Elections

South Side Elections: Ward By Ward

Weekly writers break down the race for alderman in every South Side ward

Tyler Nickell

  • 3rd Ward (Bronzeville, South Loop, Washington Park, Englewood)
  • 4th Ward (Bronzeville, South Loop, Hyde Park)
  • 5th Ward (Hyde Park, South Shore, Woodlawn, Grand Crossing)
  • 6th Ward (Chatham, Park Manor, Englewood)
  • 7th Ward (South Shore, South Chicago, Jeffery Manor)
  • 8th Ward (Avalon Park, Calumet Heights, Burnside)
  • 9th Ward (Pullman, Roseland, Riverdale)
  • 10th Ward (East Side, South Chicago, Hegewisch)
  • 11th Ward (Bridgeport, Canaryville, University Village, Pilsen, Back of the Yards)
  • 12th Ward (McKinley Park, Little Village)
  • 13th Ward (Clearing, Garfield Ridge, West Lawn)
  • 14th Ward (Gage Park, Garfield Ridge, West Elsdon, Archer Heights)
  • 15th Ward (Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, Englewood)
  • 16th Ward (Englewood, Back of the Yards)
  • 17th Ward (Chicago Lawn, Englewood)
  • 18th Ward (Ashburn, Wrightwood, Scottsdale)
  • 19th Ward (Beverly, Morgan Park, Mount Greenwood)
  • 20th Ward (Woodlawn, Englewood, Back of the Yards)
  • 21st Ward (Auburn Gresham, Brainerd)
  • 22nd Ward (Little Village, Garfield Ridge)
  • 23rd Ward (Clearing, Garfield Ridge, Chicago Lawn)
  • 24th Ward (North Lawndale, Little Village)
  • 25th Ward (Pilsen, Chinatown, South Loop, West Loop, University Village)
  • 28th Ward (Garfield Park, South Austin, Tri-Taylor, University Village)
  • 34th Ward (Roseland, Washington Heights)
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3rd Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Pat Dowell has been alderman of the 3rd Ward since 2007, when she defeated longtime incumbent Dorothy Tillman, who had been in office since 1985. Dowell has strong union support, including from SEIU Healthcare Illinois and AFSCME Council 31. The 3rd Ward’s alderman answers to a diverse group of constituents across the Near South Side, Bronzeville, Fuller Park, and Washington Park. Over the past few years, Dowell has drawn both ire and praise from her constituents for her actions on transportation, including blocking a new CTA Red Line stop on 15th and Clark and asking the CTA Board to end the #31 bus route.

Dowell faces a challenge from Alexandria Willis, a newcomer to electoral politics, with a background as a policy analyst and nursing home safety advocate. Both candidates hail from Bronzeville, and they differ most notably on affordable housing and policing. Willis argues for more affordable housing throughout the ward, noting that the affordable housing units from the demolished State Street Corridor housing projects have yet to be fully replaced. In contrast, Dowell believes there is enough affordable housing in the 3rd, citing the fact that thirty percent of housing in the ward is categorized as public or subsidized, compared to 8.5 percent citywide. Dowell has also co-sponsored an ordinance that would require twenty percent of future public housing units to be built in low-poverty areas of the city. Dowell has successfully lobbied for an increased police presence in the ward, and worked to install ShotSpotter (a surveillance system that detects gunshots) in the 2nd Police District, which includes the southern chunk of the ward. Willis, meanwhile, strongly supports the creation of a Civilian Police Accountability Council and advocates for demilitarizing police, getting rid of the gang database, and “mov[ing] resources towards training police on crisis management, domestic violence, and community engagement.” Dowell and Willis are also divided over the fate of National Teachers Academy, a level 1+ elementary school serving mostly Black students. Willis has criticized Dowell for supporting the controversial plan—favored by wealthier white families on the Near South Side—to convert NTA into a South Loop high school. (Jasmine Mithani)

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4th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

With a zig-zag boundary that includes parts of the South Loop, Bronzeville, Kenwood, and northern Hyde Park, the 4th Ward launched the career of a young Toni Preckwinkle. Before becoming president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Preckwinkle served as the ward’s alderman for nearly twenty years, and is still the ward’s Democratic Committeeman. (She is now running for mayor.) The current alderman, Sophia King, was appointed by Rahm Emanuel in 2016, and has close ties to both Preckwinkle and the Obamas, who still own a house in the ward. Her opponent, real estate lawyer Ebony Lucas, contends that King is another inside player.

This is Lucas’s second time running against King; they previously faced off in a 2017 special election for the same office. At a recent forum, she cited the concentration of development in Hyde Park and Kenwood rather than Bronzeville, the closing of Michael Reese Hospital (despite the fact it was closed in 2009), and the near-closing of National Teachers Academy as evidence that King is simply rubber-stamping the mayor’s initiatives rather than advocating for her constituents. But King, who recently sponsored a resolution to explore reopening the city’s mental health clinics, contends that “parity is a priority,” and says she spent the past term listening to residents’ concerns.

