Aldermanic candidates file in 45th, 38th races
by BRIAN NADIG
Three candidates in the 45th Ward race for alderman and four in the 38th Ward filed nominating petitions Monday, Nov. 21, the first filing day for those running in the Feb. 28, municipal election.
Incumbent James Gardiner, Northwest Chicago Historical Society president Susanna Ernst and lawyer Megan Mathias have filed for the 45th Ward race, and incumbent Nicholas Sposato, former Water Reclamation District commissioner Cynthia Santos, 38th Ward Democratic Organization vice president Ed Bannon and Franco Reyes have filed in the 38th Ward.
Candidates have until Nov. 28 to file and then comes possible petition challenges, when candidates and their supporters try to knock their opponents off the ballot, which is a common political tactic.
A final list of candidates for the election may not be known for 2 months due to lengthy challenges.
Each candidate must have at least 473 valid signatures from registered voters in their ward, but a voter can only sign one petition. In instances in which a voter signs petitions for multiple aldermanic candidates, only the first petition signed is considered valid.
The candidates provided Nadig Newspapers the following approximate signature totals for their petitions: Gardiner had 3,200, Ernst had 1,750 and Mathias had 1,700 in the 45th Ward.
In the 38th Ward, Sposato had 1,800, Santos had 2,400 and Bannon had 1,300.
The seven who filed for those two races on Monday will be entered into a lottery to determine whose name will be first on the ballot in that race.
The 45th and 38th ward races should be among the most crowded on the Northwest Side, with more candidates expected to file in the coming days.
Jefferson Park resident Marija Tomic, socialist Ana Santoyo and James Suh, who is a plaintiff in two lawsuits against Gardiner, have been collecting signatures for the 45th Ward race.
In one of the lawsuits, Suh and other plaintiffs claim that Gardiner violated their rights by restricting their access to his official aldermanic Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Greg Schorsch and Bruce Randazzo have been collecting signatures in the 38th Ward but have not filed.
In the 38th Ward race, there already have been some fireworks with Sposato claiming that the Santos campaign has been telling constituents that he is too sick to be alderman and not running. He has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.
Santos denied Sposato’s accusation and said that some constituents have voluntarily expressed concern about Sposato’s health and questioned whether he should be running. She added that some of his friends have expressed those concerns to her.
Sposato this week called her a “liar” and said that his friends tell him that her campaign has been raising the issue. Santos said that Sposato himself raised the issue about his health, delaying an announcement about whether he was going to run for a fourth term.
Sposato said that his delay may have encouraged more people to enter the race.
Santos said that she feels confident about her prospects of winning and may step down from her paid position on the Illinois Pollution Control Board so she can be a full-time candidate.
Bannon said that constituents have been discussing a variety of issues on the campaign trail, looking for “fresh ideas” and feeling their community has been “left behind” on city resources.
More beautification initiatives is one topic being raised, and all city departments should be addressing the topic of public safety, which requires mental health and other services being available to communities, Bannon said.
“People need to feel safe in their homes,” he said.
Mathias said that she began her campaign 18 months ago and that knocking on doors has been an invaluable experience. “They want their voices heard” and expect transparency, Mathias said. “I think people want someone who is around and responsive.”
Ernst said that the top issues being discussed by constituents include public safety and economic development, especially the need for more revitalization along Milwaukee Avenue.
“I’ve hit almost 1,000 homes,” Ernst said. “People want to know what is going on (in their community) and at City Council.”
Gardiner said that addressing crime is a top priority for residents. “People have expressed concerns about public safety and rightfully so,” Gardiner said, adding that the Police Observation Device cameras installed in the ward since 2021 have helped lead to the apprehension of suspects.
In the 39th Ward, incumbent Samantha Nugent and North Mayfair resident Denali Dasgupta have filed, and in the 41st Ward incumbent Anthony Napolitano and Edison Park Community Council vice president Paul Struebing have filed.