38th Ward candidates hold ‘meet and greet’
by BRIAN NADIG
The 38th Ward aldermanic race includes a 3-term incumbent, a state appointed official, a former executive director of a business association and a software engineer.
Incumbent Nicholas Sposato and challengers Cynthia Santos, Ed Bannon and Franco Reyes attended a Feb. 6 candidate “meet and greet” sponsored by the Portage Park Neighborhood Association at the Nest Bar and Eatery, 6859 W. Irving Park Road. A fifth candidate, Bruce Randazzo, did not attend.
Sposato told residents that he entered politics as “an outsider” and lost his first aldermanic race against powerful 36th Ward boss William Banks but defeated Banks’ former aide and successor, John Rice, in 2011.
Within months of winning, Sposato said, the ward was remapped and “at that point I had to serve two wards,” the 36th and 38th. In 2015 he got more than 50 percent of the vote against six challengers, avoiding a runoff election.
While in office, Sposato said he has helped bring field lights to Dunham, Hiawatha and Portage parks and new playgrounds to Hiawatha and Shabbona parks, additions to Bridge, Canty and Dever schools, and two new high schools, the Taft Freshman Academy and Rickover Naval Academy.
Sposato also said that he sponsors an annual support the police rally. “It’s an honor and privilege to serve all of you,” Spsoato said.
Santos said that she was not a slated Democratic candidate in 1996 when she won her first election as a commissioner on the Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. About 20 years later she was appointed to the Illinois Pollution Control Board, where she currently serves.
Santos said that she also worked 8 years for former alderman Mike Wojcik as his chief of staff and served on the Public Buildings Commission, working on a committee that oversaw construction of libraries and other public structures.
Santos said that crime is the top issue on voters’ minds and that she is a big proponent of community policing, Santos said.
Bannon has worked as a general manager for the former Lerner Newspapers, an executive director for the Six Corners Association and an economic development aide to former alderman John Arena.
Bannon said that he has worked on several community programs and projects, helping to organize a Hiawatha Park youth basketball program and to create the Read-Dunning Conservation Area. “I’m going to work for the neighborhood as your alderman,” Bannon said. “I’m already doing the work.”
Bannon said that residents need to feel safe in their own community. “People don’t want to go out with their kids,” he said.
Reyes said that he has lives in the ward for 12 years and that as alderperson he would be “open to new ideas and better ways to serve the community.” He said that he works as an engineering manager for an e-commerce company, describing himself as “a problem solver and team leader.”
Reyes said that a city pilot program that dispatches mental health workers and other personnel for some 911 emergencies that police mainly responded to in the past has been working and should be considered for expansion, freeing up officers for more violent situations.
Randazzo, who did not attend the event, is a former city worker who unsuccessfully ran for an Illinois House seat in 2012.