In about a week, all 50 wards in Chicago will vote for their aldermen. That includes the five wards that contain parts of Logan Square: 1, 26, 31, 32 and 35 (with the majority of the ward covered by 1, 32 and 35). Check out all the candidates running for Logan-area wards below.
If the term “alderman” leaves you vaguely confused, just know that they make up the Chicago City Council, the legislative branch of our metropolis’s government. In their respective wards, the aldermen control things like “menu money,” which funds neighborhood improvements like street paving, and zoning rules, which can help determine affordable housing availability in a ward, among much else.
The vote happens Tuesday, Feb. 26, and will also elect the city’s next mayor, city clerk and city treasurer. Find your ward here and your voting place here. Early voting is also now open, running through Feb. 25, at sites in every ward and downtown at the “Super Suite” (175 W Washington St.). Check out a list of early voting sites here. Logan-area sites include Ward 32’s spot at the Bucktown-Wicker Park Library (1701 N Milwaukee Ave.) and Ward 35’s NEIU El Centro location (3390 N Avondale.).
Joe “Proco” Moreno (Incumbent)
Incumbent Joe Moreno’s site touts his “DIY constituent services”—paying for snow and graffiti removal at his own expense, for example—and the legislation he’s passed to simplify bureaucracy. In its endorsement, the Sun Times praised Moreno’s push for affordable housing and paid sick days for part-time employees, “a small victory in the gig economy.”
Moreno has made his way into the news for some weird stories recently, however. This month, police opened an investigation into whether he filed a false police report when he said his car had been stolen. The vehicle was in the possession of a woman Moreno said he used to date and whom he told to borrow the car. Moreno called it a “misunderstanding.” The Sun-Times, even in endorsing him, said, “he can be an annoying guy,” mentioning how he flashed his alderman’s badge at a woman and yelled at her to move her car in June of last year.
Moreno began serving as first ward alderman in March 2010. In the office, he’s earned chairmanships on the Committee on Human Relations and the Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology development.
Daniel La Spata
Daniel La Spata, running for political office for the first time, has served on the board of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association for 10 years, eventually rising to vice president. There, his campaign says, he’s led on housing and community development. In pushing for affordable housing, he’s led on the Zapata Apartments and helped shape policies to bring TIF (tax-increment financing) money to housing for working families. In a Sun-Times interview, he said his top priorities as alderman would be to continue pushing for affordable housing as well as for “a democratic process around zoning and development.”
Born and raised in New Jersey, La Spata moved to Chicago for college, at North Park University. He’s completing a master’s in urban planning and public policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago now.
Scott Waguespack (Incumbent/Unopposed)
You can write someone else in, but otherwise, you 32nd Warders don’t have much choice: Scott Waguespack,
Freed from the pressures of reelection against an opponent, Waguespack has said he’s watching out for “sweetheart deals” from the outgoing Emanuel. That includes the $6 billion Lincoln Yards project, Waguespack told WBEZ. Since 2008, the alderman has also served as the Democratic Committeeman for the 32nd Ward, working to register and mobilize voters. He sits on a number of city council committees, including Budget and Government Operations; Finance and Human Relations; and Education and Child Development.
A resident of Bucktown, Waguespack got his law degree from Chicago-Kent and worked with the Peace Corps in Kenya, aiding women’s groups and UNICEF. He’s also assisted the War Crimes Tribunal in the former Yugoslavia.
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (Incumbent)
When Carlos Ramirez-Rosa won office as alderman for the 35th Ward in May 2015, he became, at age 26, the youngest serving member of city council, and one of the youngest ever. He’s joined Waguespack as a progressive voice in the council, frequently criticizing Mayor Emanuel and his supporters and serving on the Progressive Caucus. On his office’s website, Rosa touts the 541-plus ordinances he’s passed, “including major legislation that’s delivered $20 million in property tax relief for working class families, protected immigrant communities from abuse,” and protected equal rights for people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a recent interview with LoganSquarist, Rosa highlighted his work in pushing developers to turn the Grace’s Furniture building in Logan Square into a boutique hotel offering $17/hour jobs—instead of luxury housing “for just a few families.” Speaking to the Sun-Times, Rosa named his top priorities
Opponent Amanda Yu Dieterich has criticized Rosa’s attendance at city council and community meetings and called him inaccessible to residents. The 35th’s current alderman has also run for two other offices (briefly as Daniel Biss’ running mate for governor and for the Logan-area 4th U.S. Congressional seat), which has drawn criticisms of his commitment to the ward. Rosa also serves as the Democratic Committeeman for the 35th Ward. Before becoming
Amanda Yu Dieterich
First-time political candidate Amanda Yu Dieterich is a small-business owner, running The Early Word, and a member of the school council for James Monroe Elementary School. Dieterich’s campaign site says she wants to “put the needs of residents first” and provide the services that people require from the alderman’s office.
Her campaign highlights a number of issues as her focus, including education, small business support, housing affordability
In its endorsement of Dieterich, the Tribune said she’s “intelligent, a strong communicator and promises to chart an independent course.” The paper also praised her stance on reducing borrowing. Rosa has called Dieterich’s criticisms of him false and has highlighted campaign contributions she received from groups affiliated with Logan-area developer Mark Fishman. “Misinforming the community, and using money from Rahm donors and big developers displacing our families to do it,” Rosa tweeted. Dieterich, a mother of three, has lived in Logan Square for 10 years.