King’s plans include increasing the number of spots open to neighborhood students at Jones College Prep (a selective admission school) and pushing residential developments to include affordable units. Lucas proposes removing public schools from TIF districts, repealing the existing city ordinance that bans the construction of tiny homes, increasing the number of police officers on foot in the neighborhood, and installing a civilian-appointed police oversight board. At the forum, the two candidates took opposing positions on aldermanic privilege, essentially the right of aldermen to have the final say on what is (or isn’t) built in their ward. Lucas insisted there’s no need for it as long as there’s a community-informed development plan. King countered that it’s the only way to ensure that the residents’ voices are heard. “I can’t push back against the administration, when needed, or represent our collective voice without it,” she said. (Carly Graf)

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5th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Leslie Hairston has successfully fended off a host of pretenders to the 5th Ward throne during her twenty-year tenure as alderman. This year, she faces two challengers: former Hyde Park Herald editor Gabriel Piemonte and activist William Calloway. Since he announced his candidacy last March, Piemonte has been active on social media, posting an extensive collection of position papers to his campaign website and hosting Facebook Live sessions to discuss thorny points of local policy. His campaign has emphasized the importance of deliberative democracy, proposing elected “local development councils” for each neighborhood that would have the final say on development projects.

When Calloway entered the race in November, Piemonte welcomed the competition: in a statement to the press, he wrote simply, “William Calloway is my brother, and I love him.” Calloway, who last year ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, has been a leader in the movement for police reform. He played an instrumental role in securing the release of the Laquan McDonald video and led protests outside the courthouse for the entirety of Jason Van Dyke’s trial.

The 5th Ward, which includes parts of Hyde Park, South Shore, Woodlawn, and Grand Crossing, has a storied legacy as a bastion of Chicago independent politics. Both Hairston and Piemonte lay claim to the mantle of former 5th Ward Alderman Leon Despres, whose legacy still haunts the contested space of Hyde Park progressivism. Hairston, though, is a political insider, closely allied with both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. She has recently taken flak for opposing a community benefits agreement for the Obama Presidential Center, as well as for her perceived absence in the protests that followed the killing of South Shore barber Harith “Snoop” Augustus by a police officer in July, protests in which Calloway was a particularly visible presence. (Gautama Mehta)

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6th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

In the 6th Ward, which covers Chatham, Park Manor, and a corner of Englewood, incumbent Alderman Roderick Sawyer (son of brief acting Mayor Eugene Sawyer) faces challenges from Richard Wooten, a pastor and former police officer, and accountant Deborah Foster-Bonner. Sawyer ousted Daley-appointed Alderman Freddrenna Lyle by just over a hundred votes in a 2011 runoff, going on to join the Progressive Caucus and head the Black Caucus. Despite his membership in the Progressive Caucus, he has supported Mayor Emanuel in key controversial maneuvers, including the closure of five Englewood high schools; the plan involves building a new mega-school on the site of Robeson High School, which is in Sawyer’s ward. Without his support, it likely would not have been approved.

Wooten, who ran twice for the position previously (and once for state representative), serves on the Community Advisory Council of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and is a frequent proponent of police reform and civilian oversight. He is running on a platform of improved public safety, small business development, and community involvement in ward-level decisions. The platform of Foster-Bonner, who is also the head of nonprofit Reunite Chatham, includes “community self-policing,” using TIF funds for ward schools, and better-organized ward services. (Sam Stecklow)

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7th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

The 7th Ward, which includes parts of South Shore, South Chicago, and Calumet Heights, will be choosing between incumbent Gregory Mitchell, who has been in office since 2015, and two challengers: community organizers Charles Kyle and Jedidiah Brown. Before becoming alderman, Mitchell was a financial analyst and manager of a corporate help desk, and he based his 2015 campaign on bringing excellent service to the ward office. According to Reclaim Chicago, he mostly self-financed his campaign last time around, and now sits on nearly $100,000 in campaign funds, though he’s also saddled with $56,000 of debt. In his Sun-Times candidate questionnaire, Mitchell emphasized the need for economic development, increasing home ownership, and decreasing crime via more focused policing. Brown, who ran for alderman in 2015 in the 5th Ward (he says he hasn’t moved but rather the 2011 ward redrawing put him in the 7th Ward), has raised around $6,000, while Kyle has raised none. Brown, a Baptist minister, has maintained a visible and vocal presence in Chicago movements for racial justice and been involved with groups such as Youth Leaders Alliance (which he founded) and JUSTICE. Kyle, meanwhile, works as a program director for a youth agency and has been involved in groups such as the Rainbow Park Beach Advisory Council and Growing Home, an Englewood-based urban agriculture initiative. At an aldermanic forum last week, which only he and Brown attended, Kyle addressed the need for development of high-end businesses along business corridors. Both Kyle and Brown have said they will implement participatory budgeting if elected. (Adam Przybyl)

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8th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Michelle Harris was appointed 8th Ward alderman by then-Mayor Daley in 2006. This year, she will face three challengers: educator and community activist Jewel Easterling-Smith, tax assistant and community organizer Linda Hudson, and former barber and real estate agent Faheem Shabazz, who ran for the position in 2011 and 2015. Harris, whose ward includes parts of Avalon Park, Greater Grand Crossing, and Burnside, had spent years in city government before becoming alderman, in positions like chief of staff for former 8th Ward Alderman Lorraine Dixon and 8th Ward Streets and Sanitation superintendent, and mentioned her work with striking hotel workers and the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund to promote businesses in her Sun-Times candidate profile.

