PI Original Ellyn Fortino Thursday March 26th, 2015, 4:13pm

Election 2015 Preview: Chicago Aldermanic Runoffs Pt. 2

Progress Illinois profiles nine of Chicago's 18 aldermanic runoffs in the 24th, 29th, 31st, 36th, 37th, 41st, 43rd, 45th and 46th wards. On Tuesday, we took a look at the nine other aldermanic races featured in the upcoming April 7 election.

Chicago's upcoming April 7 election features 18 aldermanic runoff races. On Tuesday, Progress Illinois profiled the runoff contests in the 2nd, 7th, 10th, 11th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 20th and 21st wards. Here, we recap the remaining nine aldermanic runoff races in the 24th, 29th, 31st, 36th, 37th, 41st, 43rd, 45th and 46th wards.

In each of these aldermanic contests, no candidate reached the 50.1 percent needed in last month's election to avoid an April 7 runoff between the top two vote-getters.

24th Ward

Michael Scott Jr. and Vetress Boyce are in a West Side aldermanic runoff race for the open 24th Ward seat being vacated by retiring Ald. Michael Chandler. The top two aldermanic candidates were in a crowded, 10-way primary race.

In the February 24 election, first-place finisher Scott earned 31 percent of the vote, while Boyce received 16 percent of voters' support. Scott is a Chicago Park District manager for the central region and the son of late Chicago Board of Education President Michael W. Scott.

Boyce is founder and CEO of a construction and real estate management company who also ran for 24th Ward alderman in 2011. She is a founding member of the North Lawndale Black Chamber of Commerce.

poll conducted Monday by Ogden & Fry showed Scott with a 40-point lead over Boyce. In the survey, Scott and Boyce were polling at 70.2 percent and 29.8 percent, respectively. The poll of 382 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.12 percent. Ogden & Fry notes in its polling memo that Scott has greater name recognition than Boyce in the West Side ward, which includes parts of Douglas Park, Homan Square, Lawndale and other neighborhoods.

Public safety, cleanliness of the ward and economic development have been key topics debated in the runoff race.

Another issue is the controversial Homan Square Chicago police facility, which is located in the 24th Ward. According to The Guardian, Homan Square functions as an "off-the-books" police interrogation and detention center where suspects have allegedly been beaten, abused and denied access to legal counsel. The Chicago Police Department has denied the allegations raised by The Guardian.

The 24th Ward candidates briefly discussed Homan Square during a recent forum on Chicago Tonight. Boyce noted that she has stood in solidarity with activists at recent protests outside the facility. Among other demands, the protesters want the U.S. Justice Deparment to launch an investigation into Homan Square.

During the forum, Boyce tried to paint Scott as an uninvolved community member.

For his part, Scott said he has "been by Homan Square," before dismissing Boyce's accusations.

"I live, work and play in the 24th Ward," Scott said, adding that, "I think it's a farce for anybody to say to me that I'm not in the community."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is in a runoff against challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia, was the top choice among 24th Ward voters in the February election. Emanuel garnered 36 percent of the vote, compared to Garcia's 23 percent. Former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson did better than Garcia in the 24th Ward, earning 30 percent of the vote.

29th Ward

In another West Side runoff, Ald. Deborah Graham is up against top challenger Chris Taliaferro, a Chicago police sergeant and attorney.

The 29th Ward includes parts of Austin, Galewood and other West Side neighborhoods.

Graham and Taliaferro were competing in an eight-way primary race, garnering 40 percent and 22 percent of the vote, respectively.

An Ogden & Fry survey of the 29th Ward runoff showed Graham and Taliaferro tied, both at 30.2 percent. Nearly 40 percent of respondents were undecided in the poll, conducted on March 17. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percent.

Taliaferro, who is also a former Marine, supports Garcia in the mayoral race.

Graham, a former state representative, was appointed to the Chicago City Council by former Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2010. Graham replaced former 29th Ward Ald. Ike Carothers, who resigned in 2010 after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

Some of Graham's critics have labeled her a "rubber stamp" for voting in lockstep with Emanuel. Chicago Forward, the Emanuel-friendly super PAC, has supported Graham's re-election bid.

As Progress Illinois has reported, Graham has faced criticism from West Siders over her development decisions. She took heat in particular for allowing a fifth pawn shop to open along a half-mile stretch of North Avenue near the Oak Park border.

