PI Original Ellyn Fortino Tuesday March 24th, 2015, 4:12pm

Election 2015 Preview: Chicago Aldermanic Runoffs Pt. 1

Progress Illinois previews nine of the 18 Chicago aldermanic runoffs in the upcoming April 7 election. We will profile the other nine aldermanic runoffs later this week.

Chicago's upcoming April 7 election features 18 aldermanic runoffs, in addition to the mayoral contest between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

Here, Progress Illinois profiles the aldermanic runoffs in wards 2, 7, 10, 11, 15, 16, 18, 20 and 21. We will take a look at the remaining nine aldermanic runoff races later in the week. In each of these aldermanic contests, no candidate reached the 50-percent-plus-one threshold needed to avoid an April 7 runoff, during which the two top vote-getters will go head-to-head.

2nd Ward

In the February 24 election, aldermanic hopefuls Brian Hopkins and Alyx Pattison emerged as the top two candidates in the six-way race for Chicago's open 2nd Ward seat.

Hopkins is a former aide to Cook County Commissioner John Daley, brother of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, and past president of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents. Pattison is an attorney, Local School Council member and former legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL,9). In the last round of voting, Hopkins and Pattison pulled in 29 percent and 24 percent of the vote, respectively.

The two are vying for the 2nd Ward seat being vacated by progressive Ald. Bob Fioretti, who made an unsuccessful bid for Chicago mayor. Fioretti decided to run for mayor after being drawn out of his original 2nd Ward and into the 28th Ward during the 2012 ward remap.

As part of the most recent remap, the North Side 2nd Ward drastically changed. The new, oddly-shaped 2nd Ward incorporates parts of the Gold Coast, Wicker Park, Ukraine Village and other neighborhoods. Last month, Emanuel garnered 64 percent of the vote in the ward, compared to Garcia's 23 percent.

Among other elected officials, Hopkins is backed by Commissioner Daley as well as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Two former 2nd Ward candidates, Bita Buenrostro and Cornell Wilson, have also endorsed Hopkins in the runoff.

Pattison has garnered the support of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Congresswoman Schakowsky  and three current Chicago city council members, Alds. Joe Moreno (1st), Ameya Pawar (47th) and Harry Osterman (48th), to name a few endorsements

The city's two major newspapers, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribuneendorsed Pattison in both the February 24 election and runoff contest.

The possibility of a post-election property tax increase has been at least one main issue debated by Hopkins and Pattison.

A property tax increase is off the table for Hopkins, who supports Emanuel in the mayoral race. Hopkins put out a recent campaign mailer criticizing Pattison over her position on taxes, saying "She's open to raising property taxes by millions and even proposed a sales tax on services that would cost local families $450 million per year."

The mailer in question also reads: "Mayor Emanuel & Brian Hopkins: The team you can trust to hold the line on taxes." It fails to mention the fact that Emanuel has has suggested expanding the sales tax to services as a means to help tackle the city's pension problem.

Pattison, who pledged to be an independent alderman, if elected, said she views a property tax increase as a "last resort."

Similarly, Emanuel has left the door open to a property tax hike "as a last resort."

7th Ward

Ald. Natashia Holmes is fighting to retain the 7th Ward seat to which she was appointed by Emanuel in 2013.

Holmes, an urban planner and lawyer, replaced former Ald. Sandi Jackson, the wife of disgraced former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. In 2013, Sandi Jackson was sentenced to 12 months in prison for income tax fraud. Her husband got a 30-month sentence for misuse of campaign funds.

Holmes was the first-place finisher in the February 24 election, earning 25 percent of the vote. Top challenger Gregory Mitchell, an IT manager, received 20 percent of the vote. The two were in a crowded, eight-way race.

Mitchell previously served as a financial analyst for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He has received endorsements in the runoff from both the Tribune and Sun-Times, the latter of which said Holmes "has failed to make an impact during her short time on the City Council."

