Anti-Arena robocall comes from former member of the Progressive Caucus which Arena serves on
by BRIAN NADIG
In a strange twist, mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti’s campaign is sending out robocalls calling for the ouster of Alderman John Arena (45th), who has positioned himself as an alderman who fights corruption.
“I urge you to vote for anyone other than John Arena for alderman. John Arena is part of the culture of corruption, and it’s time for him to go,” Fiorettii said in the call.
“It’s disappointing that Bob Fioretti has taken a hard right turn in recent years and has sold out the progressive values he once espoused. I’m proud to continue to fight against corruption and for ethics reform in City Hall, and I am confident that residents of the 45th Ward will stand with me in that fight,” Arena said in a statement.
In an interview, Fioretti said that he made similar robocalls opposing the re-election of Alderman Ed Burke (14th) and Alderman Patrick O’Connor (40th). He said that “insider” politics must come to an end, criticizing Arena for his connections to Cook County Democratic Party chairwoman and Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle.
Fioretti’s remarks are in contrast to the endorsements Arena has received from several elected officials, including U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-5), state Representative Will Guzzardi (D-39) and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-10). Quigley has praised Arena for making Chicago government “more accountable to taxpayers” and for being “an independent voice for our community.”
Preckwinkle endorsed Arena in 2015 and hosted a fund-raiser for him in 2017. The campaigns of both Preckwinkle and Arena are funded by the Chicago Teachers Union and the Service International Employees Union.
Preckwinkle, who is running for mayor and defeated Fioretti in the 2018 Democratic primary for county board president, has been in the headlines following recent reports that Burke hosted a $116,000 fund-raiser for her and that Burke’s son received a county job.
Burke has been indicted in connection with an alleged shakedown of a fast food business, and it has been alleged that $10,000 of the reported extortion scheme was intended for Preckwinkle’s campaign.
At a Jan. 29 candidate forum, 45th Ward aldermanic challenger Jim Gardiner charged that Arena’s campaign workers have been promoting Preckwinkle when visiting homes in the ward.
Arena responded that he would not be endorsing anyone for mayor because it would contradict his desire to remain independent and not be a rubber stamp for the next mayor.
In his campaign mailers, Arena says “Guess who Ed Burke’s least favorite alderman is?”
Arena is part of the Progressive Caucus which called for Burke’s removal as chairman of the City Council Finance Committee. When he was alderman, Fioretti was a member of the caucus.
Also in the interview, Fioretti said that Arena needs to do a better job listening to both sides of issues in his ward. “You have to listen to everybody,” he said. “This is a democracy.”