Looking for a good measure on how much energy and enthusiasm is building up for City Council elections in 2015?
As of this writing, there are only three races expected to be uncontested in 2015—one in the 14th Ward, one in the 42nd Ward and one in the 48th Ward.
In every other ward in the city, at least one challenger has announced their intentions or taken concrete steps to run.
That’s according to Aldertrack.com, a Chicago city political news site that keeps tabs on who’s running in every aldermanic race across the city.
While basic democracy might suggest no incumbent for any office should go unopposed, that’s not always been the case in Chicago municipal elections. In 2011, for example, aldermen in seven wards ran unopposed. In 2007, nine alderman ran unchallenged on Election Day.
Of course, nothing’s guaranteed in Chicago politics, and a lot can happen between now and the November deadlines for filing candidate petitions.
Of the more than 225 identified or potential candidates Aldertrack has tallied so far, political reality says that a significant number will either not complete the filing process, be kicked off the ballot for technical reasons or lose a petition challenge mounted by an incumbent or another political operator.
And, just because someone makes the ballot is no reason to assume they know how to beat a sitting alderman come crunch time.
Still, what’s notable about this election, even this early in the cycle, is that a potentially strong anti-incumbent movement seems to be building citywide when it comes to City Council races.
Some wards, such as the 2nd, 9th, 18th and 29th, just to name a few, already have at least six expected challengers lined up.
Other wards, once expected to be quiet races with little activity, are seeing challengers getting ready to run. Here, races in the 8th, 10th, 37th and 50th wards come to mind, among others.
And some wards, such as the 23rd, 33rd or 40th, could see a long-time mayoral ally face an unexpectedly strong challenger.
Undoubtedly, much of the enthusiasm and activity this early in the cycle can be attributed to widespread feelings of distrust and dislike for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Much like the essential critiques being offered in the mayor’s race by opponents Bob Fioretti and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, many candidates at the ward level feel the city is headed in the wrong direction, and see City Council as an effective means to express their discontent.
For their part, Aldermen Ed Burke (14), Brendan Reilly (42) and Harry Osterman (48) may be able to enjoy their easy ride back into City hall as incumbents running unopposed.
But, judging from how the 2015 cycle appears to be shaping up, maybe even these Council stalwarts should be watching their back.