Both Esterling-Smith and Hudson, however, have criticized Harris for playing a part in covering up Laquan McDonald’s shooting, perhaps drawing on the Chicago Crusader’s report that eight Black aldermen may have been paid by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in order to stay silent about the video footage. Their emphasis on transparency is even more poignant in light of Harris’ response to the news that 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis wore a wire to assist the FBI’s investigation into fellow Alderman Ed Burke. Harris told the Sun-Times she was disheartened by Solis’ actions because, she said, we’re “a family down here.”

All three challengers say they have been involved in community organizations in recent years: Easterling-Smith founded Adopt My Block, about which there is little information online; Hudson is a founding member of the Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition, a position she has used to successfully block a medical cannabis dispensary from opening, close a methadone clinic, and unsuccessfully block a senior affordable housing development; and Shabazz founded a “Stop the Killing” initiative. Financially, the race is rather lopsided: Easterling-Smith hasn’t raised any money, and Shabazz doesn’t have an active campaign committee, meaning he can’t fundraise. Hudson, who’s received the endorsement of progressive group Brand New Council, has raised a little over $3,000. Meanwhile, Harris is sitting on over $300,000 which, according to Reclaim Chicago’s Fair Elections website, comes mostly from large corporations and developers. (That’s not even counting the nearly $120,000 in her ward account.) (Adam Przybyl)

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9th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Longtime alderman Anthony Beale is seeking his sixth term in the 9th Ward, which covers Roseland, Pullman, and Riverdale. The other candidates in the race are social worker and organizer Cleopatra Watson, police officer Paul Collins, and consultant Essie Hall. Of these three, Collins is the only challenger with money in his campaign fund, most of which he donated to himself. On his website, Collins encourages voters to read a Chicago Crusader article claiming that Beale was one of several Black alderman who took money from Rahm Emanuel in exchange for voting to pay a settlement to the McDonald family after the murder of Laquan McDonald (a move apparently intended to keep the shooting out of the spotlight).

That said, Beale has been a vocal critic of the police department in the past few years, calling out misconduct and emphasizing the need for reform, including changes to CPD’s hiring practices, which Beale says discriminate against Black and Latinx job-seekers. All four candidates support the police consent decree, and Collins highlights the importance of the Officer Friendly program in building better relationships between police and the community. Watson has named securing affordable housing options and combating food insecurity among her priorities for the ward. Hall told the Sun-Times she wants to direct TIF funds to uses that “meet economic needs relevant to ALL constituents of the ward.”  (Ellen Mayer)

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10th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza is running for re-election in the 10th Ward, which includes most of the Far Southeast Side, including Hegewisch, the East Side, South Deering, and parts of South Chicago. Garza, a former school counselor at Jane Addams Elementary in the East Side and the daughter of a well-known labor organizer, narrowly ousted John Pope (a Daley and Emanuel ally) in 2015 to become the first member of the Chicago Teachers Union elected to City Council. She’s running on her record of promoting citizen involvement in ward decision-making, including launching a participatory budgeting process. Her campaign has emphasized the importance of creating good jobs through projects like the new industrial park at 116th Street and Avenue O. She’s also led the push for stricter city regulations on industrial facilities that generate toxic manganese dust, which is just one of the latest environmental threats to the residents of the heavily industrial ward. She faces Bobby Loncar, an attorney and president of the East Side Chamber of Commerce and Southeast Chicago Dog Park Committee. Loncar has criticized Garza for failing to spark development in the ward’s commercial districts and supports stronger legislation to control manganese. (Sam Joyce)

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11th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

The latest scion of the Daley family, Patrick Daley Thompson, is seeking his second term as alderman of the 11th Ward. The ward includes Bridgeport, the family’s historic power base, as well as Canaryville and parts of Pilsen, Chinatown, and University Village. Despite the ward’s history, Thompson only eked out a narrow victory in 2015 after being forced into a runoff against law student John Kozlar (now in a longshot race for mayor). This year, he faces David Mihalyfy, an assisted living aide and labor activist who was involved in the successful unionization of graduate students and student library workers at the University of Chicago.

Thompson is running on his record of attracting new businesses, such as Lakeshore Beverage and Greyhound, to the ward. One of those new businesses, however, has become a point of contention in the election. Daley has celebrated the new Starbucks planned for 31st & Halsted, but his opponent has criticized the below-market sale of city land for the project as “subsidizing a rich developer.” That same developer, Glazier Corp., has contributed to Thompson’s campaign fund. This is not the only financial question surrounding Thompson’s campaign; the 11th Ward Regular Democratic Organization (RDO), controlled by Thompson’s uncle, John P. Daley, received an $80,000 loan from the Washington Federal Bank for Savings in October 2017. In mid-December of that year, bank president John F. Gembara committed suicide and the bank was shut down by federal regulators after they discovered “massive fraud.” Between October and June 2018, the 11th Ward RDO did not make a single payment on that loan, and it is unclear whether the RDO ever intended to. Thompson and Mihalyfy, however, have not yet had a chance to discuss these and other issues facing the ward. Thompson skipped a candidate forum hosted by the Bridgeport Alliance and the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community in January, and another forum has not yet been scheduled. (Sam Joyce)

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12th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Alderman George Cardenas is running for re-election in the 12th Ward, which covers the majority of McKinley Park, as well as parts of Brighton Park and Little Village. Cardenas ran unopposed in 2015, after managing to knock his challengers off the ballot. This year, however, Cardenas faces three challengers who have overcome objections to their ballot petitions: Pete DeMay, Jose Rico, and Martha Rangel.

