Progress Illinois takes a look at Chicago's 19 aldermanic contests possibly up for runoffs and how progressive City Council seekers fared in Tuesday's election.
Chicagoans are set to see up to 19 aldermanic runoff elections in April -- in addition to a matchup between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and top challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia -- that could significantly shake up the city council and determine the strength of the Progressive Reform Caucus.
Fourteen of the aldermanic runoff contests feature sitting aldermen, including two Progressive Reform Caucus members and two appointees of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. However, one of those appointees, Ald. Deb Mell (33rd), is waiting to concede to the fact that she fell short of the 50 percent-plus-one threshold needed to win re-election outright, saying she will not act until all absentee ballots are counted. In the remaining five aldermanic runoff races, candidates are vying for the open 2nd Ward, 11th Ward, 15th Ward, 24th Ward and 36th Ward seats.
Nine of the incumbent aldermen forced into a runoff in Tuesday's election saw support from the pro-Emanuel super PAC Chicago Forward. Also getting a campaign boost from Chicago Forward was Ald. Rey Colon (35th), who was defeated Tuesday by 26-year-old Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a community organizer and former congressional caseworker in U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez's (D-IL,4) office.
Ramirez-Rosa, who garnered 67 percent of the vote compared to Colon's 33 percent, was the only aldermanic challenger to unseat an incumbent in Tuesday's municipal election outright. Labor and progressive groups threw their weight behind Ramirez-Rosa, who will become the Chicago City Council's first openly gay Latino alderman.
Among other priorities, the incoming alderman wants to bring participatory budgeting to the 35th Ward, which includes the Avondale, Albany Park, Hermosa, Irving Park and Logan Square neighborhoods, and says he will push for an elected school board, a $15 minimum wage and the re-opening of the six city mental health clinics that were shuttered in 2012. The alderman-elect also says he will "cut his salary by $35,000 and invest the savings in city services and critical infrastructure repairs, like fixing the potholes," according to his campaign website.
Ramirez-Rosa plans to join the Progressive Reform Caucus, which is set to lose Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), once the new council is sworn into office in May. Fioretti opted against a city council bid and instead ran for Chicago mayor after he was gerrymandered out of the 2nd Ward into the 28th Ward.
Other current Progressive Reform Caucus members include aldermen John Arena (45th), Toni Foulkes (15th), Leslie Hairston (5th), Rick Munoz (22nd), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Nick Sposato (36th), and Scott Waguespack (32nd).
Arena and Foulkes are each set to be in the runoffs.
Arena, who garnered 45 percent of the vote in his aldermanic race, will go up against top challenger Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido, who earned 40 percent of the vote. In the 2011 municipal election, Garrido lost to Arena by 30 votes.
Foulkes, who is running in the 16th Ward due to the city's ward remap, faces top challenger Stephanie Coleman, daughter of former 16th Ward Ald. Shirley Coleman. Foulkes earned 43 percent of the vote, compared to Coleman's 35 percent.
The remaining Progressive Reform Caucus members were re-elected in Tuesday's aldermanic elections. Sposato ran in the city's 38th Ward after his majority-white 36th Ward was changed in the 2012 ward remap to consist of a majority of Latino residents.
"Across the city of Chicago, voters rejected the mayor and city council's corporate austerity policies," said David Hatch, director of Reclaim Chicago, a group supported by the People's Lobby and National Nurses United. "Despite the power of incumbency and more than $2 million in Super PAC money to attack his opponents in city council, Rahm Emanuel was not able to defeat a single sitting progressive. Emanuel's money was also not sufficient to protect three key allies from facing runoffs by Reclaim Chicago endorsees, nor was it enough to protect him from a runoff."
Also winning election outright Tuesday was David Moore, one of three city council seekers who were competing for the 17th Ward seat being vacated by Ald. Latasha Thomas, an attorney who is stepping down to practice law full-time. Moore is expected to join the Progressive Reform Caucus after being sworn into office.
One of the 17th Ward contenders, Glenda Franklin, founder and executive director of a youth-focused nonprofit, got support from Chicago Forward.
Meanwhile, Emanuel appointee Mell is poised to go head-to-head with public school teacher Tim Meegan, unless absentee ballots bring her to the 50 percent plus one she needs to avoid a runoff. Mell, the daughter of former Ald. Dick Mell, pulled in just under 50 percent of the vote compared to Meegan's 35 percent. Grassroots Illinois Action, United Working Families and Reclaim Chicago back Meegan, who intends to join the Progressive Reform Caucus if elected.
United Working Families is an independent political organization formed by the Chicago Teachers Union, SEIU* Healthcare, Action Now and Grassroots Illinois Action focused on electing progressive candidates to local office.
The other Emanuel appointee facing a runoff is Ald. Natashia Holmes (7th), who will compete against top challenger IT manager Gregory Mitchell.
A few other candidates backed by progressive groups also forced incumbent aldermen into runoffs, including Amy Crawford, who will take on Ald. James Cappleman in the 46th Ward, covering portions of the Uptown, Buena Park and Lake View neighborhoods. Grassroots Illinois Action and Reclaim Chicago endorsed Crawford.
In the 37th Ward, covering Austin and Garfield Park, incumbent Ald. Emma Mitts is in a runoff with teacher Tara Stamps, who has backing from Grassroots Illinois Action, United Working Families and Reclaim Chicago.
Chicago's 15th Ward, including the Englewood, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park and Gage Park neighborhoods, will see a runoff between Raymond Lopez, 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman, and Rafael Yanez, a crime specialist with the Chicago Police Department. Yanez has endorsements from Grassroots Illinois Action and United Working Families.
"We've had enough of elected officials who listen to the Mayor and his downtown buddies instead of the people who live in our community," Marcos Ceniceros of Grassroots Illinois Action said in a statement. "In this past year, we started to build a new kind of politics in the 15th ward - where our families and our communities matter. And (Tuesday evening) we won a major battle by forcing a runoff between our endorsed candidate and just another rubber stamp elected official. And this is just the beginning."
A total of six candidates ran for the open 15th Ward seat, being vacated by Foulkes.
On the far Southeast Side, incumbent Ald. John Pope (10th) is in a runoff with CPS counselor Susan Sadlowski Garza, also supported by Grassroots Illinois Action and United Working Families. The 10th Ward encompasses the East Side, Hegewisch, South Chicago and South Deering neighborhoods.
Here's a breakdown of the 19 Wards with runoffs, based on election numbers as of 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday:
Aldermanic races in the 12th, 13th, 14th, 28th, 30th, 42nd, 48th were uncontested.
Chicago's mayoral and aldermanic runoff contests will take place April 7.
*The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.