Holmes insists that the ward has improved under her watch. For example, the alderman notes in campaign literature that she's worked to shut down and revoke the liquor licenses from a handful of troubled businesses. The alderman has also "stood with residents for the successful denial to open a pawn shop."

The two candidates have tussled over issues related to ward services and economic development. If elected, Mitchell wants to let ward residents decide how to spend aldermanic "menu money" for infrastructure needs through a process called participatory budgeting. Holmes opposes the participatory budgeting idea.

Chicago's 7th Ward includes parts of the Calumet Heights, Jeffery Manor, South Shore and other South Side neighborhoods. In last month's election, Emanuel garnered 43 percent of the vote in the ward, followed by Garcia at 24 percent. Former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson was the third place finisher in the ward, winning 21 percent of the vote.

10th Ward

The aldermanic runoff in Chicago's 10th Ward pits 16-year incumbent Ald. John Pope against public school counselor Susan Sadlowski Garza.

Pope grabbed 44 percent of the vote in the February 24 election, followed by Garza at 24 percent. Also during the last round of balloting, Garcia won 47 percent of the vote in the 10th Ward, compared to Emanuel's 37 percent.

An Ogden & Fry poll conducted on March 18 showed Pope with an 11-point lead over Garza. Pope was polling at 41.8 percent to Garza's 30 percent, with 28 percent of respondents undecided.

According to the polling firm, Pope needs to "pick up one out of three undecided voters to be successful on April 7."

Chicago's 10th Ward includes the Calumet Heights, East Side, Hegwisch, South Chicago and South Deering neighborhoods.

A top issue in the far Southeast Side ward is the environment. Specifically, residents are largely concerned about the petcoke being stored along the banks of the Calumet River.

In last month's election, Southeast Side voters overwhelmingly approved a non-binding referendum asking whether petcoke storage and transportation should be banned in the 10th Ward. Eighty-six percent of 10th Ward voters said "yes" to the referendum question.

As alderman, Pope has co-sponsored several measures to regulate the oil refining byproduct and crack down on petcoke operators.

Garza, however, says Pope's actions on petcoke came "too little, too late." Additionally, Garza has called on the incumbent to return campaign contributions he received over the years from two Southeast Side petcoke operators, Beemsterboer Slag Corp. and KCBX Terminals Co.

KCBX is controlled by the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Garza's campaign calculates Pope has received $30,000 in combined contributions from the two companies.

Pope's campaign meanwhile is slamming Garza in a new TV ad over her position on taxes. The attack ad claims in part that residents would get "buried" in taxes if Garza is elected. The commercial attacks Garza for her support of business taxes that would force companies to "flee to Indiana."

The Sun-Times endorsed Pope over Garza, while the Tribune made no endorsement in the 10th Ward runoff. Garza has the backing of the Chicago Teachers Union as well as several progressive groups.

11th Ward

Patrick Daley Thompson and John Kozlar are battling for the South Side's open 11th Ward seat, being vacated by retiring Ald. James Balcer. The contest between Thompson and Kozlar is the first aldermanic runoff in the history of the 11th Ward, which includes Bridgeport, Canaryville, University Village and other neighborhoods.

Thompson, an attorney and commissioner at the Metropolitan Water District of Greater Chicago, is the grandson of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Kozlar is currently a law school student and president of the Canaryville Little League. Kozlar, 26, ran unsuccessfully for the 11th Ward seat back in 2011.

Out of three total candidates, Thompson finished first in last month's aldermanic election with 48 percent of the vote, followed by Kozlar at 35 percent.

Thompson has garnered endorsements from the Sun-Times and Tribune. A slew of labor groups as well as elected officials, including Emanuel, back Thompson over Kozlar.

Kozlar wants to bring greater transparency and increased efficiency to the 11th Ward office. He has vowed to vote against a property tax hike. His campaign website lists several economic development and neighborhood improvement projects he'd like to implement in the ward, if elected, including restoration of the Ramova Theater.