For her part, Graham has defended her voting record, telling the Chicago Sun-Times, "I have not voted with the mayor and against the community. I think every issue that has come up has been beneficial to the community." As far as ward developments, Graham said she intends to gather more community input, if re-elected, before making decisions on controversial projects like pawn shops.

In last month's election, Emanuel earned nearly 42 percent of the vote in the 29th Ward, followed by Garcia at 24 percent.

31st Ward

Northwest Side Ald. Ray Suarez and former television reporter Milagros "Milly" Santiago are in an April 7 runoff.

In the 31st Ward's four-way primary race, Suarez received 48 percent of the vote, compared to Santiago's 37 percent.

Both the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune have endorsed Santiago over Suarez, the city's vice-mayor. Suarez, an ally of Emanuel as well as Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, has represented the city's 31st Ward since 1991.

Santiago, who's backed by Garcia, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL,4) and other officials, says it's time for the Berrios-Suarez "political machine" in the 31st Ward to end. She's also accused Suarez of being an inattentive alderman.

For his part, Suarez points to his accomplishments as alderman, saying he has improved education opportunities in the ward and has also brought jobs and economic development to the area. He also cites a reduction in crime in the 31st Ward under his leadership.

During a recent Chicago Tonight runoff forum, Suarez was asked about his relationship to Berrios, who is also the chairman of Cook County Democratic Party.

"First of all, I run the ward, not Joe Berrios," the alderman responded, adding, "There's no involvement with Mr. Berrios in the 31st Ward when it comes to making political decisions on behalf of the residents that I represent."

The Northwest Side ward includes portions of the Belmont Cragin, Portage Park, Hermosa and Logan Square neighborhoods. Garcia was the top pick among 31st Ward voters in the February 24 election, receiving 51 percent of the vote. Emanuel trailed Garcia with 40 percent.

36th Ward

Chicago's 36th Ward runoff contest on the Northwest Side is between Omar Aquino and Gilbert Villegas.

Aquino is a former employee of U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,8) and past legislative aide in the Illinois House. Villeags is a business consultant and a former Marine who has been endorsed by Garcia.

A total of four candidates ran in last month's election for the open 36th Ward seat being vacated by Ald. Nicholas Sposato. The alderman ran, and won, in the 38th Ward due to the city's most recent remapping process.

Aquino captured 35 percent of the vote last month, followed by Villegas at 32 percent. They were split by 179 votes.

The two aldermanic candidates have tussled over their positions on how to tackle the city's financial problems as well as their professional backgrounds and connections to other elected officials. Aquino, for example, has come under attack from Villegas for his ties to Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios, while Villegas has taken fire from Aquino for campaign support he's received from State Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago).

Issues involving economic development, education and public safety have also been central in the 36th Ward runoff.

In the first round of balloting, Garcia lead the ward with 45 percent of the vote, compared to Emanuel's 39 percent.

37th Ward

West Side Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) is in a runoff battle with public school teacher Tara Stamps, who has strong backing from the Chicago Teachers Union. Mitts is getting support from Chicago Forward.

Mitts has represented the 37th Ward since 2000, when then-Mayor Richard Daley appointed her to the seat. Stamps is the daughter of the late community activist Marion Stamps.

In last month's election, Mitts captured 49 percent of the vote, compared to Stamps' 32 percent. The two were in a four-way race.

Mitts has raised some eyebrows recently over controversial comments she has made.

On election night, for example, Mitts said to those at her campaign party that "union folks" could "get the hell out of the 37th Ward," if she wins re-election, AustinTalks reported. And on Wednesday, Mitts apologized for making a comment against gay people during a candidate forum over the weekend.

Mitts said at the forum, "I don't support the fact that we can have two women married, two men married and we pay our fees and your tax dollars go. And they can get just the same benefit as the woman or a man get. And I don't think that that playing field is level."

In apologizing for the comment, which was captured on video, Mitts told the Chicago Sun-Times: "I do apologize if it came out that way. I wasn't trying to offend anyone. If it came out wrong, absolutely I would apologize. I don't mean to be rude. I don't want it to hurt me or anyone else.

