Alderman Laurino avoids runoff election in 39th Ward aldermanic race
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Alderman Margaret Laurino won reelection on Feb. 24 to her sixth full term on the City Council against candidates Robert Murphy and Joseph Laiacona in the 39th Ward aldermanic race, avoiding a runoff election in April.
Laurino received 5,840 votes, or 53 percent of the total, Murphy received 4,740 votes, or 43 percent, and Laiacona received 436 votes, or 4 percent.
"I feel fabulous and I want to thank the people of the 39th Ward for electing me and supporting me," Laurino said. "We never take anything for granted, but I think that we ran a campaign that we wanted to and it was a tight race but it was a good race."
Laurino said that she was honored that her constituents voted for her and helped her avoid a runoff on April 7.
"It’s been a crazy night. Every election night is like a roller coaster ride and I have to shake so many people’s hands now, and thank everybody for being elected, and then maybe open a bottle of wine," Laurino said.
Laurino held onto her lead throughout the evening as vote totals were being reported.
"It has been a privilege to serve my constituents, addressing their needs in the ward and representing their interests in the City Council. I look forward to working with all my constituents over the next four year to make the 39th even better," Laurino said.
Laurino also commented on her opposition and said that both candidates ran spirited campaigns.
"Robert Murphy is a very viable candidate and he ran a spirited and energetic campaign and I look forward to working on some of the issues that he has raised," Laurino said. "I have a laundry list of issues that I will address during my term, but right now I just want to extend a hand to my competition and let them know that they ran a good race."
During the campaign, several issues were discussed at various debates held on the Northwest Side including airplane noise, economic development, tax increment financing districts, spending and issues with the CTA Forest Glen bus yard at Elston and Bryn Mawr avenues.
Laurino touted her record of accomplishment during the campaign in the areas of public safety and education and that she has clamped down on liquor licenses, supported tougher gun laws and harsher penalties for gun crimes, and worked to help seniors. She said that she also has worked to relieve overcrowding in schools by lobbying for mobile units and school additions in the ward.
"I look forward to continue to address these issues," Laurino said at a debate in January held at the Elston Avenue United Methodist Church, 5850 N. Elston Ave., that was sponsored by the Indian Woods Community Association. "Infrastructure and service delivery are essential to our quality of life, and we need to invest in our neighborhoods and the business corridor."
Murphy, who is an architect and a past president of the Forest Glen Community Association, has said that he wanted to make the ward better by involving residents in the decision-making process. Murphy also worked on Alderman John Arena’s campaign in 2011 when he lived in an area in the 45th Ward that is in the 39th Ward after redistricting.
Murphy, who was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, was the co-founder of the Fair Allocation In Runways Coalition.
"It is what it is. The reality is that a lot of people wake up 10 to 15 days before the election and if I had to do it over again I would have walked around the ward more," Murphy said. "I walked the 44th precinct and I won that and I should have walked the 45th precinct more.
"It was a lot of work and we ran a good campaign. It takes a lot out of you. I took a lot of questions and I was willing to take that on. The alderman has made a lot of promises and people will have to hold her to it. People deserve a voice on the pressing issues of the ward," Murphy said.
At a debate, Murphy told residents that their needs were being underserved by Laurino. "You haven’t gotten anything special in the 39th Ward despite all the money you pay in your taxes," Murphy told residents.
Laiacona, who ran unsuccessfully against Deb Mell in 2010 Democratic primary for state representative in the 40th Illinois House District, said that an alderman must listen, be approachable and be present in the ward. He said that city services are not provided in a timely manner in the ward.
In 2011, Laurino defeated Mary Hunter in the 39th Ward aldermanic race 7,765-2,402, getting 76.4 percent of the vote.
In that race, three candidates originally filed to run against Laurino. Matthew Robertson and Lyndon Johnson both were knocked off the ballot, and Hunter had to survive a lengthy challenge to the validity of the signatures on her nominating petition to stay on.
Laurino was appointed alderman in 1994 to replace her retiring father, Anthony Laurino, and went on to win elections in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. She ran unopposed in 2003.
Laurino also serves as the City Council’s President Pro Tempore and she is a member of the Council Committees on Budget and Government Operations, Committees, Rules and Ethics, Finance, Workforce Development and Audit, and Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards. She also oversees the City Council Legislative Reference Bureau.