Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

The 5 Most Independent Aldermen

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    NEWSLETTERS

    BOB FIORETTI, 2nd Ward: The City Council’s leading rebel, Fioretti considered running for mayor last year, but decided against it because he was receiving treatment for tonsil cancer. That didn’t stop his rivalry with Rahm Emanuel, though. Fioretti has voted “no” on the two most controversial measures to come before the Council this year: the Parade and Permit Ordinance, which gave the mayor expanded powers to deal with anti-NATO demonstrations, and the Speed Camera ordinance. Fioretti also tried to block the ward remap, which moved his South Loop-based 2nd Ward to the Near North Side, eliminating his seat. Maybe that was a lesson for future dissenters. But now he has even less reason to curry favor with the mayor.

    LESLIE HAIRSTON, 5th Ward: Hairston represents the most independent ward in the city, so it would be shocking if she didn’t make this list. Hyde Parkers never needed patronage, so they were always free to rage against the machine. Ald. Leon Despres was admired for being the “1” on the losing end of civil rights ordinance, and for hectoring Mayor Richard J. Daley until his microphone was cut off. Hairston has continued the tradition of being a thorn in the mayoral buttocks. Providing necessary skepticism to both Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel, Hairston voted no on the parking meter deal, and spoke out against the Infrastructure Trust, saying, “The money in the Trust is not free. It is borrowed. It must be repaid with interest. That interest will come from user fees and taxes. These are the things we’re trying to avoid burdening them with, but we’re going to saddle them with more.”

    RICARDO MUNOZ, 22nd Ward: Munoz began his career as an aide to Ald. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, one of Chicago’s most admired progressive politicians. When Garcia went to the state senate, Munoz was appointed to fill his seat. A member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, Munoz supported the Big Box Ordinance, which produced Daley’s only mayoral veto. This week, he warned that the Infrastructure Trust could lead to the appointment of Chicago’s own Robert Moses, an unelected urban planner who bulldozes neighborhoods to make room for his pet projects. Wrote Kyle Hillman on Chicago Now: “his last election attempt to unseat Dorthy Brown as County Clerk was met with very little support from the establishment…Add to all this the new revival of the Better Government Association, and there may be no greater position for a non-establishment candidate to be in than on the outside commenting in. Munoz could easily move into Gutierrez’s Congressional seat whenever that opens up.”

    SCOTT WAGUESPACK, 32nd Ward: Waguespack began his career by defeating Ald. Ted Matlak, the scion of one of the oldest political organizations in Chicago: the Rostenkowskis’ Northwest Side machine. Almost immediately, he began feuding with his committeeman, John Fritchey, who retaliated by running a candidate against him in 2011. Waguespack became an idol of the independent movement by casting one of five votes against Mayor Daley’s parking meter deal, correctly calling it shortsighted. “We are privatizing something for a quick shot in the arm.” Waguespack isn’t a “no” vote machine. He usually has constructive alternatives to ordinances he opposes. On the speed camera bill, he suggested using speed bumps and roundabouts to slow traffic. He also filed an alternative Infrastructure Trust Ordinance that would have given more control and oversight to the City Council.

    NICHOLAS SPOSATO, 36th Ward: The freshman won office by defeating appointee John Rice, the driver of former Ald. William J.P. Banks. So far, Sposato has been mostly a contrarian, voting against Emanuel on most controversial issues: the Parade and Permit Ordinance, the Speed Camera Ordinance.(He voted against tabling Waguespack's alternative Infrastructure Trust ordinance, but voted for the mayor's version in the final vote.) Along with Fioretti, Sposato was an odd man out in the ward remap, losing most of his precincts as the 36th became a Latino-majority ward. Not sure if that was a punishment for his independence, or if he now figures he has nothing to lose by voting his conscience.