Roberto Maldonado (Incumbent)
Roberto Maldonado became 26th Ward alderman in July 2009. His office’s website highlights his work on public safety, public playgrounds, housing affordability
In its endorsement, the Sun-Times praised Maldonado’s commitment to progressive values, particularly affordable housing, which is particularly important with housing costs increasing along the 606 trail. He supported a program to give homeowners along the trail grants to fix up their homes’ exteriors so they wouldn’t get pushed out, the Sun-Times noted.
During a recent debate, challenger David Herrera said Maldonado’s had a low attendance record on the city council and had failed to bring much economic development to the ward. Before becoming an alderman, Maldonado had served since 1994 as Cook County Commissioner.
First-time political candidate Theresa Siaw describes herself as a social entrepreneur; she currently directs the OMNI Healthcare clinics, which cater to underserved populations. In an interview with the Sun-Times, she said she’s “been very active in the ward,” sponsoring youth soccer, back-to-school programs
“Humboldt Park currently ranks 37th among Chicago neighborhoods in affordable housing options,” she said. Speaking to Chicago Now, Siaw said the recent scandals with Alderman Edward Burke show that many aldermen have been in office too long.
“We need to start putting term limits on people,” she said. Siaw also founded and directs a program to help foreign medical students prepare for U.S. residencies, and she’s served on the advisory board of Centro Romero, which aids immigrants and refugees.
Born and raised in the 26th Ward, as his campaign website notes, the 36-year-old David Herrera has worked as a developer and in municipal finance for 13 years. In addition to criticizing Maldonado’s attendance record, Herrera told Block Club that the alderman had failed to bring economic development to the ward, which in turn hampered affordable housing.
Maldonado “is very anti-development, and unfortunately it’s a very regressive policy because the existing housing supply is being cannibalized vs. allowing new market-rate to come in,” Herrera said. The candidate has four top priorities, he told the Sun-Times: education, economic growth, job creation
Maldonado has criticized Herrara for failing to include affordable housing in a recent development project and accused him of moving into his mother’s house to say he lives in the ward. In addition to his private-sector work, Herrera has served on nonprofit junior-boards in the community, he told the
Milagros Santiago (Incumbent)
Milly Santiago has served as 31st Ward alderman since 2015, following a career in journalism and political communications, as well as service in the Army Reserves. Santiago, according to her office’s site, has gained popularity for working on issues relevant to immigration, seniors and education. She has also advocated for those affected by domestic abuse, working with the group “Not one more victim.”
The Tribune endorsed Santiago, giving an interesting compliment about her “spunk” and saying that she understands the problem of lost jobs and residents in Chicago. The paper highlighted her push for reforms to aldermanic privilege that could increase the availability of affordable housing. She told the Sun-Times her top priorities were public safety, education, small-business development
In endorsing her opponent Colin Bird-Martinez, the Sun-Times said Santiago is “best known for whining she was just a ‘poor alderman’ when the city’s Board of Ethics prohibited her from buying coveted World Series tickets from the Cubs … at face value.” The paper asked, “How does a freshman alderman … come to feel entitled so quickly?” Santiago worked as a television reporter for Univision and Telemundo before working in communications for the governor’s office. As alderman, she’s joined the Latino, Women’s and Veterans caucuses.
An automotive analyst and community organizer, Colin Bird-Martinez advocates a “community first” platform. His campaign site defines that as “focusing on the solving the problems affecting working families” and investing in “public safety, education, community services and affordable housing.”
Before running for alderman, Bird-Martinez co-founded Hermosa Neighborhood Association, in 2014, serving as president and board member until 2018. The group advocates for affordable housing and works for infrastructure upgrades, among other activities. Bird-Martinez told the Sun-Times his top priorities are fully funding the public schools, supporting affordable housing and increasing public safety.
In its endorsement of Bird-Martinez, that paper noted the candidate’s service on his local school council, as well as with organizations like The People’s Lobby and Reclaim Chicago, where he helped elect progressive candidates, including Logan’s own 35th Ward Alderman Rosa. That and other work has added up to more than 4,000 volunteer hours, his campaign site said. Bird-Martinez lives in Hermosa with his husband and has called Chicago home for over a decade.
Felix Cardona Jr.
Felix Cardona Jr. told the Sun-Times he has “been active in 31st Ward politics for over 20 years.” He highlighted his work with unions, including joining picket lines and helping on union-endorsed voting pushes. He’s helped candidates, including Logan-area U.S. Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, get on the ballot.
On his campaign site, Cardona Jr. says he aims to prevent crime, improve schools and improve services. He wants to, among other things, demand the ward gets its “fair share of police officers,” bring back vocational schools and make the alderman’s office more responsive to service requests. He told the Sun-Times his top priorities are crime reduction, ward services
Born in Logan Square, Cardona Jr. attended schools in the neighborhood and studied criminal justice at Northeastern University. He previously worked for the Cook County Board of Review and became director of incentive properties in 2010 at the Cook County Assessor’s office.
Featured photo: Chicago City Council chambers: Wikimedia Commons