With the aldermanic elections just around the corner, the 1st ward boasts a tight race between incumbent Proco Joe Moreno and up-and-comer Daniel La Spata. At LoganSquarist, we’ve compiled a list of all the aldermanic candidates to help you make your decision come election day.
Check out our other coverage of the incumbents and candidates looking to call the shots in Logan Square, and read on to learn about La Spata and what he hopes to change if he is elected.
Jersey-born Daniel La Spata first arrived in Chicago in 1999 when he attended North Park University. It was there, La Spata claims, is where he first got the itch to go into public service.
“It really was there where I was first instilled with the value of public service,” La Spata
While these early college days instilled a sense of service, it also made him take a hard look at the city of Chicago.
“You know, during this
His first real foray into politics came when he met John McDermott, the Housing Director of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. He was thinking of immediately going back to grad school, but McDermott preached to him the importance of living in the neighborhood.
“He taught me that it was really important to have that experience living in the neighborhood, being with neighbors, learning problems and issues, and talk about solutions,” he said. “And that’s pretty much been my life since 2005.”
Since then, La Spata has been working on economic development projects like Green Exchange, Sapata Apartments (affordable housing), and fighting for tenants living in foreclosing properties.
What prompted La Spata to throw his hat into electoral politics?
“I think I really saw the ceiling elected officials can place on how much change you can create,” La Spata said. “Aldermans and other officials can take meaningful steps to solve issues.”
He also saw the opposite.
“Unfortunately I’ve also seen the flip of that; when
One specific story that La Spata referenced is back in 2014 when he attended a community meeting to discuss the MiCa apartments.
“We collected over 3,000 signatures from residents, not necessarily to stop development, but more to discuss the specifics and what they meant to the community,” he said.
According to La Spata, those signatures were quickly dismissed by Moreno, whom La Spata claims received thousands from the developer in campaign contributions.
“He set them aside like it represented nothing,” said La Spata. “It was at that point that I realized there was a breakdown in how our democracy was supposed to function.
La Spata’s Platform
One of La Spata’s main priorities as a result is increased transparency and democratic participation.
“People need to believe that democracy isn’t once every other year at the ballot,” he said.
As a result, La Spata plans on reigning in aldermanic privilege. He told to the Chicago Sun-Times he will fight to reform aldermanic prerogative in order to cut down abuses of power.
One specific area La Spata wants to see more participation, development and zoning.
Last year, he held a rally to voice criticism of turning the famed Congress Theater into luxury apartments and condos, which originally were not going to include affordable units. However, in a plan approved by the Chicago Plan Commission in December, 22 units will be part of the ARO requirement that Moreno approved, as reported by Block Club.
La Spata has set himself apart from Moreno with his claim to never take donations from big developers, citing numerous contributions to Moreno’s campaign from high-profile developers, including the Lincoln Yards development.
Moreno just recently came out in opposition to the development, but La Spata cites a $5,000 donation to Moreno from Sterling Bay’s (the developer behind Lincoln Yards) Andy Gloor. La Spata also notes that Moreno had a previous opportunity to come out in opposition, but was absent during the vote.
“Strauss has never and will never be my biggest contributor,” La Spata touted. “Further, Strauss is also a former firefighter and fire inspector and a longtime member of this community.”
For La Spata, the 1st Ward’s issues are not in a vacuum.
“If you center on trying to keep housing affordable for a wide range of neighbors, you start to wonder how do we do development and zoning that reflects the communities best interests,”
“Our communities and neighborhoods and families are the highest voices when choosing who represents us,” said La Spata. “Moreno has shown his priorites lie with his campaign contributors.”
Read our coverage of all the aldermanic candidates, including 1st Ward opponent Joe Moreno’s profile coming soon. You can check out La Spata’s campaign website here.
Be sure to show up on Feb. 26 (also La Spata’s birthday) when the polls open and get more voting info here.