Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Tuesday February 24th, 2015, 4:16pm

Election 2015: An Update From Chicago's 24th, 36th Wards

Michael Scott Jr., one of ten candidates running for Chicago's open 24th Ward seat, was the favorite choice among some West Side voters who hit the polls on Election Day.

The 24th Ward, which covers parts of Douglas Park, Homan Square, Lawndale and other neighborhoods, is currently represented by Ald. Michael Chandler, who is retiring. 

Those competing to replace Chandler include Frank Bass, who runs a lobbying firm; businesswoman Vetress Boyce; LaDarius Curtis, who serves on the board of the West Side-based social services organization Goodcity; post office employee Sherita Ann Harris; former Chicago Bulls player Wallace "Mickey" Johnson; Regina Lewis, founder and CEO of Ashunti Residential Management Systems Inc., a West Side drug abuse and addiction treatment center; 24th Ward Committeeman for the Cook County Republican Party Larry Nelson; Michael Scott Jr., Chicago Park District manager for the central region; insurance agent Darren Tillis; and Chicago police officer Roger Washington, who is also an ordained pastor.

Lawndale resident Claude Woods, 63, voted earlier today at Faith Community Baptist Church, 3456 W. Flournoy St.

Woods said he supported Scott, who is the son of the late Chicago public schools chief Michael W. Scott, in part because he "has committed to the quality and restoration and preservation of this city." The voter also cited public safety and neighborhood development as two top issues driving him to the polls.

Another voter, Andrew Price, 63, voted for Scott as well, saying, "I met Scott, and he's a likable fellow, and Chandler, I've voted for Chandler in the past, and Chandler recommended him."

Regarding the mayoral race, in which four challengers are vying to unseat incumbent Rahm Emanuel, Woods would not disclose for whom he voted.

Asked his general thoughts about the race, Woods said, "The mayor does has some good programs, but also it's kind of difficult to call because he has such a political war machine and he has the finances. It's going to be difficult to unseat him."

"But also, I think, the city of Chicago is also moving in the wrong direction, so I'm hoping there'd be a runoff so we can get more issues put before the people, so we can have a better chance of trying to get some commitment not only from the mayor, but whoever's going to be in the runoff," Woods added. 

Those challenging Emanuel include Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, community activist William "Dock" Walls and businessman Willie Wilson.

Price said he backed Emanuel when he voted this morning, citing the mayor's endrosement from President Barack Obama.

"I trust Obama, and if Obama recommends him, I trust his recommendation," Price said.

Lawndale resident Lisa Kee, 39, also voted this morning at Faith Community Baptist Church. She voted for Scott, but declined to say which mayoral candidate she favored. Here's Kee explaining her support for Scott, her thoughts on the mayor's race and why she voted "no" on a non-binding voter question asking whether the city should switch to an elected, rather than the current mayor-appointed, school board:

Overall, election judges said morning voter turnout at the church polling site, covering the 24th Ward's 18 precinct, was slow.

Election Day in the 36th Ward 

Progress Illinois also caught up with some voters in the 36th Ward, in which four aldermanic candidates are competing for another open seat.

The four candidates vying for the 36th Ward seat include: Omar Aquino, a former employee of U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D, IL-8), business owner Gilbert Villegas; business owner Christopher Vittorio; and reference librarian Alonso Zaragoza.

Progressive Ald. Nick Sposato (36th) currently represents the 36th Ward, which includes portions of Belmont Cragin, Hermosa, Montclare and Portage Park. However, Sposato decided to vacate his seat and run in the city's 38th Ward after his original majority-white 36th Ward was changed during the 2012 remap to include a majority of Latino residents.

Robert Kuc, 51, who voted at the West Belmont Library, 3104 N. Narragansett Ave., in the early afternoon said he wasn't sold on any particular 36th Ward candidate. He declined to say who he voted for in the ward race.

The mayoral race drove him to the polls more than the 36th Ward contest, he said.

"I want Rahm out. He's not doing anything," particularly on the issue of police manpower and combating violence, Kuc stressed.

Kuc, who declined to say which mayoral candidate he supported, doesn't believe Emanuel will hit the 50 percent plus one he needs to avoid an April 7 runoff.

"There's no way in the world he's going to get to 50 percent plus one," Kuc stressed. 

It is also too bad, Kuc said, that Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis was unable to enter the mayoral race due to health issues.

"The only person that I thought that really had a shot at him was the CTU president," the Belmont Cragin resident said. "She was the only one that could really take him out."

Kuc did say he voted in favor of three advisory referendums on the citywide ballot. Those questions involve whether employers in Chicago shold provide paid sick time to their employees, whether public finances should be used in part to pay for elections and whether city employees convicted of domestic violence should have to obtain treatment. The 36th Ward's ballot also featured the voter question about an elected school board, which Kuc supported.

Another 36th Ward resident, Gloria Ziemann, 65, voted against the elected school board referendum. 

"I think that (the board) should be appointed, and not elected," she said at her polling site, located at the Chicago Park District's Blackhawk Park, 2318 N. Lavergne Ave. "You really need someone who knows that they're doing, instead of a disgruntled parent or someone who's been on a local school board, because they're concerned about local issues only. I think you have to look at the big picture."

Ziemann, who declined to say which candidates she supported in the aldermanic and mayoral races, was pleased to see four people running for alderman in her ward.

"I'm glad that there's good candidates," she said. "I think it's nice we have a choice."

For the mayoral contest, Ziemann wants to see a runoff occur.

Asked why, she said, "Because we don't need all these people running for mayor that really are not equipped to do the job."

Back at the West Belmont Library, voter Slawomir Novak, 30, echoed Ziemann's comments about having several aldermanic candidates on the ballot.

"I think it's good," he said. "Competition brings out the best."

Novak voted for Aquino, noting that the candidate "was endorsed by good people, so that's why I gave him my vote." Among other endorsements, Aquino is backed by Duckworth, Ald. Ray Suarez (31st), Secretary of State Jesse White and Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios.

Belmont Cragin resident Delores Herrera, 34, voted for Villegas, saying she believes he is the most qualified for the job.

For the mayor's race, Herrera said she supported Emanuel.

"I'd rather stay with the devil that we know than the devil we don't know," she said. 

Election judges in several 36th Ward precincts also said turnout had been slow during the morning and early afternoon.


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