of change -- generational, factional, ideological
and legal -- are blowing strongly in a half dozen
Chicago wards, and they threaten the re-election
of six aldermen who have a combined service of 112
Natarus, age 73, has been the alderman of the Gold
Coast 42nd Ward since 1971. In 2003 he faced an
ill-financed Republican and won re-election with
56 percent of the vote. This year he faces a
young, well financed Democratic political
operative, Brendan Reilly. Affluence is widespread
in the ward, and the young affluent are
gravitating toward Reilly.
Rugai, age 61, has been the alderman of the Far
Southwest Side 19th Ward since 1991. The ward has
long been dominated by the "Three Wise
Men," Tom Hynes, Jeremiah Joyce and Mike
Sheahan, with whom Rugai is allied. In 2003 she
faced youthful insurgent John Somerville and won
with 56 percent of the vote. Hynes no longer is
the ward's Democratic committeeman, and Sheahan no
longer is Cook County sheriff. Somerville is
Troutman, age 49, has been the alderman of the
South Side 20th Ward since 1991. She was indicted
on bribery charges in January. "Somebody's
out to get me," she was quoted as saying.
She's cloaking herself in victimhood, and she has
Shiller, age 59, has been the alderman of the
rapidly gentrifying Uptown 46th Ward since 1987.
For the "progressive" Shiller, economic
development is a dirty word. She wants to keep her
constituents poor and in apartments, not rich and
in upscale townhomes and condos.
Daley, age 64, has been the alderman of the
Lincoln Park 43rd Ward since 1999. No relation to
the mayor, she was unopposed in 2003, but she
faces four opponents in 2007, each appealing to a
certain constituency: anti-Daley liberals, Jews,
professionals, gays and development opponents.
Daley will be forced into a runoff.
Moore, age 48, has been the alderman of the Rogers
Park 49th Ward since 1991, and he is the City
Council's foremost Daley critic. He gained great
notoriety for his ordinance banning the serving of
foie gras, which is goose liver. He faces
opponents who are less liberal and less ardently
Ward: Natarus's reputation for being quirky and
cantankerous has endeared him to many of the
ward's longtime residents, who view him as well
meaning and hard-working. But to younger and newer
residents, he's a buffoon and an embarrassment.
opposed the smoking ban in bars and restaurants,
which proliferate in the Rush Street area of his
ward, but he has sought to ban or regulate weekend
dance promoters, loud motorcycles, boom-box
radios, street performers, panhandlers, roller
bladers, 4 a.m. bars, valet car dumping,
parasailers and dung-dropping carriage horses. He
opposed Daley's property tax hike to fund Loop
improvements, he is a booster of development, and
he bemoans the fact that there are too many dogs
around. According to the Jan. 1 filing, Natarus
had $619,997 in his campaign funds, with roughly
$227,500 coming from real estate interests and
a ward clogged with high-rises and condominiums,
precinct work is irrelevant. The key is direct
mail. Candidates must bombard voters with mail,
with different pieces to specific voter groups.
The average household got 12 Natarus mailers in
2003 and will get 15 this year. Natarus spent
$333,861 and got 5,540 votes in a ward with 66,000
residents and 37,579 registered voters.
Gordon, the ward's Republican committeeman, ran
against Natarus in 2003 and got 4,378 votes, but
he couldn't raise big dollars for 2007. The ward
has a growing Republican base, as George Bush got
11,696 votes (36.2 percent of the total cast) in
2004. In addition to Reilly, a former staffer for
Mike Madigan and an AT&T executive, nightclub
owner Mike Libert is running.
prediction: The ward has high residential turnover
and low voter turnout. Chicagoans view their
alderman as a glorified housekeeper who keeps
their ward neat and tidy. Gold Coast residents
have their own housekeepers, and they want an
alderman who is an advocate on citywide issues.
