Last month's election results show tight competition for a City Council seat representing the 11th Ward ahead of the April 4 runoff.
Ald incumbent. Nicole Lee was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot last year to replace the former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson when he resigned after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion charges.
Lee became the first Asian-American woman to sit on the City Council and now hopes to be the first to be elected as well.
Lee came out on top in the first round of the contest with almost 31% of the vote, but it was not enough to avoid a runoff with Chicago Police instructor Anthony Ciaravino, who grabbed 29% – leaving the votes given to the other five candidates in the election. lots of people competing for it.
With Thompson's conviction, it appears the Daley family's grip on the ward is slipping. But despite the changes to the environmental map and the growth of Asian communities in the last decade, Daley and his allies are still making an impact.
The 11th Ward has a storied history in Chicago politics, having produced five mayors, including both Mayor Daley. Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas could potentially be considered a sixth candidate if he beats Brandon Johnson in the April 4 runoff and retains the Bridgeport apartment Vallas rented to qualify as a resident.
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley, as well as his brother — Cook County Commissioner John Daley, who is also a member of the Ward Democratic committee — both supported Lee in the election. Lee's father, Gene Lee, served as an aide to the former mayor. Gene Lee was convicted in 2014 of stealing from a Chinatown charity.
Ald. Lee said his father's history made him initially hesitant to seek term on a City Council seat, telling the Sun-Times that being a politician “wasn't something he aspired to be” before he agreed to be nominated for Lightfoot's consideration for the seat. .
“I have spent my whole life not trying to be in my father's shadow,” he said.
Despite his father's City Hall history, he didn't meet the former mayor until he was appointed to a Council seat and invited to join Richard M. Daley and his family for the White Sox's opening day game last summer, council members said. .
Challenger Ciaravino has engine connections of his own, with fundraising support coming from companies affiliated with longtime Daley supporters Fred B. Barbara, a trucker and dump hauler, and Joseph Feldman, developer and former publisher of Bridgeport News.
The deposition in the city's lawsuit shows Ciaravino was previously assigned to Mayor Richard M. Daley's security detail.
Ciaravino currently works for the police department as a member of the crisis intervention team and an instructor for the Chicago Police Department, according to his campaign website.
In 2017, Ciaravino was the subject of a gun complaint that violated department policy and resulted in an 11-day suspension, according to Citizen Police Data Project records.
He did not respond to requests for an interview with the Sun-Times.
Ciaravino has positioned himself as a law and order candidate and has received support from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, the union that represents the majority of Chicago police officers.
Ald. Lee said public safety was his top priority both throughout the city and in the neighborhood, but also listed sustainable economic development in the Halsted Street corridor south of 35th Street and along Archer Avenue between Halsted and Ashland as critical to residents' quality of life.
“A lot of what I'd like to see happen is we make this a really walkable environment, and there's no reason why we can't do that,” he says.
The incumbent noted the diversity of businesses, particularly in Chinatown and Bridgeport, as evidence that a mix of cultures makes the 11th Ward thrive.
Ward is one of the most diverse in the city.
Last year's redevelopment made the 11th district the city's first majority Asian ward, consisting of the Bridgeport community, Chinatown, Armor Square, and parts of Canaryville and McKinley Park.
Ald. Lee said having representation that reflects the Asian American community in the neighborhood is important and represents decades of work by community leaders.
He pointed at Ciaravino's comment made for WBEZ reporters in an article published Wednesday in which the candidate said he did not believe Asian representation mattered. Ald. Lee called that a “disqualifying remark”.
“Not understanding why having representation for the community is important is beyond me,” he said. “It allows us to have a political voice, and we haven't had that in the 185-year history of this city.”
The incumbent won the area along Archer Avenue, where many of Bridgeport's new Asians have flocked in recent years, and he also had a strong showing in Chinatown, where he finished second behind Chicago firefighter Donald Don.
Don, who is also of Chinese descent, said he remained neutral in the second round.
If Ciaravino could claim Don's share of the vote there, Chinatown was up for grabs, but Ciaravino received less than 4% of the vote in two counties that cover most of the neighborhood on February 28.
Ciaravino took the Bridgeport area south of the White Sox stadium, suggesting he could vote in the area on both sides of 31st Street, where he and Ald are. Lee was almost tied or he would finish behind him.
Councilors look set to get a boost from voters living between Halsted Street and Racine Avenue where voters give the highest support to Democratic Socialist candidate Ambria Taylor.
Taylor said he had no plans to officially endorse Ald. Lee because of their political differences, but he said “we've been encouraging the people who voted for me not to vote for Tony Ciaravino.”