Pete DeMay is a union organizer who lives in McKinley Park. He has called for a “Green New Deal” for Chicago, making the environment and jobs centerpieces of his campaign. DeMay previously ran against Cardenas in 2015, but was booted from the ballot after a number of signatures on his petition were invalidated.

Little Village resident José Rico is a former CPS principal and now a senior vice president of community investment at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. He briefly worked for the Obama Administration during the president’s first term, serving as the executive director of the White House Initiative On Educational Excellence For Hispanics. Rico’s policy platform calls for renewed investment in healthcare, education, jobs, and housing—with the overarching aim of reducing inequality and violence. Martha Rangel has worked in early childhood education and also lives in McKinley Park, but information on her policies is scarce.

In his campaign, Cardenas points to his success in bringing infrastructure improvements, new businesses, and playgrounds to the 12th Ward. However, his critics take issue with the alderman’s close ties to developers. Recently, Cardenas attracted controversy when the MAT Asphalt plant was constructed on the southern edge of McKinley Park without public notice. Residents and environmental justice advocates wondered whether donations Cardenas received from businesses connected to the plant’s owner, Michael Tadin Jr., and to Tadin’s father, Michael Tadin Sr., played a role. (Joshua Falk & Ian Hodgson)

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13th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

The 13th Ward is a majority-Latinx ward that wraps around — but does not include — Midway Airport, covering most of Clearing and West Lawn. Alderman Marty Quinn has been comfortably ensconced in this ward for eight years, thanks to a strong relationship with Mike Madigan, the powerful House Speaker and president of the Illinois Democratic Party. Madigan represents Quinn’s district and the two share office space. Quinn tends to stays out of the limelight (he is the only Chicago alderman without any social media presence), but this year he’s gotten himself into a minor elections scandal, which has shed light on both himself and his party’s shady election tactics.

Quinn’s opponent is nineteen-year-old David Krupa, a DePaul freshman who described himself as a “day-one Trump supporter” to a Reader reporter in 2016. (Krupa has since walked back his support for the president.) By all rights, this should have been an easy contest for Quinn. Still, he decided to challenge Krupa’s petitions and, well, he went overboard. Quinn’s campaign submitted nearly 2,800 sworn affidavits to the Board of Elections, supposedly from residents saying they never signed Krupa’s petitions. The trouble is, Krupa had only filed around 1,700 petition signatures to get on the ballot, and less than 200 of those signatures overlapped with the affidavits submitted by Quinn’s campaign. This meant that the vast majority of Quinn’s affidavits were either falsified or fraudulent, enough that the FBI has reportedly opened an investigation into the matter. Quinn has since dropped his challenge, meaning Krupa will appear on the ballot. This whole fracas gave Krupa a media boost—pundits have framed Krupa as the David to Quinn’s Goliath—and garnered him support from former far-right gubernatorial candidate and state representative Jeanne Ives. The young candidate is running on a platform of lowering property taxes and increasing the ward’s police presence. Quinn does not have a public platform, but was recently endorsed by both the Chicago Teachers Union and the Fraternal Order of Police. (William Trlak)

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14th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

The 14th Ward, which includes Gage Park, Archer Heights, Garfield Ridge, and Brighton Park, is the site of what is arguably the most significant scandal in Chicago’s 2019 elections: at the beginning of this year, the FBI brought 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke to court on federal corruption charges. Burke, who has $12 million in campaign funds, has been alderman since 1969, succeeding his father Joe Burke. Despite being caught on tape (allegedly) extorting a Burger King franchise, Burke announced shortly after his indictment that he was still running for reelection. The race has attracted the attention of Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García, who endorsed one of Burke’s challengers, Tanya Patiño, a civil engineer and a relative latecomer to the race. At the time of his endorsement, there were two other candidates who had ties to García: attorney Jaime Guzmán and college counselor José Luis Torrez. The congressman asked both candidates to withdraw and support Patiño, citing the need for a united front against Burke. Torrez agreed, but Guzmán elected to stay in the race.

Last year, García backed Aarón Ortíz in his successful campaign against Burke’s brother, Dan Burke, in Illinois’s 1st state house district, which includes most of the 14th Ward. Patiño, who is also Ortíz’s girlfriend, worked on that campaign and says her work ethic in knocking on doors is the reason García endorsed her—a move which gives her visibility and likely increases her fundraising capabilities. At an aldermanic forum last week, Guzmán criticized García’s endorsement, saying that he and Patiño were trying to replace one political dynasty with another.

At the forum, Burke, Guzmán, and Patiño focused on three broad issues: education, public safety and healthcare. While Burke touted his role in bringing the Esperanza Health Center to Brighton Park, Guzmán and Patiño emphasized the need for mental health services like clinics and supportive spaces. On public safety, the candidates have different takes: with his long-standing ties to the police union, Burke supports the city’s plan for a $95 million police academy and having officers walk more beats. Patiño was undecided about the police academy, but supported increased police presence in the ward, especially around schools. Like Guzmán, she also supports after-school and other intervention programs that provide kids with meaningful jobs and other opportunities. Guzmán is firmly against the police academy and opposed establishing a heavier police presence, at least until prevention programs had been extensively implemented.

