Here Are 11 Races to Watch in the 2023 Chicago Elections

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The Chicago mayoral election is dominating all of the headlines in the city, but there are plenty of other intriguing races that are worth keeping an eye on Tuesday.

A slew of City Council members have opted not to run for reelection this year, meaning that there will be significantly more turnover than usual on the 50-member council.

Still other members are facing tough reelection bids, making for a fascinating election season.

Here are some of the races we’re keeping our eyes on during election season.

1st Ward        

Ald. Daniel La Spata captured the first ward seat during the 2019 election season, and now the member of the Progressive Caucus and Socialist Caucus is aiming to keep that seat in a four-way race.

The big name going up against him is Proco Joe Moreno, who lost his seat to La Spata in the 2019 race. During that run, Moreno was charged with insurance fraud and obstruction of justice for falsely reporting that his car had been stolen. He pleaded guilty in that case, and also pleaded guilty on charges of drunk driving and reckless driving after sideswiping multiple cars in Gold Coast.

Those charges have since been wiped from his record, and he was ruled eligible to run again for a City Council seat. He has since opened up about his battle against alcoholism in a series of interviews.

Sam Royko, an attorney and son of the legendary Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko, is also running in the race, and overcame a challenge to his candidacy based on a dispute over his home address. He has pledged to push for safer neighborhoods by increasing beat patrols and filling vacancies, and also has pledged to make residents safer by improving bike lanes and parking options, according to his website.

Andy Schneider, who has worked to “bring affordable housing and new developments” to neighborhoods throughout the ward, according to his website, is also on the ballot to challenge La Spata.

5th Ward

Ald. Leslie Hairston, who has been on the City Council since 1999, announced her retirement in August, paving the way for 11 candidates to run to replace her as the representative of an area that includes parts of Hyde Park and South Shore.

The list of contenders includes Renita Q. Ward, Marlene Fisher, Joshua Gray, Robert Palmer, Martina Hone, Jocelyn Hare, Dialika Perkins, Desmon Yancy, Kris Levy, Gabriel Piemonte, and Wallace Goode Jr.

If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote on Feb. 28, a runoff will take place between the top-two finishers.

The 2023 Chicago Mayoral Election is just four days away. But between the latest poll results and the latest numbers of mail-in ballots coming in, residents may not know who their next city leader will be until March, or even April. Lisa Chavarria has more.

6th Ward

Another hotly-contested race is also taking place in the city’s sixth ward, with Ald. Roderick Sawyer stepping aside as he runs for mayor.

The group includes Sylvester Baker Jr., Richard Wooten, O. Patrick Brutus, Barbara Bunville, Kirby Birgans, Paul Bryson Sr., William Hall, Aja Kearney, Sharon Pincham, Tavares Briggs, and Kimberly Egonmwan.

Among that group, Birgans ran an unsuccessful primary campaign for U.S. House in 2022, falling to eventual winner Rep. Jonathan Jackson.

Brutus ran against former Rep. Bobby Rush in the 2016 primary.

Hall is the senior pastor at St. James Community Church, and has worked with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. He was endorsed by United Working Families and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

14th Ward

Ald. Ed Burke, the longest-serving City Council member in history, won’t run for reelection in 2023, leaving a two-way race brewing for the seat that represents parts of Gage Park and Archer Heights.

Jeylú Gutierrez is one of those candidates, serving as a district director for Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya, according to her website. She is pushing to bring more equity to the process of improving infrastructure and economic outlooks in her ward, among other pledges.

Raul Reyes has run for City Council before, losing in the first round of the 2015 election the 15th ward to eventual winner Ald. Ray Lopez.

"Crime and public safety" rank highest among top issues by Chicago voters ahead of the Feb. 28 municipal election, particularly when choosing the next mayor, according to results released this week from an independent poll commissioned by Telemundo Chicago, NBC 5, the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ. NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern reports.