"I'm dealing with something I'm not familiar with," she added. "We were brought up not being in favor. I'm learning and being [educated] about relationships I didn't know anything about. I have to understand that these are human beings. I have to state how I feel, but as a legislator and a lawmaker, I'm upholding and supporting what the law is."

Some controversy has swirled around Stamps as well. Allegations of welfare fraud reportedly contained in a 1999 state lawsuit against her surfaced during the campaign. Stamps maintains that she "never fraudulently received welfare." Her campaign tells Progress Illinois that the state overpaid Stamps years ago in public assistance, and that the money has since been paid back.

In a previous statement addressing the controversy, Stamps accused Mitts and Chicago Forward of using "race-baiting and misogynist tactics to malign the achievements of hard-working single mothers like me who have made it despite the odds."

"The families of the 37th Ward deserve better than an alderman who has to rely on dirty political tricks and special interest money to run for re-election," Stamps added.

More recently, a questionable flyer has been circulated in the ward from a group calling itself "Citizens Who Care, a political pact."

The flyer features photos of Stamps and Garcia and says in part, "37th Ward candidate Tara Stamps endorses the vision for Chicago to keep hardworkers working." But it also shows photo of what appears to be President Barack Obama and a worker with text that says, "Mexicans work better." The progressive group United Working Families says the "poorly-made" flyer seems to be "a despicable attempt to sow division between African-American and Latino citizens" and "hint that both [Stamps and Garcia] support jobs programs for Latinos." 

Chicago's 37th Ward covers parts of Austin and Garfield Park.

Emanuel carried the ward in the primary with 41 percent of the vote, followed by mayoral candidate Willie Wilson at 28 percent and Garcia at 20 percent.

41st Ward

The Northwest Side runoff race in the city's 41st Ward pits incumbent freshman Mary O'Connor against Chicago Firefighter and former police officer Anthony Napolitano.

O'Connor, who is seeking a second city council term, earned 47 percent of the vote, followed by Napolitano at 42 percent. The two were in a three-way primary race.

Chicago's 41st Ward covers portions of Edgebrook, Edison Park, Norwood Park and O'Hare.

Jet noise from O'Hare Airport is a big concern among 41st Ward residents.

In a Chicago Tonight runoff forum Wednesday, O'Connor noted that she's helped bring new jet noise monitors to the 41st Ward and worked on efforts to get more homes eligible for soundproofing.

O'Connor is vice chair of the council's Aviation Committee. Napolitano has pointed out that the committee on which O'Connor sits has yet to hold a hearing on the jet noise issue. O'Connor said she has been demanding that a hearing be held.

The two candidates have also traded barbs over ways to address Chicago's $20 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. O'Connor recently put out a negative TV ad attacking Napolitano on pensions. The spot takes aim at Napolitano for his "do-nothing-approach" and opposition to "important reforms."

During the Chicago Tonight appearance, Napolitano detailed a few revenue ideas he supports to help fix the pension issue, including a Chicago casino and tapping tax increment financing (TIF) funds. He stressed the importance of protecting pensions and finding other sources of revenue, saying, "We can't just give up on these pensions." The 41st Ward is home to many city workers and retirees.

Napolitano said he would not support a property tax increase, if elected. O'Connor said she would not vote in favor of a property tax hike "until there's reforms."

Emanuel grabbed 47 percent of the 41st Ward vote last month, while Garcia won 30 percent.

43rd Ward

Freshman incumbent Ald. Michele Smith and top challenger Caroline Vickrey are battling for the North Side's 43rd Ward seat.

In last month's four-way primary race, Smith won 41 percent of the vote. Vickrey, a Local School Council member at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School and former lawyer at the Illinois Attorney General's Office, earned 35 percent of the vote.

Smith, who has received a financial boost from Chicago Forward, has faced criticism during the campaign over her handling of the Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment as well as the expansion of the overcrowded Lincoln Elementary. Vickrey, meanwhile, has come under attack from Smith over her proposed Lincoln Park traffic congestion tax.

Smith has also accused Vickrey of alleged property tax fraud. The Chicago Tribune asked a property tax expert and well as a spokeswoman for the Cook County assessor's office about the tax issue in question, with both sources saying Vickrey did not receive improper property tax deductions as a result of how her home was classified.

"These lies were told in order to embarrass me and to throw me off in the campaign and they were also to derail my campaign," Vickrey said of Smith's accusations at a debate this week.