While platforms and qualifications could be the difference between Patiño and Guzmán, the two more pertinent factors in this race may be the millions-wide difference in campaign chests between Burke and his challengers, and whether federal corruption charges will be enough for ward residents to end the fifty-year reign of Chicago’s most powerful alderman. (Adam Przybyl)

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15th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

The shape of the 15th Ward is astonishing even by old-fashioned Chicago gerrymandering standards. It swings out in four directions, containing chunks of Back of the Yards, West Englewood, Brighton Park, and Gage Park.

This Latinx and Black ward is currently served by Alderman Raymond Lopez, who won the seat in 2015. Lopez has the most money in the race and his top donor—after himself—is Rahm Emanuel. A member of the LGBTQ and Latino caucuses, Lopez styles himself as the “progressive champion of working families” who is “standing up to gangbangers,” but he has attracted a field of challengers from the left who complain Lopez is beholden to machine politics. (He counts Alderman Ed Burke as a mentor.) Ward residents even started a grassroots organization called “Fuera Lopez!” to oppose his candidacy, attacking his support for the mayor’s $95 million police academy and CPD’s gang database.

Among Lopez’s four challengers, Rafael Yañez has raised the most money and likely poses the greatest threat; he took Lopez to a runoff in 2015. A police officer who opposes the police academy and is determined to reform the CPD, Yañez is backed by U.S. representative Jesús “Chuy” García, United Working Families, the Chicago Teachers Union, and other progressive groups. If elected, he hopes to join the Progressive Caucus.

Other challengers include Berto Aguayo, a twenty-four-year-old former organizer for The Resurrection Project who has emphasized his background as a former Back of the Yards gang member; Otis Davis, Jr., director of New City Wholistic Community Development Project; and Joseph Williams, a Cure Violence interrupter and the race’s only candidate from West Englewood. Williams also has the endorsement of mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. (Mari Cohen)

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16th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Toni Foulkes is the current alderman of the 16th Ward, which includes parts of Englewood, Marquette Park, and Back of the Yards. A Black woman who grew up in West Englewood, Foulkes has effectively been representing the area for 12 years. She was previously alderman of the 15th Ward, but when ward boundaries were redrawn in 2012 (as is required every ten years), the 15th Ward lost much of its portion of Englewood and became a Latinx-majority ward. In short, Foulkes lost her base. In 2015, she ran for alderman in the newly drawn 16th Ward because, she told DNAInfo, “Englewood is the community I was elected to represent in 2007.” Foulkes is a member of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus and recently received an A grade on the Center For Racial and Gender Equity’s Racial Justice Scorecard. She is backed by several major unions, including SEIU Local 73 and the Chicago Teachers Union. This year she faces five challengers: city worker LaTasha Sanders, youth organizer Kenny Doss II, educator Eddie Johnson III, Jeffrey Lewis (about whom little is known), and Democratic ward committeeman Stephanie Coleman. Coleman also ran in 2015, narrowly losing to Foulkes in a runoff.

An Englewood native, Coleman is the daughter of former alderman Shirley Coleman. She has received significant financial support from Governor J.B. Pritzker and is the only challenger with more than a few hundred dollars in her campaign fund. She is running on a platform of economic development through Opportunity Zones and locally focused small-business districts, and she supports developing schools specialized in fields such as urban agriculture and STEM.  When asked about her stance on charter schools in a Sun-Times questionnaire, she cited her experience as the product of both public and private education, and pledged to “make sure our youth receive the high level education they deserve.” (Yao Xen Tan)

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17th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

With so many crowded aldermanic races throughout the city, the 17th Ward is notable for having only two candidates: incumbent David H. Moore and challenger Raynetta Greenleaf. Greenleaf, a patient care facilitator at Rush University Medical Center, is the founder of Greenleaf Motivation Inc., an organization that focuses on youth outreach and violence prevention. A freshman alderman and a member of the city council’s Progressive Caucus, Moore is one of a handful of aldermen who occasionally vote against the mayor. Most notably, he was the sole vote against the plan for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. Speaking to the Tribune, he explained the vote was intended to make a point about the lack of investment in his ward. “It’s just disturbing when they say we don’t have the money,” he said. “But when it’s a big project they want, they go ahead and get it.”

