Updated: Feb 6
In part 6, the Near North Side has only two contested races, along with five wards with people running unopposed. There are a few factors that cause that. I think a couple are the big money than incumbents (or their hand-picked successors) can raise in this part of the city, and the lack of traction for progressive organizing and opposition candidates on the near north lakefront. Check out the About page for endorsement criteria.
I'm just an individual person doing research. I hope this is a helpful resource to people, especially those wanting to participate by voting but without the time to heavily research or engage. If you're someone deeply involved in your local elections and organizing, I doubt you need what I have to say- you know your community and election better than I do. If you think I've gotten something wrong (or right!), keeping the values on the About page in mind, I want to hear from you about it and take your input into consideration. Please comment or use the chat tool!
1st Ward- Daniel La Spata
The 1st Ward (now redrawn to cover parts of Logan Square, Ukrainian Village, and Wicker Park) is represented by first-term Alder Daniel La Spata. After winning re-election in 2019 over scandal-plagued Alder Joe Moreno, La Spata has been a consistent member of the progressive bloc within city council and is endorsed for reelection. He has all the significant progressive groups and unions backing him after a first-term full of accomplishment and dramatic shift from Moreno's term. He's been an advocate of solutions pursuing more affordable housing, created a community-driven zoning process, backed an accessory-dwelling unit pilot, and ended the 1st Ward's previous cozy developer-alder dynamic, putting community input ahead of developer meetings in the development process. He's backed the mental health response team pilot program, increased funding for violence prevention and for addressing domestic abuse, and fought for reformed police accountability structures. His platform backs continuing this direction, with support for the Bring Chicago Home ordinance, the Just Cause Eviction ordinance, the Treatment Not Trauma ordinance, ranked choice voting (this is really good and not talked about by many), and better bike and pedestrian infrastructure. There have been some stories of dissatisfaction with interactions between his office and a few constituents, but I think this is largely a reflection of few people in opposition to his progressive agenda, some intense battles over development and preservation, and some first-term learning of how to navigate the role and community well. I hope he continues to grow in collaboration with constitutents. I think La Spata is the best option here, and there are significant concerns with the other candidates.
Former Alder Joe Moreno is running again but is full of scandals and developer connection and should not be considered. Andy Schneider is President of Logan Square Preservation and seems to be primarily focused on dissatisfaction with some preservation-related decisions by La Spata. There not much of a platform listed for him online. He claims to be generally progressive in a letter on his site but doesn't back it up with clear proposals. Sam Royko, an attorney and son of longtime columnist Mike Royko, is running on a crime-focused agenda after his girlfriend was victim of a carjacking. His platform is sparse, but to me it suggests more funding for surveillance and policing and ignores the significant housing affordability concerns of the ward.
Find out more at daniellaspata.com.
35th Ward- Carlos Rosa
Alder Carlos Rosa, the original democratic socialist of the council, elected in 2015, represents Logan Square and Avondale and is unopposed after a tough developer-backed opponent in 2019. He has a good platform for the future and is endorsed.
See more at carlosrosa.org.
2nd, 32nd, 42nd, 43rd, 44th Wards - No Endorsement
Ah, the mostly wealthy, established Near North Side- I can't bring myself to endorse in any of these. First, four of them are unopposed. In the 2nd Ward and 42nd Ward, Alders Brian Hopkins and Brendan Reilly have been solid opponents of the Bally's casino project and willing to be critical of Mayor Lightfoot, which I appreciate, but are basically moderate business-oriented establishment on most things. In the 32nd, Alder Scott Waguespack has a somewhat progressive record but has been a key ally of Mayor Lightfoot on the council on a variety of issues. In the 44th Ward, outgoing Alder Tom Tunney is backing his aide Bennett Lawson to represent this Lakeview-area ward. Lawson is also unopposed, even for this open seat, and seems similar to the moderate big business-friendly alders of this area.
That leaves Lincoln Park's 43rd Ward, where Alder Michele Smith retired a few monts ago and Mayor Lightfoot appointed corporate attorney Timmy Knudsen to finish Smith's term. Knudsen has been on Lightfoot's Zoning Board of Appeals, is really a recent transplant to the area, is light on platform details, and is basically backed only by the more conservative unions, which is concerning. Former Alder Michele Smith is backing Wendi Taylor Nations, a marketing executive (with surprisingly mediocre campaign marketing) involved in various community organizations but with very little detail on her vision for the ward. Attorney Rebecca Janowitz has a well-funded campaign after self-funding half a million dollars (enough to do TV ads, which is rare for a ward election) and has support from some of the more liberal unions and groups like Northside Democracy for America. She has a bit more of a platform outlined than the others but it is still limited, and what she does have suggests more police funding (while also mentioning root causes) and surprisingly little detail for someone who worked with the Sheriff's Department for years. I suspect she may be the best candidate here but doesn't seem to be a progressive by any stretch. Also running are Brian Comer, a neighborhood organization leader looking to expand policing, Steve Botsford, a police-union endorsed real estate investor, and Steven McClellan, who seems very active in the community and with youth programs, but ran a very unsuccessful 2019 campaign and has a public safety platform full of increased policing (and has a web presence full of typos, which never helps inspire confidence). So if you're in the 43rd, maybe vote Janowitz or Knudsen? There are a lot of forums it seems, so check those out and ask who will be best for the whole city, not just for Lincoln Park's interests.
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