Reilly has raised $237,207. He needs to identify
and turn out 5,000 anti-Natarus voters to win, and
Ward: The "Three Wise Men" tried to
persuade Rugai, a breast cancer survivor, to
retire and let Matt O'Shea, the new Democratic
committeeman, take the post. But she is still
livid about the nasty 2003 race, which she won
10,701-7,905, and she detests Somerville and wants
to beat him again.
ward, which contains Mount Greenwood, Beverly and
Morgan Park, is filled with city and county
workers, many Irish American, and is about 20
percent black. The critical issue is economic
development: As the rest of the city explodes with
new townhouses, condos, replacement housing,
Starbucks, Home Depots, wi-fi restaurants and Wal-Marts,
the 19th Ward is in a time warp, stuck in the
Avenue is still a strip of fast-food joints. The
old Dominick's at 95th Street has been vacant for
20 years. Said one observer: "People are
asking themselves: Why are we being left
election is a referendum on Rugai. She is a 24/7
alderman, which is what her constituents expect,
but they feel uneasy, almost angry. Somerville,
from Beverly, is running again, as is Tim Sheehan,
a real estate agent. Somerville blames Rugai for
the ward's alleged stagnation, and he is getting
traction. "She will win, but just
barely," said another observer.
"O'Shea's working really hard." There is
a racial subtext: Somerville is married to a black
woman, which cuts both ways.
prediction: The "Three Wise Men," along
with new Sheriff Tom Dart (who lives in the ward),
O'Shea and state Representative Kevin Joyce, are
calling in all their markers. They admit that this
is Rugai's last term. Their plea: Don't elect
Somerville and start a ward civil war. Change will
will be in a runoff with Somerville, and she win
with 52 percent of the vote.
Ward: In the black community an indictment can be
a badge of honor, particularly if the indicted
claims to be a victim of white racism. Or it can
be an embarrassment. Troutman, who got 56 percent
of the vote in 2003, faces two foes: Willie
Cochran, a retired cop, and Ed Chaney, a retired
prediction: Troutman will drop under 50 percent on
Feb. 27, and she will lose the runoff.
Ward: It is difficult to measure the political
clout of the "haves" versus the
"have nots" in Shiller's ward. In the
2006 election for Cook County Board president,
Democrat Todd Stroger beat Republican Tony Peraica
in the ward by 13,651-8,261. The ward has 30,044
registered voters, but Democrat John Kerry got
19,042 votes and Bush got 4,750 in 2004. There is
a growing "reform" and Republican base
vote, which won't go to the alderman. Shiller got
6,240 votes in 2003 (58 percent of the votes
cast), winning by a margin of 1,704 votes; in 1999
she got 6,272 votes and won by 1,250 votes (with
55.5 percent of the vote).
prediction: Shiller's core vote is under 6,000.
That means her 2007 foe, James Cappleman, needs a
turnout of more than 12,000. That won't happen.
Shiller will win again, but just barely.
Ward: If ducks and geese could vote, Moore would
win in a waddle. But Moore's Rogers Park ward is a
hotbed of development, with a diverse mix of condo
conversions, new construction, housing renovation
and spacious apartments near the lake. The ward
has a growing population of singles and gays. But
old problems persist: Drug dealing, primarily by
Jamaican gangs, especially along the Evanston
border, a sluggish commercial district and a
a protege of Cook County Clerk David Orr, won in
2003 with 55 percent of the vote, getting just
3,693 votes. He won in 1999 with 64 percent,
getting 4,122 votes, in 1995 with 69 percent,
getting 4,368 votes, and his first term in 1991,
getting 5,842 votes (52 percent) in the runoff.
His base is shriveling. My prediction: Don Gordon,
Jim Ginderske and Chris Adams are running against
Moore, with Gordon backed by the ward's business
community. Expect a runoff, and expect Daley to
make an effort to beat the pesky Moore. But Moore
Ward: A stop sign may be Vi Daley's salvation. She
sponsored an ordinance to increase fines for
motorists to run stop signs in reaction to a
hit-and-run death in her ward. Her four opponents
are blasting her for allowing unbridled
development in the ward and for supporting the
mayor amidst all the city's corruption, but she
postures as a protector of the ward.
foes are Michele Smith, a former assistant U.S.
attorney who is backed by former alderman Marty
Oberman, Rachel Goodstein, the head of the Friends
of Meigs Field, the group which wanted to keep the
airport open; Tim Egan, a hospital administrator
and the son-in-law of cosmetics magnate Marilyn
Miglin, and political activist and writer Pete
Zelchenko. All are maneuvering to finish second.
prediction: Egan is spending liberally, but his
credentials are thin. Smith and Goodstein are
splitting the "reform" vote. Zelchenko
lacks money. Expect a Daley-Smith runoff, which
Smith will win.