19th Ward

Ald. Matthew O’Shea is seeking a fourth term on the City Council, but the wrinkle in his race is that he not only is facing two challengers in Timothy Noonan and Michael Cummings, but he’s also facing a push from the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed him in 2019 but is instead backing Cummings.

According to his campaign website and Block Club Chicago, Cummings, a retired CPD sergeant, is pushing for a system where police officers would work four 10-hour days, thereby guaranteeing themselves at least two days off per week if they’re called in for additional time.

He also says he would support the removal of Supt. David Brown from office.

Noonan has also centered his campaign around public safety, aiming to bolster police resources while also allocating funds for additional mental health professionals to respond to emergency calls and encouraging young Chicago residents to seek employment to keep them away from drugs and gang activity.

He was recently endorsed by the public transit advocacy group CTAction.

O’Shea is basing his reelection bid on his support of police officers, launching private security pilot programs, acquiring funding for an officer-wellness facility and promoting security camera registration, according to his website.

He also has pushed for upgrades to local schools, and has aimed to attract new businesses to different parts of the city.

21st Ward

After the retirement of Ald. Howard Brookins, a total of seven candidates are vying to replace him on the City Council.

That group includes Cornell Dantzler, Preston Brown Jr., Larry Lloyd, Ronnie Mosley, Daliah Goree, Ayana Clark, and Kweli Kwaza.

Mosley received the endorsement of Pritzker in the election, and works for a variety of local organizations as a community activist, according to his Ballotpedia page and website.

Former Rep. Bobby Rush has endorsed Clark for the job. She worked as a community advocate for Rush Medical Center prior to her run for public office.

Brown previously ran in the 34th Ward, but lost to Ald. Carrie Austin in the 2019 election. He works in the telecommunications and security industries, according to his website.

Lloyd is a practicing attorney who lives in Washington Heights, and says he will work to improve the “quality of life” in the ward by pushing for additional police patrols and additional funding for crime deterrence programs.

Goree is a long-time Chicago police officer, and she is active in a variety of community groups, including Girls 4 Science, Flourish PAC and America’s Big Sisters Foundation, according to her website.

Dantzler is a retired Chicago firefighter, and told Block Club Chicago that if elected he would not only focus on public safety, but also on improving infrastructure in the ward.

Kwaza, who holds a PhD in psychology from Mational Louis University, has served as a community liaison in the ward since 2015, and has won numerous awards, including the Brookins Lifetime Achievement Award, according to his website.

Amid a recent rise in the polls, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas has faced increased attacks from Congressman Chuy Garcia and incumbent Lori Lightfoot as the election nears, NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports.

24th Ward

Ald. Monique Scott was recently appointed to this West Side ward, but she’s facing a tough election battle as she goes up against seven different contenders.

Her campaign for a full term is centered on a variety of issues, according to her website, including increased economic development, reducing vacant lots and businesses, and to eliminate the “food desert” that has caused serious issues for residents of the area.

The group going up against her includes Larry Nelson, Luther Woodruff, Vetress Boyce, Edward Ward, Creative Scott, Drewone Goldsmith, and Traci Treasure Johnson.

Boyce came close to a City Council seat before, advancing to a runoff in the 24th ward before falling to former Ald. Michael Scott Jr. in 2015.

Nelson also ran in that race, but only received 1.9% of the vote in a crowded 10-person field during the general election.

Treasure Johnson received 15.6% of the vote, finishing in third place in a 2019 run against Michael Scott. Creative Scott received 18.7% of the vote in that race, but couldn’t keep Michael from winning in the first round of balloting.

Chicago Ald. Tom Tunney, retiring from his post in the 44th ward at the conclusion of his term, has endorsed former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in the 2023 mayoral election. Mary Ann Ahern reports.

34th Ward

Ald. Carrie Austin, facing federal charges, opted not to run for reelection, and two candidates are vying for her seat.

