Alderman Napolitano elected to second term against challenger Tim Heneghan
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Incumbent Anthony Napolitano easily coasted to a second term against Democratic committeeman Tim Heneghan in the 41st Ward.
With 46 out of 47 precincts reporting, Napolitano received 11,890 votes, or 70.60 percent, and Heneghan received 4,952 votes, or 29.40 percent, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
“I can’t put it into words right now. This is the first time I was running as an incumbent and after 4 years of representing our ward properly the voters have spoken,” Napolitano said on election night. “It feels like a 1,000 pounds has been lifted from my shoulders. You do get anxious in these races and you never know what will happen when the people go to the polls.
“However, I wouldn’t do anything different. I love where I live and it’s an honor representing the people of this wonderful ward,” Napolitano said.
Napolitano, age 43, who served as a police officer for 5 years before becoming a firefighter, said that he operates on the premise that his personal opinion on an issue does not matter and that his job is to represent the overall view of his constituents.
“Do what your neighbors want,” he said in the past. He campaigned on working on infrastructure projects in the ward and said that he has worked with other Northwest Side aldermen for more officers to the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District because residents want a stronger police presence on the streets.
Napolitano said that another top priority has been roadway projects in the past 4 years, acknowledging that construction-related detours can be difficult on a community. “(Residents) want city services and see the Northwest Side getting some infrastructure improvements,” he said. “‘Getting It Done in 41’ is our slogan.’”
Napolitano was victorious following a campaign that at times turned bitter over affordable housing at various community forums leading up to the election. Both men butted heads over failed development projects and other issues in the ward.
“The last month got tighter with my opponent, but I have no ill feelings towards him. He’s a neighborhood guy and it’s all a part of the election process. It’s all politics,” Napolitano said.
During the campaign, Napolitano charged that Heneghan would bring “mass density” to the ward and only recently took up the cause of affordable housing in an effort to gain the support of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, which endorsed Heneghan.
The two disagreed about a proposal that Napolitano opposed, which was to build a 299-unit apartment complex near Higgins and Cumberland avenues. The developer sued the city, but later dropped the lawsuit and the project never materialized. Heneghan said that he would have supported the plan.
Napolitano said at the time that initial plans had called for no on-site affordable units in the project, but the developer included 30 affordable units in a failed last-ditch effort to gain the support of enough aldermen to pass the development through the council.
Napolitano said that the city’s existing affordable housing laws, which typically mandate that new zoning projects include 10-percent affordable units, are sufficient to meet affordable housing needs in the ward. He added that developers can also buy out of the requirement by paying into the city’s housing fund and that was what the Higgins developer was planning when the development was first proposed.
The 41st Ward already has a large number of affordable units when compared to nearby wards, and an increase in affordable requirements would lead to denser projects because developers would need larger buildings to make up for the reduced income from the below-market rate units, Napolitano said.
“We are leading the Northwest Side in affordable housing. We have more affordable housing than the (38th, 39th, 45th and 47th wards). That’s a statistical fact,” Napolitano said.
Despite some of their differences, Napolitano and Heneghan have similar backgrounds.
Each candidate has worked as a firefighter, is married with three children, lives in Edison Park and has coached youth or high school sports.
Heneghan, age 56, who is a community representative on the Ebinger School Local School Council, recently retired from the Elmwood Park Fire Department after 27 years of service.
Heneghan said that his focus as committeeman has been to help organize or sponsor community events. He said that they include a pancake breakfasts to raise funds for bullet-proof vests for police officers, a paper-shredding event and smoke detector giveaways.
Heneghan did not return a phone call requesting a comment on election night.