Covering parts of Auburn Gresham, Marquette Park, and Englewood, the 17th Ward has seen years of disinvestment–including school closures–resulting in increased gun violence, few employment opportunities, and vacant homes. If re-elected, Moore wants to focus on small business development, engaging youth in the community, and increasing employment opportunities. Greenleaf says she wants to bring trade and union jobs to the community, improve the relationship between residents and the police, and improve healthcare options for residents in the ward. (Samantha Smylie)

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18th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Alderman Derrick Curtis, one of the quietest members of City Council, faces a rematch with attorney and realtor Chuks Onyezia, who is on his third run for the seat. Curtis, who is finishing up his first term, has been financially supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor J.B. Pritzker, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, and a smattering of large unions, corporations, and developers. Onyezia is his own largest donor, though he was supported by unions, including the SEIU, CTU, and AFSCME, in his 2011 and 2015 runs. Both candidates challenged incumbent Alderman Lona Lane in the last election, though according to a report in the Southwest News-Herald, Onyezia ended up dropping out and working for Lane’s campaign before it was over. Both candidates believe that business and education are keys issues in the ward, which covers the Far Southwest Side neighborhoods of Ashburn, Wrightwood, Scottsdale, and part of Chicago Lawn. Curtis, who was the ward superintendent for the city Department of Streets & Sanitation and ward committeeman before being elected, advocates for growing local businesses, while Onyezia wants to relocate businesses to the ward from elsewhere. On the issue of education, Curtis plans to expand STEM programs and to invest in “recruitment and advertising strategies for CPS,” while Onyezia has mentioned plans to create a “digital media center” for students, and to “give educators the tools to succeed.” (Kyle Oleksiuk)

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19th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

In the 19th Ward, which covers the Far Southwest Side neighborhoods of Beverly, Morgan Park, and Mount Greenwood, incumbent Alderman Matt O’Shea faces what is likely one of the easiest challenges to beat in the city. O’Shea ascended from campaign worker for the ward’s powerful political families to Democratic committeeman in 2005 and alderman in 2011. His opponent, insurance broker David Dewar has filed the correct paperwork to appear on the ballot, but otherwise, he has done nothing to indicate he’s running; he doesn’t have a campaign website or any public information about his platform. [Ed. note: Since this was written, a profile of Dewar was published in the Beverly Review.] Dewar’s views on one subject, at least, are known; while attending a 2017 Republican picnic dressed as Uncle Sam, he criticized then-Governor Bruce Rauner for signing legislation expanding Medicaid coverage for abortions, telling the Palos Regional News, “I believe in the right for babies to decide, not in reproductive rights.” Dewar is also involved in an ongoing lawsuit against the CPD for arresting him during an altercation with his neighbor over snow allegedly blown across property lines. This likely won’t help the candidate’s case in a ward heavily populated by police families. O’Shea, meanwhile has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. Should he win a third term, O’Shea, in the Tribune’s candidate questionnaire, said he plans to reduce property taxes by supporting the creation of alternative revenue streams for the City, and he plans to improve Morgan Park High School by working with the school’s new principal to focus the school’s curriculum on STEM, and to make “capital improvements.” (Kyle Oleksiuk)

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20th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

After some flip-flopping, current alderman Willie Cochran, indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges, decided in August that he wasn’t going to run for re-election. Very quickly, about fifteen residents of the ward—which includes parts of Woodlawn, Englewood, Back of the Yards, and Washington Park—announced they were vying to fill his seat. A bitter, recriminatory string of petition challenges ensued, as Kevin Bailey, the ward’s Democratic committeeman, asked the Board of Elections to kick pretty much everyone else in the race off the ballot. Now that the dust has cleared, there are nine candidates left, including Bailey, former teacher and nonprofit worker Nicole Johnson, community organizer Jeanette Taylor, former City Hall employee Anthony Driver, CHA development director Maya Hodari, pastor Denard Newell, CPD officer Jennifer Maddox, attorney Quandra Speights, and pastor and semi-perennial candidate Andre Smith.

The 20th has traditionally been perceived as a Woodlawn ward; while it’s split about evenly between Woodlawn and the other three neighborhoods in terms of population, voter turnout is highest south of the Midway. As such, the race has mostly focused on issues specific to Woodlawn, in particular the coming Obama Presidential Center and its effect on home and rental prices in the neighborhood. Neglect of the other parts of the ward has become part of the story—Driver, a Back of the Yards resident, notes that few people from his part of the ward vote, in part because they don’t feel like their interests are represented in City Council. Each area also faces its own problems, such as the Norfolk Southern expansion in Englewood, or how exactly the UofC-led revitalization of Garfield Boulevard will affect Washington Park. Next week, the Weekly will publish the first of two articles on this race. (Christian Belanger)

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21st Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Incumbent Alderman Howard Brookins, Jr., who has served four terms since ousting Daley-appointed Leonard DeVille in a contentious runoff in 2003, is running for re-election against retired city zoning inspector Marvin McNeil, insurance broker Joseph Ziegler, Jr., and city Department of Public Health administrative assistant Patricia A. Foster. All three ran against Brookins in 2015 to represent the ward, which includes parts of Auburn Gresham, Brainerd, and Washington Heights, with McNeil forcing Brookins into a close runoff. Brookins notably has supported school closings and speed cameras, while showing some independence by voting against the parking meter privatization deal. However, Brookins didn’t vote once in opposition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel from April 2017 to November 2018.

Brookins, the son of a mortician and former state senator who served as a Cook County public defender and prosecutor before first running for the seat in 1999, is considered one of the more vulnerable incumbent aldermen on the South Side; in addition to last election’s close runoff, he was forced into a runoff in 2007 against SEIU official Leroy Jones, Jr., and has flirted with running for other offices, including losing runs for Cook County State’s Attorney in 2008 and a judicial seat in 2016. In 2015, his former chief of staff pleaded guilty to accepting a $7,500 bribe to secure a liquor license, and his ward office was fined $5,000 by the city Board of Ethics for shoddy timekeeping in 2017.