Kozlar promised to "be a full-time Alderman without having conflicts of interest" and to "put our neighborhoods first" in a recent posting on his campaign Facebook page.

On the topic of economic development, Thompson has proposed converting the ward's Stockyards National Bank Building, at 41st and Halsted Streets, into a museum. Additionally, he has pledged to create six community advisory boards and modernize the ward office. The candidate also plans to spearhead an "Adopt A Viaduct Program" to spruce up underpasses in the ward, if elected.

Regarding a property tax increase, Thompson said during a recent runoff debate on Chicago Tonight that the "real estate tax would be one of the last taxes that I would look to."

Emanuel garnered 48 percent of the vote in the 11th ward last month, followed by Garcia at 32 percent.

15th Ward

Chicago's 15th Ward, including the Englewood, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park and Gage Park neighborhoods, will see a runoff between Raymond Lopez and Rafael Yanez.

Lopez is the 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman. Yanez serves as a crime specialist with the Chicago Police Department.

Among other endorsements, mayoral candidate Garcia and the progressive group United Working Families backs Yanez. Lopez has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police and both the Sun-Times and Tribune, to name a few endorsements. Lopez ran unsuccessfully for 15th Ward alderman in 2011.

The two candidates are competing for the open 15th Ward seat that is currently held by progressive Ald. Toni Foulkes, who is running in the neighboring 16th Ward due to the 2012 remapping process.

Last month's crowded 15th Ward aldermanic race featured six total candidates. Lopez was the first-place finisher with 47 percent of the vote, followed by Yanez at 22 percent. Garcia won 51 percent of the vote in the 15th Ward, compared to Emanuel's 30 percent.

A recent Ogden & Fry poll showed Lopez with a strong lead over Yanez, however there were many undecided survey respondents.

In the poll, conducted last week, Lopez and Yanez received 34 percent and 18 percent of respondents' support, respectively. However, 47 percent of the 359 likely voters surveyed were undecided.

According to Ogden & Fry's polling memo, "Lopez will need to win one out of three undecided voters to be successful," adding that "there is still room for further development in this race."

The idea of using participatory budgeting in the Near Southwest Side ward is at least one contentious issue in the race. Yanez supports bringing participatory budgeting to the ward. Meanwhile, Lopez rejects the idea, saying some communities in the ward are likely to see greater participation in such an initiative than others. As a result, communities with lower participation in the budgeting process could see fewer improvement projects, he argues.

16th Ward

In Chicago's 16th Ward, Ald. Foulkes is in a runoff against top challenger Stephanie Coleman.

Foulkes is a member of the Chicago City Council's Progressive Reform Caucus. Coleman is the 27-year-old daughter of former 16th Ward Ald. Shirley Coleman.

The South Side ward, which covers the Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Gage Park and West Englewood neighborhoods, was previously represented by Ald. JoAnn Thompson, who died suddenly of heart failure on February 9. Foulkes is running in the 16th Ward as a result of the ward remap. The 15th ward was previously a predominately-black ward, but is now majority Latino following the 2012 remapping process.

Foulkes, who faced three challengers in the election's first round, garnered 43 percent of the vote, compared to Coleman's 35 percent. Also in last month's election, Emanuel pulled in nearly 40 percent of the vote in the 16th Ward, followed by Garcia at 25 percent.

Foulkes has been endorsed in the 16th Ward runoff by the Sun-Times as well as progressive groups including United Working Families. The Tribune backs Coleman, who has come under fire recently over her residency and ownership of a vacant Englewood home.

Last week, Progress Illinois covered the controversy surrounding Coleman, who says her critics are making false claims against her in an effort to deflect residents' attention "from the real issues important to them -- safe streets, better schools and greater job opportunities."

18th Ward

Southwest Side Ald. Lona Lane will go up against top challenger Derrick Curtis on April 7.

Curtis is the 18th Ward Democratic Committeeman and streets and sanitation ward superintendent. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Lane to the city council in 2006.

