Ward committeeman defeated


Forest Glen resident Robert Murphy received about 55 percent of the vote in the race for 39th Ward Democratic committeeman, defeating incumbent Patrick Molloy in the March 15 election.

With all 45 precincts reporting, Murphy had 5,890 votes to 4,875 votes for Molloy, according the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. Murphy said that he won 32 of the ward’s precincts.

Last year Molloy replaced longtime committeeman Randy Barnette, who is married to Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th), after Barnette resigned. Molloy, a Sauganash resident, works as the director of government and public affairs for the Chicago Public Library.

Murphy received 43 percent of the vote when ran against Laurino for alderman in a three-candidate race in 2015. His election as committeeman is expected to fuel speculation that he might run for alderman in 2019.

Murphy said that it is premature to discuss running for alderman and that his immediate focus will be to create "a more open and transparent" ward organization.

Murphy said that he will seek opinions on decisions about which candidates will be endorsed by the ward organization. "It is not just going to be Robert Murphy saying it is this person," he said. "I’m putting out an open invitation to anyone who wants to get involved."

Ward organizations traditionally had precinct captains who visited homes, but in the era of social media, some committeemen have focused on other ways to promote candidates. "We’re going to look at other models in the city so we can see how you can get out the most vote," he said.

During the his campaign, Murphy said that the Laurino family had controlled political positions in the ward for too long and had created a climate of fear in which some ward residents were afraid to express their political beliefs. Murphy has said that some of his supporters feared "repercussions after the election" if they posted a sign for his campaign and that in many instances his signs were stolen from lawns.

Murphy, an architect and a past president of the Forest Glen Community Club, was a founding member of the Fair Allocation In Runways Coalition, which is working to reduce jet noise from O’Hare Airport. Another founding member was Jac Charlier, who lost his bid in the Democratic primary to unseat 15th District state Representative John D’Amico, who is Laurino’s nephew.

In a Facebook posting, Murphy called his victory "bittersweet" because his friend Charlier did not win. "Tonight, instead of saying I’m looking forward to building a better 39, I now can confidently say we will," he said.

Murphy also thanked his volunteers. "It was me and 100 others knocking on doors," he said.

In a statement issued during the campaign, Molloy said, "If you ask those that I have worked closely with over the years, regardless of their feelings toward other local officials, they will tell you that I have always worked hard on behalf of communities in the ward."

The 39th Ward includes Sauganash, Indian Woods, Forest Glen and parts of Mayfair, Gladstone Park and Edgebrook.