McNeil, who previously served as 6th Ward committeeman, is running on a platform of community policing, including a proposal to hire private investigators to solve homicides; requiring the city to improve sidewalks and streets every four years, citing his background as a city zoning enforcer; and developing abandoned retail spaces using community development and TIF funds. Ziegler, who ran for 18th Ward alderman in 2007 with Brookins’s support before the remap placed him in the 21st Ward and has received Willie Wilson’s endorsement in this race, doesn’t have a platform on his campaign site, and there is no public information regarding Foster’s campaign. McNeil and Ziegler were the only candidates to appear at a forum hosted last weekend at the Brainerd Park fieldhouse by the community group Concerned Citizens of the 21st Ward. (Janaya Greene)

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22nd Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Incumbent Alderman Ricardo Muñoz has represented the 22nd ward since 1993, when he succeeded his mentor Jesús “Chuy” García. Last year, Muñoz announced that he would not be seeking re-election, and quickly endorsed his former education liaison Mike Rodríguez for the job. Rodríguez, the former executive director of Little Village nonprofit Enlace Chicago, is also the president of the 22nd Ward IPO and the ward’s the Democratic Committeeman (a position he inherited from his former boss after Muñoz stepped down in 2016). The other candidates are former cop and small business owner Neftalie Gonzalez (who has run for the seat three previous times), Little Village Chamber of Commerce commissioner Richard Juarez, and family case manager and organizer Liz Lopez.

The 22nd Ward is centered in Little Village, with a small section in Garfield Ridge. Understandably, the campaigns have largely focused on issues in Little Village, especially jobs, public safety, and environmental justice. Under ordinary circumstances, Rodríguez’s affiliation with Muñoz would be a boon, but Muñoz was charged with domestic battery earlier this month after his wife accused him of attacking her while drunk on New Year’s Eve. Gonzalez, Juarez, and Lopez quickly called for Muñoz’s resignation, and Rodríguez soon followed suit. Despite this wrinkle in his campaign, Rodríguez still appears to be the candidate to beat, with significantly more campaign cash than his opponents and an endorsement from now-Congressman García. (Joshua Falk)

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23rd Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

In the 23rd Ward, which includes parts of several neighborhoods around Midway Airport on the Southwest Side, incumbent Silvana Tabares is facing her first electoral test since her appointment to the seat in June. Tabares was chosen by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to succeed longtime Alderman Michael Zalewski, who abruptly announced his retirement in April after twenty-three years in office. In the new ward map adopted by the City Council in 2012, Latinx aldermen pushed for an additional Latinx-majority ward on the Southwest Side. As a result, the 23rd Ward was extended east, losing parts of Zalewski’s base in Clearing and Garfield Ridge to add parts of Gage Park and Marquette Park, boosting the ward’s Latinx population to over sixty percent. While Zalewski won re-election under the new boundaries in 2015, he cited the fact that “the ward is overwhelmingly Hispanic” in explaining his decision to retire.

While Tabares was recommended for the job by Zalewski, her most influential ally was undoubtedly House Speaker Mike Madigan. Tabares was elected to the state Democratic Party’s central committee in March, with her name sharing space with Madigan’s on yard signs in that election. Madigan donated more than $3,000 to her campaign this month. Tabares, who skipped a candidate forum this month, only faces one opponent: licensed private detective Paulino Villarreal, Jr., who alleges that Emanuel appointed Tabares “as a favor to Michael Madigan,” and is running on improving city services and increasing police patrols in the ward. (Sam Joyce)

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24th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Incumbent Alderman Michael Scott, Jr. came in first in a crowded race to replace retiring longtime Alderman Michael Chandler in 2015, and easily beat his runoff opponent. He faces another crowded race this election: professional dog trainer Toriano Sanzone, salon owner and self-defense trainer Creative Scott (no relation), and activist Traci “Treasure” Johnson have all secured spots on the ballot. Michael Scott, who worked for the Park District before his election, comes from a longtime politically-connected family, including his father and namesake, who was the president of the Chicago Board of Education and a close confidant to former Mayor Richard M. Daley. Of his challengers, neither Sanzone nor Johnson have campaign committees, meaning they can’t raise money, and Creative Scott is self-financing his campaign. (For what it’s worth, Johnson was recently endorsed by the IVI-IPO, a once-formidable independent political organization.)

The ward, which covers North Lawndale and parts of Little Village, faces high unemployment and crime rates, the results of decades of disinvestment by City Hall, as covered by The City podcast last year. All candidates, presumably, have plans for reinvestment, though neither of the two Scotts has much in the way of a platform on their websites (though Creative Scott has been endorsed by Willie Wilson). Sanzone’s highlights year-round youth programming, a new grocery store, and re-establishing 16th Street as North Lawndale’s entertainment district; Johnson’s includes reopening closed schools, supporting Black-owned businesses, using foreclosed properties to house the homeless, and community involvement in development and police oversight. (Jade Yan)

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25th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Housing—its affordability and development—is the defining issue in the contentious race for alderman of the 25th Ward, which covers most of Pilsen and Chinatown, as well as slivers of McKinley Park, University Village, the West Loop, and  the South Loop. The ward also includes low-income housing communities like the Brooks homes and the Barbara Jean Wright Court. Outgoing Alderman Danny Solis is the longtime chair of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, and has a reputation for being friendly with developers: he has greenlit multiple large-scale developments which activists say have sped the pace of gentrification in the ward, particularly in Pilsen. All five candidates vying to replace Solis are Pilsen residents, and they all agree on the importance of keeping the ward affordable, stopping the displacement of working-class families, and involving the community in zoning decisions. Where they differ is in their strategies for achieving those goals and in their relative willingness to collaborate with developers or Solis affiliates.