In the first round of voting, the two candidates were nearly tied, with Curtis garnering 30.2 percent of the vote, compared to Lane's 29.9 percent. Curtis and Lane were in a six-way race.

A recent Ogden & Fry poll shows Curtis leading Lane by 22 points. However, 37 percent of survey respondents were undecided when the poll was conducted on Sunday. Curtis was polling at 42.4 percent to Lane's 20.5 percent. According to the polling firm's memo, "Curtis will only need to get one out of four undecided voters to be successful."

Lane is taking heat for an illegal garbage dump in the ward, which FOX 32 recently exposed in an investigative report. During a Chicago Tonight debate between Lane and Curtis, the alderman said she was unaware of the dump site until Fox 32 contacted her about the issue. She, in turn, blamed Curtis, the ward superintendent. For his part, Curtis noted that as ward superintendent, he's issued 70 tickets related to violations at the property in question.

"You should know about it," he told Lane. "You're the alderman."

Check out the full exchange between Curtis and Lane here.

The 18th Ward includes the Ashburn neighborhood. Emanuel earned nearly 39 percent of the vote in the ward last month compared to Garcia's 32 percent. Both the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune endorsed Curtis over Lane.

20th Ward

In the April 7 runoff, South Side Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) will face off with top challenger Kevin Bailey, a civil engineer.

Cochran, who was first elected to the 20th Ward seat in 2007, was also forced into a runoff during the 2011 election. Last month, Cochran grabbed nearly 47 percent of the vote, compared to Bailey's 20 percent. The two were in a five-way race.

Ogden & Fry polling from earlier this month showed Cochran ahead of Bailey by eight points. But nearly 50 percent of survey respondents were still undecided in the poll, conducted March 15 on behalf of Aldertrack. Cochran was polling at 29.4 percent, followed by Bailey at 20.8 percent.

Like the mayoral race and many other aldermanic contests, the hot-button issue of red light cameras has been a focus of the 20th Ward candidates. Bailey would push to abolish red light and speed cameras, if elected.

During last week's Chicago City Council meeting, members of the Progressive Reform Caucus tried to resurrect stalled legislation that would phase out the city's red light and speed camera programs. Powerful Ald. Ed Burke, however, put forward a motion to postpone consideration of the measure. Cochran was one of 14 alderman who voted against Burke's motion.

The 20th Ward includes the neighborhoods of Woodlawn and Washington Park, among others. Forty-percent of the 20th Ward vote went to Emanuel in last month's election. Garcia came in second with nearly 26 percent of the vote.

The Tribune is backing Cochran, while the Sun-Times has endorsed Bailey.

21st Ward

Chicago's 21st Ward is set to see a runoff between Southwest Side Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. and top challenger Marvin McNeil.

Brookins was first elected to the council in 2003. He faced a runoff in 2007 and ultimately won re-election.  McNeil is a retired city zoning code enforcer, who has been endorsed by the Sun-Times and Tribune.

Seven total candidates were competing for the 21st Ward seat in last month's election. Brookins led his challengers with 41 percent of the vote, followed by McNeil at 14 percent.

The 21st Ward includes portions of the Auburn Gresham and Washington Heights neighborhoods. Over 42 percent of the vote in the 21st Ward went to Emanuel in last month's election. Garcia came in third place behind Emanuel and Wilson with 22 percent of the vote.

An Ogden & Fry poll conducted March 16 showed Brookins ahead of McNeil by 14 points. However, 46 percent of those surveyed were undecided in the poll. Brookins was polling at 34 percent compared to McNeil's nearly 20 percent.

Brookins has come under scrutiny after his former chief of staff, Curtis V. Thompson Jr., pled guilty last year to accepting a $7,500 bribe. Thompson admitted to accepting the money in exchange for the alderman's support for a liquor license application in the ward. Brookins has not been charged and says he knew nothing of the bribe.


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