The North Side's 43rd Ward includes Lincoln Park and portions of the Gold Coast and Old Town neighborhoods.

Emanuel did very well in the 43rd Ward last month, winning nearly 72 percent of the vote to Garcia's 18 percent.

45th Ward

The runoff in Chicago's 45th Ward is a re-match between incumbent Ald. John Arena, a Progressive Reform Caucus member who is seeking a second term, and Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido. 

Garrido lost to Arena in the 2011 election by 30 votes. In the far Northwest Side ward's four-way primary race last month, Arena won 45 percent of the vote, trailed by Garrido at 39 percent. Garrido claims to be running as an independent, non-party candidate.

Among other contentious exchanges at debates between the two candidates, Arena has criticized Garrido for putting up a Facebook post last month ahead of the February 24 election offering ward residents a discount to local restaurants and businesses if they show their municipal election voting receipts. Under state law, it is illegal for someone to offer "any money or other valuable consideration" to potential voters. Garrido later removed the post following media inquiries. 

Garrido has also come under fire in negative ads from the SEIU* Illinois Council PAC that, among other things, highlight the candidate's "Republican priorities." 

Arena, a frequent critic of Emanuel, has been the subject of negative ads from Chicago Forward attacking the alderman on tax issues. 

The 45th Ward includes the Jefferson Park, Gladstone Park, Old Irving Park, Portage Park and Forest Glen neighborhoods.

Reporting by DNAinfo Chicago suggests that the outcome of the 45th Ward race likely hinges on local-level issues, like economic development. Arena has touted his record of bringing new businesses to the 45th Ward. But Garrido claims certain areas of the ward have seen greater attention in terms of economic development than others under Arena's leadership.

Emanuel won 48 percent of the vote in the 45th Ward last month, while Garcia earned nearly 35 percent.

46th Ward

Incumbent Ald. James Cappleman and challenger Amy Crawford emerged as the top two vote-getters in the 46th Ward's three-way primary race. Cappleman and Crawford earned 46 percent and 37 percent of the vote, respectively.

Denice Davis, past chief of staff to former 46th Ward Ald. Helen Shiller, captured 15 percent of the vote. Davis has endorsed Crawford in the runoff.

Emanuel lead the 46th Ward in the February 24 election with 57 percent of the vote. Garcia earned 31 percent of the vote.

Cappleman, who is openly gay, has represented the North Side's 46th Ward, covering parts of the Uptown, Buena Park and Lakeview neighborhoods, since 2011. Crawford, who is openly lesbian, is a partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Affordable housing, economic development and crime have been key topics debated by the 46th Ward candidates. Both the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune have endorsed Crawford over Cappleman.

A poll conducted Tuesday by Ogden & Fry on behalf of Aldertrack showed Cappleman with a 23-point lead over Crawford. The survey of 463 respondents had Cappleman polling at 61.8 percent to Crawford's 38.2 percent. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.65 percent.

As Progress Illinois has previously reported, Cappleman has taken heat during his first term from affordable housing activists for, among other things, his support of a proposed luxury housing complex in Uptown. The project is proposed for the former Columbus Maryville Academy site near the city's lakefront. 

JDL Development proposed the project, located in the ward's Montrose/Clarendon TIF district. The developer first introduced a version of its Maryville redevelopment proposal to the Uptown community back in the fall of 2012.

In February 2014, the 46th Ward's Zoning and Development Committee, established by Cappleman, approved preliminary plans for the development, which calls for $14 million in tax increment financing (TIF) assistance. 

The development needs approval in part from the Chicago Plan Commission, which, according to reporting this week from the Chicago Reader, has yet to take up the project for reasons that are currently unclear.

For her part, Crawford backs bringing the residential complex to the former Maryville property, telling the Chicago Reader, "That site is clearly destined for market-rate housing and that's okay with me." She noted that the area currently has an appropriate amount of affordable housing. Crawford does not intend to end the Montrose/Clarendon TIF district, as some community members have previously demanded of Cappleman.

The League of Women Voters is hosting the first 46th Ward aldermanic runoff debate on Saturday at the People's Church, 941 W. Lawrence Ave. The debate starts at 2 p.m.

* The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.

* Image: flickr/yooperann

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