Nugent elected next alderman of 39th Ward
by KEVIN GROSS
Samantha Nugent defeated Robert Murphy to become the next alderman of the 39th Ward by 1,594 votes, according to preliminary results from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
Nugent received 7,461 votes, or 55.98 percent of the total votes cast, and Murphy received 5,867 votes, or 44.02 percent, according to results as of April 9.
"What worked, I think, it was human contact. That really was through door knocking, having coffee, attending HOA (homeowner’s association) meetings, neighborhood meetings." Nugent said. "When you knock on someone’s door they let you into their life and into their home, and that meant a lot to me. It will be an honor to represent them."
Nugent had campaigned for months for better schools, safety, infrastructure and business growth. She touted her experience managing large budgets in her past jobs including serving as the chief of staff for the Cook County Department of Homeland Security, managing government supply chains with the firm W.W. Grainger, working as director of operations in former Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s 2006 re-election campaign, working on gun reform laws with former mayor Richard M. Daley, and serving as advance staff during one of former president Bill Clinton’s Chicago visits.
"If we’re safe, with great services and good neighborhood schools, the businesses will follow through. Shops and restaurants will want to be here," Nugent said.
Murphy, the ward’s Democratic committeeman, architect and co-founder of the FAIR Coalition, campaigned that he was an independent voice and wanted City Council to serve as a proper "legislative" body rather than serving like, as he said, outgoing Alderman Margaret Laurino and other "rubber stamp" aldermen. He said "insiders" voted for budgets that led to property tax increases and labeled Nugent as the "insider candidate" for her support and donations from lobbyists, pro-Emanuel groups and former Laurino donors.
"I am honored to have earned the support of so many of my neighbors. I am proud of the changes we have made – and will continue to make – in (Ward) 39," Murphy said in a statement on his campaign’s Facebook page. "This fight continues and I look forward to standing with you in holding our new alderman accountable to the promises she made to the voters."
"There are things that she promised, like doing participatory budgeting, like permitting the community to have a voice in zoning decisions," Murphy said after the election.
"My hope is that she holds to what she said she would do, that she really does put the community first, and that service and looking out for our tax money takes a very different turn than what it has under the ‘family dynasty,’ because frankly it’s been a disaster," he said.
The two candidates edged out former challengers Casey Smagala and Joe Duplechin in the Feb. 26 election, who themselves harped against Nugent’s "insider ties" during early parts of the race before ultimately endorsing her.
Nugent said after the Feb. 26 election that her first action as alderman would be to push for more officers in the 16th (Jefferson Park) and 17th (Albany Park) police districts, a stance that she said hasn’t changed since.
"Public safety concerns are very real … People have personally reached out to me over the last few months, that their home was burglarized, or that their car had been broken into," she said. "I want to make sure they (police) have what they need to do their jobs. I want them to feel supported."
Among other issues, Nugent fielded a question at a March 27 candidates’ forum about whether she supports a new North Park Village commission that was approved by the City Council.
She said that the commission shouldn’t have been approved without community input, but that "as alderman, what I would do is meet with the North Park Village advisory council, as well as community leaders, to talk to them about what type of community involvement they’d like to be added to that ordinance, and I’d be happy to amend it."
She said that her stance has not changed.
"The things I kept hearing from the community residents were service issues, it was very operational. People were upset about not having a bus around as much, or one that is (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant," Nugent said. "Sometimes you need multiple government partners in the room, because one department doesn’t completely own an operation … I want to make sure that all the players are in the room. That’s why I say lets amend it and add additional partners."
Murphy said that he expects Nugent or a political ally, such as Laurino’s nephew and state Representative John D’Amico (D-15), to run against him for ward committeeman in 2020, but Nugent said that she is currently focused on aldermanic duties and not thinking about running for the committeeman seat.
When asked if he would run for elected office again, Murphy said he would "take some time to assess where this is at and figure out what I want to do in the future," although he anticipates the ward’s Democratic organization being "very active" heading into the 2020 state and national elections.
In other Northwest Side runoff races, incumbent 33rd Ward Alderman Deb Mell, daughter of former Alderman Richard Mell, was behind in votes against Democratic socialist Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez.
Preliminary results show Rodriguez-Sanchez received 5,736 votes, or 50.05 percent, and Mell received 5,724 votes, or 49.95 percent. Mell has not conceded and mail-in ballots are still being counted until next week.
In the 30th Ward, incumbent Alderman Ariel Reboyras received 4,094 votes, or 51.92 of the total cast, and Jessica Gutierrez, former Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s daughter, received 3,791 votes, or 48.08 percent.
Other races marked change in City Council as incumbent 31st Ward Alderman Milly Santiago lost to former Cook County Assessor’s Office employee Felix Cardona Jr. 3,009-3,575 votes, while incumbent 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O’Connor, lost to Democratic socialist and former rapper Andre Vasquez 6,407-7,480.
Also, in the 47th Ward, assistant attorney general Matt Martin defeated Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former policy director Michael Negron 11,785-7,064.