Emanuel wins poll of candidates for 43rd Ward aldermanic seat

14 Jan
Ald. Vi Daley (center), who is not seeking re-election, was just another face in the crowd in the 43d Ward forum for candidates seeking to replace her. Photo by Jennifer Schanz

Ald. Vi Daley (center), who is not seeking re-election, was just another face in the crowd in the 43rd Ward forum for candidates seeking to replace her. (Photo by Jennifer Schanz)

By Jennifer Schanz

The voting is more than a month away, but Rahm Emanuel won an unofficial balloting of aldermanic candidates Thursday night in a 43rd Ward election forum organized by the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce and hosted by DePaul University in its Student Center.

It was not a landslide, however. City council candidates Rafael Vargas and Carmen Olmetti decidedly said Emanuel was their choice while Charles Eastwood, long-time chief of staff for current Ald. Vi Daley, said he favored anyone from this trio—Emanuel, Gery Chico or Miguel del Valle.

Meanwhile, aldermanic candidate Michele Smith, noting she is a Democratic committeeman from the ward, did not make a commitment. Neither did forum participants Bita Buenrostro or Mitch Newman. Another candidate, Tim Egan, did not attend the event because his wife was in labor with twins hours before the start.

The event was moderated by former WLS-TV reporter Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association (BGA). A respectful overflow of several hundred spectators included current Ald. Daley as well as past ward alderman Martin Oberman. Another forum for the 32nd Ward, which includes parts of Lincoln Park and the DePaul campus, was scheduled for next Thursday.

The lineup at the 43rd Ward aldermanic candidate forum from left: Bita Buenrostro, Charles Eastwood, Mitch newman, Carmen Olmetti, Michele Smith, Rafael Varga, and (standing) Andy Shaw, moderator. (Photo by Jenn Schanz)

The lineup at the 43rd Ward aldermanic candidate forum from left: Bita Buenrostro, Charles Eastwood, Mitch Newman, Carmen Olmetti, Michele Smith, Rafael Vargas and (standing) Andy Shaw, moderator. (Photo by Brianna Kelly)

Shaw, a Lincoln Park resident, touched on everything with his prepared questions, including, infrastructure development, zoning issues, taxes and spending, to small business concerns, public parking and mobile food trucks. One of the biggest issues, sure to be on the front burner for Ald. Daley’s successor, will be the future for the property occupied by Children’s Memorial Hospital after it moves to Streeterville.

While Buenrostro earned some crowd approval for her comedic response to the 43rd ward’s budget crisis and her blatant push for the ward’s improved relationship with the media, Smith earned applause for her disapproval of the Lincoln Park Hospital idea and her uncompromising stance on tax increases. “Our city cannot stand a tax increase right now,” the committeewoman said.

TIF reform, education, historic preservation and infrastructure projects like Finkl Steel Children’s Memorial, and Lincoln Park Hospital also were hot topics at the forum, with some sentiment being expressed for more public schools in the ward.

Most, but not all, opposed Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis’s plan for increasing resources in high crime districts at the expense of lower crime zones such as Lincoln Park. The question of big box corporations like Wal-Mart setting up shop in the ward was met with this response from Newman: “Oy.”

Candidates were also asked to pinpoint the 43rd ward’s two most important issues, to which a common response was budget and crime control.

What can be considered as an overall mellow and reserved political discussion, Thursday’s candidate forum was an opportunity for constituents to meet the ward’s contenders, as they begin to imagine a 43rd ward without an alderman named Daley for the first time in 12 years.

“Democracy at work,” said one attendee exiting the event.

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One Response to “Emanuel wins poll of candidates for 43rd Ward aldermanic seat”

  1. LincolnPark43Watcher January 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Michele is an officer of the court but knowingly breaks election law:

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