Bill Conway, a Naval Reserve intelligence officer and former prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, says he will prioritize public safety through increased investment in police and mental health service, while promising to “thoughtfully develop” business opportunities within the ward, according to his website.

Jim Ascot, a realtor who serves as the president of the Chicago Association of Realtors, says that he would aim to help eradicate homelessness in the community, as well as aiming to reduce crime and bringing more efficiency to government services.

43rd Ward

Ald. Timmy Knudsen is facing five challengers for his seat, which represents a wide swath of Lincoln Park.

Knudsen, who was appointed to replace Ald. Michele Smith in the summer of 2022, has pledged additional resources for public safety and for public transit, and has pledged to crack down on illegal weapons as part of a broad effort to combat violence in the city.

Brian Comer, Rebecca Janowitz, Steve Botsford, Steven McClellan, and Wendi Taylor Nations all have filed petitions to run against Knudsen.

Janowitz, an attorney, has worked with low-income and underserved communities, and she has pledged to focus not just on public safety, but also on protecting abortion rights in the city.

Botsford’s social media feed focuses his efforts on reducing crime and also on increasing economic growth on the city’s North Side.

McClellan serves as a board member on the Local School Council at LaSalle Language Academy, and he has worked to create programs like the 1800 Hudson/Cleveland Green Alley Project, according to his website. His focuses will be on public safety and on education, as both of his parents were CPS teachers.

Taylor Nations has lived in Lincoln Park for nearly 30 years, serving as CMO for World Business Chicago. Her emphasis will be on creating jobs and bringing more companies to the city, as well as instituting a public safety plan and a tax plan dedicated to reducing burdens on residents across the area.

Mayoral candidates Paul Vallas and Chuy García exchanged attacks as the 2023 Chicago mayoral election nears, NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports.

45th Ward

Ald. Jim Gardiner, a firefighter, is running for a second term in office, but he’s far from alone, running against a total of five challengers.

Gardiner has been at the center of some serious controversy during his time on the City Council, allegedly harassing and threatening campaign volunteers for opponent Marija Tomic. He also has faced FBI probes into his office, and used a derogatory term in referring to Ald. Scott Waguespack’s chief of staff as a “b—ch,” according to Block Club Chicago.

He later apologized for the comments.

Gardiner has highlighted his work on avoiding property tax increases, and also has pushed back on efforts to strengthen gun control laws in the city.

He is opposed by a group that includes Susanna Ernst, Megan Mathias, Ana Santoyo, Marija Tomic, and James Suh.

Ernst has pledged on her website to serve as a uniter rather than a divider, and says she will focus on equity in providing services to constituents, as well as bolstering local businesses in a variety of ways.

Mathias, an attorney, has campaigned on a platform emphasizing reopening mental health centers and encouraging economic opportunity as tools to combat crime. She also wants to expand access to reproductive health care in the city.

Santoyo, a community organizer, is campaigning on a platform that pushes for housing equity, arguing that it is a human right, and she also has pledged to strengthen the city’s pushes for police reform.

Tomic is a finance and accounting manager in Chicago, and says she would work to address crime by focusing police resources in neighborhoods that need it most, while also restoring access to mental health services.

Suh, a businessman and community activist in Portage Park, has publicly accused Gardiner of publicizing his arrest record as retaliation for public criticisms against the alderperson.

“It’s not about challenging him for his office,” Suh told CBS. “It really is just about wanting to bring change to the community.”  

48th Ward

Ald. Harry Osterman’s seat is up for grabs after his retirement, with 10 total candidates still in the running.

Larry Svabek, Nick Ward, Joe Dunne, Andre Peloquin, Brian Haag, Isaac Freilich Jones, Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, Roxanne Volkmann, Andy Peters, and Nassir Faulkner are all running for the position.

The 48th ward encompasses most of the Edgewater neighborhood in the city, and Osterman had served on the City Council for three terms.

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