Chicago voters and mayoral candidates are gearing up for the municipal election next month, but the race to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not the only important one taking place Feb. 24.
Aldermanic elections will take place the same day for Chicago’s 50 wards, including six wards in Logan Square. The aldermen of Chicago make up the City Council and are equally critical to the mayor and to the citizens they serve. With a new ward map and a contentious mayoral election as a backdrop, this year’s aldermanic election is more important than ever.
Rubber Stamps, Land Sales and Potholes
A study published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Political Science on Dec. 9 examined the relationship between the aldermen, who make up the City Council, and Emanuel. The study finds that aldermen serve as a “rubber stamp” council who vote with the mayor 89% of the time, with the exception of the Progressive Reform Caucus that includes Logan Square’s Ald. Scott Waguespack in the 32nd Ward and Ald. Bob Fioretti in the 2nd Ward.
So when you cast your vote for your favorite mayoral candidate, make sure you also cast a vote for the aldermen who will make his or her vision for the city possible.
On top of that, aldermen are the local community’s most direct link to city government and preside over issues specific to each neighborhood. Aldermen vote on “proposed loans, grants, bond issues, land acquisitions and sales, zoning changes, traffic control issues, mayoral appointees, and other financial appropriations,” the City of Chicago website says. Aldermen are required to live in the wards they represent and are the first points of contact for issues that affect you day to day. Need a pothole fixed? Have your alderman on speed dial.
You can find your ward/alderman and look up their legislative involvement on the City Clerk’s website, but your current alderman may not be the same one on the ballot in February. A new ward map approved by City Council in 2012, available here via WBEZ, will take effect at the time of the election next month. Registered voters can verify their updated ward information through the Board of Elections Commissioners website.
Controversial Ward Changes in Effect This Election
Logan Square residents may think of themselves as sharing common interests and concerns, but the ward map indicates otherwise.
Imagine that you head to the Subway at Armitage Avenue and Kedzie Boulevard for a sandwich, cross to the north side of Armitage to stop at the ATM, and then cross to the west side of Kedzie for a drink at Scofflaw. This short journey across one intersection may take only moments to complete, but according to the new map, you have just traversed three separate wards represented by different aldermen.
Logan Square was represented by six wards prior to the map change, but effective this year the neighborhood lost the 30th Ward and gained the 2nd Ward. Residents of the neighborhood who haven’t checked the new map may be surprised to find that they belong to a different ward this year than they did in 2014.
Many aldermen were just as surprised when the map was approved in 2012, none more than 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti, who will challenge Emanuel in next month’s mayoral election. The 2nd Ward shifted clear across the city, retaining none of its original territory and developing a curious jigsaw border that is in places only one block wide. To give you an idea, some Logan Square residents were welcomed into the redrawn 2nd Ward alongside their new neighbors in Streeterville.
The new map was not made available to the public and voted on only hours after the ward boundary changes were finalized. A lawsuit against the city alleged that the new 2nd Ward was designed to oust Fioretti, who has frequently opposed the City Council majority (reported on by the Chicago Tribune). Logan Square’s Ald. Rey Colon in the 35th Ward and Waguespack were two of only eight aldermen to vote against the remap.
Whose Ward Is It, Anyway?
Remembering all six of the wards in Logan Square is difficult enough—add in six elections and it can be a lot to monitor. LoganSquarist will cover these races in the next month, beginning with a rundown of who is running in each ward. Residents looking for more information citywide can also use the Aldertrack app.
And of course, you can’t cast a ballot for your favorite candidate if you’re not registered to vote. Chicago residents have until Jan. 27 to register online or via mail-in form. Registering on the Board of Elections Commissioners website takes only a few minutes—no excuses.
- (Incumbent Ald. Bob Fioretti is not running)
- Bita Buenrostro
- Brian Hopkins
- Steve Niketopoulos
- Alyx Pattison
- Stacey Pfingsten
- Cornell Wilson