September 21, 2022

There is a lot of room on the Left and it’s getting crowded. As Chicago’s 2023 aldermanic  field develops, with a filing deadline of Nov. 29, there is a surprising smidgen of diversity and it’s toward the Center.

There are some MCGA candidates, an acronym for “Make Chicago Great Again.” There are some KLL candidates, an acronym for “Keep Lori Lightfoot.”  And there is a plethora of EMA candidates, an acronym for “Enact My Agenda,” mostly on the north Lakefront and Latino wards but not on the Northwest Side.

They range from fringe moderates, which means the vanishing breed of Center/Left Democrats, to Woke/Leftist “progressives,” which means Left/Left, to “democratic socialists” and outright socialists, which means the stridently anti-capitalist fringe Left. Once upon a time liberals shouted “Power to the People.” Now they espouse “Power Over the People” – by a government which they control, although it’s not just liberals who like to control.

To date 18 alderpersons of the 50 elected in 2019 have bailed with more to come, possibly Nick Sposato (38th), Emma Mitts (37th), Marty Quinn (13th) and Ed Burke (14th), whose federal trial starts November 2023. So why the mass exodus?

To be concise, it’s because of what I’d like to call a collapse of dignity, decorum and institutional respect. The dress code is gone. No more suits and ties. Hoodies and flip-flops may soon arrive. Maybe even pajama pants. City Councl proceedings now resemble a movie theatre, with members talking on their cell phones and to each other, walking around or out, while Lightfoot imperiously conducts deliberations. It’s become like a school board meeting – you know, what the DOJ claims are crowded with disruptive “domestic terrorists.” Chaos poisons governing.

And committee meetings are on Zoom, ordinances passed go to the Rules Committee, run by Lightfoot ally Michelle Harris, and most disappear. The only personal intercourse is at council meetings, where many alderpersons despise each other. Sposato was famously quoted as calling Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) a “pile of (expletive).”

As an incentive and enticement to stay, the council gave itself an almost 10 percent pay raise, from $130,500  to the maximum $143,000 and kept its 3 percent COLA.  But it’s actually a disincentive. Alderpersons get an 80 percent pension after 10 years, so veterans can quit and collect $104,000 rather than stay, work 24/7 and collect $143,000. Bailing is almost a no-brainer.

38TH WARD (Dunning, Belmont Heights, Galewood and Cumberland corridor): Sposato was elected in 2011, so he has his pension. He will announce his 2023 plans around Sept. 29. He loaned his campaign $100,000 so as to deter opposition, but he has two opponents, and a third in-waiting: Greg Schorsch, whose family developed the Schorsch Village area a century ago and Bruce Randazzo, who lost in 2011. Schorsch rips Sposato for not doing enough to make Chicago a sanctuary city. Janelle Clausen, a former SEIU operative and now a lobbyist, told Sposato she would run if he didn’t. “She said she couldn’t beat me,” Sposato remarked.
Sposato has already picked his successor, but said he will run again if he’s not confident that that person will win. He’s polling now.

45TH WARD (Portage Park, Jefferson Park, Gladstone Park): Voters may have short memories, but political campaigns invariably resurrect past indiscretions. Alderman Jim Gardiner, elected in 2019 with 50.9 percent, defeating two-termer John Arena, got into a public scrape by texting crude remarks about people, including calling women profane names. He has apologized publicly at a City Council meeting. But that doesn’t erase the deed. And it will surely comeback into the forefront closer to the election.

Megan Mathias, an attorney from Old Irving, has been campaigning for over a year, promising “respectful leadership” and “no gamesmanship.” “I’m running on my own,” she said. Also in the race are Marija Tomic, trumpeting a pro-police, low-tax, cut-spending platform, and Susanna Ernst, active in promoting landmark status for shuttered Our Lady of Victory Church.

It should be remembered that Gardiner won a 2019 majority or plurality in 33 of the ward’s 48 precincts, getting 5,382 votes, and beat Arena-backed Ellen Hill for committeeman in 2020, winning 29 precincts and getting 5,559 votes. Is that base 5,000-plus crumbling? I think not. Turnout was 14,858 in 2019, with 4 candidates; it will be a like number in 2023 – with 4 candidates. If Arena’s faction gets behind Mathias, she will force a runoff. If they support somebody else, perhaps Ernst, Gardiner will still be under 50 percent on Feb. 28 and in a runoff. Gardiner is defeatable, but he may be hard to beat. The real question is whether voters have abandoned him for all of those “profane” texts he had to apologize for or will stick with him and the development he is bringing into the ward.

