Nugent in 39th Ward runoff, with Murphy in lead for second place
by KEVIN GROSS
Aldermanic candidate Samantha Nugent will advance to the April 2 runoff election in the 39th Ward, while Robert Murphy appears headed for the second spot and Casey Smagala looms slightly behind in votes.
“Here’s the deal. I have always been a ‘glass half full’ type of person. It’s always been about how we move the 39th Ward to the next level,” Nugent said on election night. “It’s always been about the 39th Ward, and about our messages of good public safety, good neighborhood schools, good city services and good development.”
With 43 of 45 precincts reporting, Nugent received 4,072 votes, or 33 percent of the total votes cast, Murphy received 3,619 votes, or 29 percent, Smagala received 3,417 votes, or 28 percent, and Joe Duplechin received 1,203, or 10 percent.
The candidate who wins the runoff will become the first non-Laurino to serve as the 39th Ward Alderman since 1965, when Margaret Laurino’s father Anthony first became alderman.
Nugent has held many jobs including serving as chief of staff for the Cook County Department of Homeland Security, working on gun control legislation with former Mayor Richard M. Daley and working on former Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s 2006 re-election campaign. She highlighted her diverse resume, her ability to manage large budgets and her status as a community-involved mom throughout the 39th Ward race. Her endorsements included state Representative John D’Amico (D-15), Congressman Mike Quigley (D-5) and the Chicago Tribune.
During the race Nugent received criticism from other candidates for being the “insider” candidate and for receiving donations from entities that previously donated to Laurino, but she said that she wasn’t hurt by attacks.
“It’s about bringing people all over the ward in, and it’s always been about an inclusive race, an inclusive campaign,” Nugent said. “We didn’t have to go low in our campaign. It was always about positivity. Our strategy didn’t change, and it won’t change.”
Murphy, the ward’s Democratic committeeman, a former architect, previously ran against Laurino in 2015, losing 4,808-5,966 but coming within a few hundred votes of forcing a runoff election that year.
Through the campaign he branded himself as a reformer who could tackle the legislative aspects of being an alderman such as pushing for term limits and TIF reform. He highlighted his actions as committeeman including making the Democratic organization’s endorsement process public and helping elect most of its endorsed candidates in the primary election last March.
Politicians and entities including former Governor Pat Quinn, Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-4), the Cook County College Teachers Union and the Chicago Sun-Times endorsed him.
Smagala said during his campaign that he is the candidate with the deepest community ties and the best ability to address local issues such as schools and crime, highlighting his additional past roles such as helping create career programs at Roosevelt High School, working with business incubators and local chambers of commerce, and serving as a North River Commission director. He received an endorsement and his largest campaign donation from state Representative Robert Martwick (D-19).
Duplechin advocated for small businesses and touted his crime fighting experience as a police officer during his campaign. He was unable to advance despite receiving the race’s largest single donation of $35,000 from the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, a union he said that he was a part of since 1998, as well as support from affiliated unions including the Laborers International Union of North America and the Chicago Federation of Labor and Industrial Union Council.