Politics getting ‘very complex’ in 38th Ward aldermanic race
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) could face as many as half-dozen opponents, including a reelection challenge from 38th Ward Democratic Organization vice president Ed Bannon, possibly putting ward committeeperson Robert Martwick in a position to choose between two friends by endorsement time.
“Both Nick and Ed have been loyal allies and personal friends, and both have done great things for the ward and community,” said Martwick, who is also the 10th District state senator.
“I have not made my decision” Martwick said, adding that he will wait until there is more “clarity” in the race.
Sposato, who is seeking his fourth term in the City Council, is expected to formally announce the launch of his campaign at an event Thursday evening, Sept. 29. Sposato was the ward’s democratic committeeperson but in 2017 resigned and supported Martwick as his successor.
Sposato said that he is well-liked in the ward and feels he and his staff has done “a great job” responding to residents’ concerns. “I have a box of ‘thank you’ letters, and there’s -emails and calls. … The majority of the credit goes to my staff. We are great together. We genuinely enjoy helping others.”
Bannon, a former newspaper reporter who once served as the executive director of the Six Corners Association and was an aide to former alderman John Arena in the 45th Ward, said that he has a strong background in economic development and has worked on several community projects, including the creation of the Dunning Read Conservation Area.
“I’ve been trying to focus about what I’ve been doing in the ward, (and) I don’t feel at this point I’m running against Nick,” Bannon said.
Sposato and Bannon did speak recently.
“I told him, Ed, this is America. Run if you want to,” Sposato said, adding that Martwick is caught “in the middle.”
Sposato said that he should not have waited to announce that he is running, as the delay may have encouraged more candidates to run. “I created a lot of this,” he said. “It’s getting very complex.”
Bannon said that in recent conversations with Sposato it was not clear if the alderman was going to seek re-election and that given other candidates were entering the race, Bannon decided to add his name to the list. Many alderpersons who have been on the City Council for years have decided not to run in 2023.
Sposato was elected in 2011 in the 36th Ward and then ran in the 38th Ward in 2015 due to the remap.
Former state Representative Richard Bradley and Bruce Randazzo, who ran against Sposato in 2011, have been circulating nominating petitions, and Bradley’s wife, former Metropolitan Reclamation District commissioner Cynthia Santos, also has reportedly considered running.
Also, Franco Reyes has filed with the state elections board, and Greg Schorsch, who has criticized Sposato for his opposition to Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city, has announced his candidacy.
In the recent primary for state and county offices, the organization endorsed several progressive candidates, while Sposato is arguably the most conservative member of the council, voicing support for former President Donald Trump.
Sposato has described himself as liberal on union issues and conservative on social issues and said he takes a common-sense approach to governing. Earlier this year he voted against a resolution affirming the city’s support for abortion rights.
Sposato said that Trump received about 40 percent of the vote in the ward in 2020 and that he believes the percentage would be higher if the election were held today, adding that only one ward had more support for Trump.
On a campaign flier, Bannon states that he is “100 percent pro-choice” and as alderman would “protect unions and all workers” and “improve opportunities for middle-class families.”
“Most just want good (city) services, lower taxes and want to feel safe in their neighborhood,” Bannon said, listing constituents’ top concerns.
The 38th Ward includes all or parts of Dunning, Belmont Heights, Portage Park. Under the recent remap, the ward lost parts of Jefferson Park and Portage Park.
In 2019 Sposato had no challengers, and in 2015 he won with 54 percent of the vote, defeating six other candidates and avoiding a runoff election. “That’s almost unheard of,” Sposato has said.
Candidates will need about 500 valid signatures on their nominating petitions to qualify for the ballot, and challenges to petitions are possible.