Chicago’s historic 2019 election will soon be over, ushering in big changes to city government. Not only will a new mayor take up residence on the 5th floor of City Hall, but the council itself could look and operate in a vastly different way than it has in recent decades.
Race for mayor
There were no giant rallies Monday for mayoral candidates Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, just mad dashes through different neighborhoods as the two made their closing cases to voters. (Watch our mayoral candidate forum.)
Lightfoot kicked off her morning at a CTA L stop in Garfield Park before hitting the commercial strip on Devon Avenue on the North Side, and greeting Metra and Blue Line commuters in Jefferson Park in the afternoon. She has consistently been up in the polls, but says nobody should take the election for granted and stay home.
Preckwinkle held a rally early Monday afternoon on the West Side featuring supporters such as U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and Ald. Jason Ervin. She also hit up areas like Devon Avenue and the Wilson Red Line CTA stop in Uptown, and urged her supporters to organize and get out the vote in her favor.
City Council races
There are 15 contested City Council races. Many incumbents are fighting for their lives; other seats have been vacated by current aldermen. That includes the 20th Ward, where Ald. Willie Cochran recently resigned after a federal corruption guilty plea. Newcomers Jeanette Taylor and Nicole Johnson are vying for that South Side seat.
There’s another open seat in the 25th Ward, where Ald. Danny Solis has essentially been missing in action since it was revealed he wore a wire on Ald. Ed Burke and had been the subject of corruption allegations himself. Byron Sigcho-Lopez and Alexander Acevedo – the son of a longtime Madigan-aligned Democratic state representative – are competing for that seat.
The 30th Ward has been extra contentious with Ald. Ariel Reboyras, an ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, trying to fend off a challenge from Jessica Gutierrez, the daughter of former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez. (Watch our 30th Ward candidate forum.)
In the 33rd Ward, self-described democratic socialist Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez is taking on incumbent Ald. Deb Mell. (Watch our 33rd Ward candidate forum.)
In the 40th Ward, longtime incumbent Ald. Patrick O’Connor, floor leader and chair of the Finance Committee, faces a challenge by Andre Vasquez, another self-described democratic socialist, organizer and former rap artist. (Watch our 40th Ward candidate forum.)
Emanuel’s fingerprints are all over some of these races. In recent days, a dormant political action committee called Chicago Forward, which was created to support Emanuel four years ago, revived itself and got hundreds of thousands of dollars from another Emanuel-aligned PAC. In recent days they have spent a lot of money in support of candidates who might seem to be more supportive of protecting Emanuel’s legacy, including incumbent Alds. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward), Raymond Lopez (15th Ward), Howard Brookins (21st Ward), O’Connor (40th Ward) and Jim Cappleman (46th Ward); and candidates Michael Negron, who is taking on Matt Martin for the seat of retiring Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th Ward); and Samantha Nugent, who is challenging Robert Murphy to replace retiring Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th Ward).
Chicago Forward has also spent money on behalf of city treasurer candidate Pawar, who is competing for the vacant seat against State Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin. (Watch our city treasurer candidate forum.)
In other City Council races, incumbent Ald. Michele Smith (43rd Ward) is facing Derek Lindblom (watch our 43rd Ward candidate forum); incumbent Ald. Milly Santiago (31st Ward) faces Felix Cardona; incumbent Ald. Toni Foulkes (16th Ward) is facing Stephanie Coleman (watch our 16th Ward candidate forum); and incumbent Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) is being challenged by William Calloway (watch our 5th Ward candidate forum).
Whoever becomes mayor could be dealing with a City Council that will form vastly different alliances and create a different type of order than we’ve seen in several decades.
Election officials are estimating a voter turnout of about 35 percent again, similar to the Feb. 26 election.
Little more than 100,000 people that have cast their runoff ballots early, with the bulk of those being residents ages 55 and older.
Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz