyons Township Republican organization. Wardingley, who earlier said he would be running in the Feb. 5 GOP primary, has dropped out of the race.
In a press release, Wardingley endorsed Hawkins and stated he withdrew because he did not wish to split the vote against Jones.
In the Democratic primary incumbent Lipinski faces three challengers in Mark Pera, the president of the Lyons Township High School Board of Education; Jerry Bennett, the longtime mayor of Palos Hills; and Jim Capparelli, a lawyer from Chicago.