These divisions were made clear at a forum organized by a coalition of housing organizations last week. For example, former CPS principal Aida Flores has a few Solis staffers working on her campaign and is endorsed by Solis’s daughter. When asked about this affiliation at the forum, she emphasized the importance of leading with love and collaborating with stakeholders, including developers, to move forward. At the same forum, Flores was one of three candidates who declined to support rent control, citing the potential negative impact on homeowners and questioning its effectiveness. She was joined by Troy Hernandez, an IBM data scientist and the director of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), and Alex Acevedo, a nurse and son of a once-powerful political family who was endorsed by Solis in his run for state representative in 2016.

At the other end of the spectrum, former Pilsen Alliance director Byron Sigcho-Lopez has been actively working to establish rent control in Chicago as one of the founders of the Lift The Ban coalition. At the forum, he took an insistent stance against any affiliation with Solis or his allies in the Pilsen Land Use Committee (PLUC), a development council appointed by Solis from members of neighborhood nonprofits. The youngest candidate in the race, special ed teacher and activist Hilario Dominguez, occupies a fuzzy middle ground. He has formerly worked for The Resurrection Project, a PLUC member organization, and at the forum he echoed Flores’s “lead with love” rhetoric. He shares most of Sigcho-Lopez’s progressive stances: he supports lifting the state-wide ban on rent control and letting voters decide if they want to establish it in Chicago. And, while he shares the more conservative candidates’ concerns about homeowners in the ward, he takes a progressive approach, touting his work establishing the Pilsen Housing Cooperative, a model that he says would make homeownership more accessible to the working class. (Ellen Mayer)

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28th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Incumbent Alderman Jason Ervin was appointed to his post by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2011, and in 2015 he successfully removed all of his challengers from the ballot through petition challenges. This election will be the first real time he’s faced any opposition—though not for lack of trying; he challenged the petitions of all of his competitors this time, too, knocking two off the ballot. For those who survive their challenges, the process is still costly and time-consuming and can take the energy out of campaigns, especially for challengers without significant campaign cash. Of Ervin’s three challengers, only Miguel Bautista, an IT engineer at the University of Illinois at Chicago who’s been endorsed by progressive group Brand New Council, has any campaign money to work with.

Ervin is one of the more colorful members of City Council; he’s been supportive of a controversial late-night liquor store in the ward that a Tribune investigation tied to multiple shootings, and was investigated by the FBI in 2016 for accepting nearly $5,000 from a woman later convicted of stealing money from a state youth program. He was also the co-sponsor of an ordinance that would have created a city Independent Citizen Police Monitor, but was blocked by Emanuel’s administration. Bautista is running on community involvement in budgeting, police oversight, and development; increasing education funding; as well as creating a tech hub in the ward. Beverly Miles, an employee of the Veterans Administration, highlights transparency, public safety, health, and reopening closed schools in her platform. A third challenger, Jasmine Jackson, doesn’t have a campaign website and has done little beyond filing the paperwork to run (and beating Ervin’s petition challenge). The 28th Ward includes Garfield Park and parts of South Austin, the Illinois Medical District, Tri-Taylor, and University Village. (Jade Yan)

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34th Ward

Ellen Hao

Ellen Hao

Covering Roseland, West Pullman, and parts of Washington Heights and Morgan Park, the 34th Ward has been controlled by the Austin family—current alderman Carrie, and her late husband Lemuel before her—since the late eighties. The incumbent, who has been reelected five times and serves as the chair of City Council’s powerful Budget Committee, has only received less than sixty-one percent of the vote once (all the way back in 1995, her first election), and seems unlikely to lose or even be forced into a runoff. Still, she has recently faced strong criticism from the Chicago Crusader for accepting a large donation from Mayor Emanuel that the newspaper speculates is tied to her—along with the rest of City Council—signing off on the settlement paid to Laquan McDonald’s family. She’s also taken heat from #NoCopAcademy activists for forcing a vote in the Budget Committee allocating funding to Emanuel’s proposed $95 million police training academy in West Garfield Park. Activists and attorneys claimed that she and Emanuel violated aspects of the state Open Meetings Act, but a lawsuit filed on those grounds was dismissed by a Cook County judge.

Her opponent, attorney Preston Brown, Jr., who previously ran for the area’s state representative seat, is self-funding his campaign and running on a platform of economic development, home ownership, and good government, pointing out that Austin has been caught putting relatives and children on public payrolls. (Sam Stecklow)

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Thoughts on “South Side Elections: Ward By Ward”

    • Hi Algie—we won’t be, because we only cover the South Side and we don’t have the capacity to cover twenty-five more wards than we already are. We appreciate you being interested in our coverage, though!

      — Sam Stecklow, Managing Editor

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