36TH WARD (Montclare, Streeterville, Ukrainian Village): Gilber Villegas, elected in 2015, ran an abysmal campaign for Congress this year, losing the primary 66.4-23.1 percent to Delia Ramirez, carrying his 36th Ward by 57 percent. But that doesn’t mean he’s toast in 2023. Villegas is chair of the Latino Caucus, which drew a map to add another Latino ward and a contiguous ward for himself.

Instead, the White/Black alliance majority drew a map which puts Villegas in great peril, crafting a ward which runs from Montclare, Villegas’s base, at Grand/Harlem/Belmont all the way down to Wood and Grace in Streeterville/Ukrainian Village, connected by a long strip of Grand Avenue. This West Town area is gentrifying and comprises half the ward, so Villegas needs to sell himself there real quick. The only other candidate is David Herrera, who lost in the 26th Ward in 2019.

33RD  WARD (Ravenswood Manor, south Albany Park to Addison): Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez is another Ramirez-Rosa acolyte, and a socialist. The ward is now about 60 percent Latino, and Rodriguez Sanchez precipitated the demise of the 43-year Dick Mell Dynasty by upsetting Deb Mell by 13 votes in the 2019 runoff. The vote was 5,754-5,741. In the primary she got 42.1 percent to Mell’s 41.3.  She then got half of the other anti-Mell vote.

Next year there will be an anti-Rodriguez Sanchez vote, but not likely a majority. Iris Martinez, now Clerk of the Circuit Court, was elected committeeman in 2020. Her focus is on electing women, not Wokesters. But she bombed this year when her “Women for Change” slate lost, and she lost for state central committeewoman to Delia Ramirez, even losing her 33rd Ward 2,993-2,246.

Circulating petitions are Laith Schaaban, who has been door-knocking for over a year.

A source close to Martinez said her organization will interview and endorse a Rodriguez Sanchez foe. But expect the CTU to come in with money and United Working Families (UWF) with workers. Rodriguez Sanchez will be tough to beat.

26TH WARD (Logan Square, Humboldt Park): Roberto Maldonado, a onetime protégé of Luis Gutierrez, is not gone, but he’s getting there. Maldonado won with 50.6 percent in 2019 in an 8,764 turnout. His vote of 4,431 against two foes was 49 above 50 percent, He won 33 of 49 precincts. In 2020 he got beat for committeeman 4,068-3,527 by Angee Gonzalez Rodriguez, who is now running against him for alderperson. Maldonado won only 18 of 49 precincts. Also running is Julian “Jumpin’” Perez, a popular DJ on Latino radio. Expect a runoff and expect Maldonado to lose.

30TH WARD (Avondale, Hermosa): Ariel Reboyras broke into politics in the early1990s with Daley’s HDO, got elected alderman in 2003, and focuses on providing ward services, not rhetoric. He had a very tough runoff in 2019 against Jessica Gutierrez, the ex-congressman’s daughter, winning 4,097-3.795, getting 51.9 percent and carrying 19 of 32 precincts. The pro-police Reboyras, once chair of the Public Safety Committee, is retiring, and Gutierrez, a Woke Leftist, has essentially cleared the field for 2023.

1ST WARD (West Town, Wicker Park south to Milwaukee/Ashland): Comebacks are very difficult, and comebacks with baggage are next to impossible – especially after voters bounce you out. But “Proco” Joe Moreno thinks voters will regret and rethink their 7,326-4,635 2019 decision to elect Socialist Daniel LaSpata, who got 61.3 percent, carried 39 of 44 precincts, and just happened to be Moreno’s only opponent.

Moreno got into a scrape when allegedly “loaned” his luxury car to his girlfriend, but then reported it stolen and filed an insurance claim, and got charged. He also pleaded guilty to a DUI charge after crashing a car into several parked cars in Gold Coast.

Also running is Sam Royko, attorney son of the late iconic columnist Mike Royko. The ward is about 60/40 Latino/White. Expect a runoff. If it’s LaSpata-Royko, LaSpata will lose.

29TH WARD (West Austin): Chris Taliaferro wants out. He ran for judge in the 11th subcircuit this year, but lost to an Oak Park woman. Nevertheless, he carried his ward with 62.1 percent and won in 2019 with 56.7 percent. His only foe thus far is Republican committeeman Walter Adamczyk. Expect Taliaferro to get picked as an associate judge in 2023.

For present and future alderpersons, count on this: Fun times are not ahead.

Might as well bring the hoodies, pajamas and the flip-flops.

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