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April 17: Runoff Showdowns
by Amy Wooten
2007-04-11

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Chicago will see the largest number of runoff elections in years on April 17.

There will be a total of 12 runoff elections—11 involving incumbents—held throughout the city.

Here is what's happening as the runoff elections inch closer:

In the 2nd Ward—most likely the most heated aldermanic race—Alderman Madeline Haithcock faces Bob Fioretti for an April 17 showdown. This race has become very contentious this past month, especially since the Chicago National Organization for Women PAC has removed its endorsement of Fioretti ( for the second time ) due to emerging credibility issues regarding an order of restraint against the candidate.

Haithcock has held office since 1993, and is a former banker. Fioretti has spent his career as a civil rights lawyer. Haithcock's campaign has attacked his civil rights record through cases he has taken on as a lawyer, while Fioretti's campaign has accused the alderman of being in the pocket of developers and those with special interests.

Alderman Dorothy Tillman ( 3rd Ward ) will face a tough battle for re-election against Pat Dowell. Tillman, known for her controversial stands on human rights issues, has been on the city council for 23 years. Dowell is a supporter of organized labor, and has the backing of labor unions due to Tillman's stand against the big-box ordinance.

The South Side's 15th Ward race pits attorney Felicia Simmons-Stovall against Toni Foulkes, a union activist and Jewel bakery employee. The seat was up for grabs because Alderman Ted Thomas is retiring.

In the 16th Ward, Alderman Shirley Coleman, an ordained minister who focuses on crime and poverty issues, will face a runoff against challenger Joann Thompson, who supported the Big Box ordinance and has the backing or organized labor.

Incumbent Lona Lane ( who was appointed to replace Tom Murphy by Mayor Daley in December ) will face challenger Paul Stewart, who received 26 percent of the vote in the primary, for the 18th Ward. Both have experience working for the city.

Alderman Howard Brookins, Jr., will face challenger Leroy Jones, Jr., in the 21st Ward battle. Brookins pushed to have a Wal-Mart in his South Side ward and failed; therefore, unions backed Jones.

A long list of candidates spread around the vote enough to give Michael Chandler and Sharon Dixon too few votes to avoid a runoff in the Lawndale-area 24th ward.

Despite the fact that there were only three candidates, 32nd Ward incumbent Ted Matlak only received 47 percent of the vote—not enough to stave off a runoff with Scott Waguespack. One of the major issues for Matlak's challengers is what they perceive as an ongoing cycle of corruption in the alderman's office. [ See the accompanying article about other goings-on in the ward. ]

In the 35th Ward, incumbent Rey Colon will face former alderman Vilma Colom. A key issue for Colom is crime.

On the North Side ( in the Lincoln Park area ) , 43rd Ward Alderman Vi Daley is battling Michele Smith. Smith is a former prosecutor and businesswoman who has been endorsed by Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica. Daley has worked hard on streetscape and capital improvements in the area.

On the Far North Side ( 49th Ward ) , Alderman Joe Moore just missed the magic number to avoid a runoff, and will face challenger Don Gordon, who received roughly 29 percent. Gordon has worked extensively during his campaign to reach out to the area's LGBT community. Moore, famous for his foie gras ban, faced three challengers upset by what they perceived as his poor handling of issues from crime to condos. Many felt that the longtime alderman hasn't done enough to improve the area, which is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago.

Like Moore, Alderman Bernie Stone ( 50th Ward ) , who has served the area for 33 years, was just under the magic number in order to avoid a runoff against Naisy Dolar. In the late '80s, Stone ran as a Republican against Carol Moseley Braun. He has since returned to the Democratic Party. Dolar is an advocate for multiculturalism and was director of the city's Human Relations' Advisory Council on Asian Affairs but resigned to run for alderman. She is noted for raising awareness of the city's Asian-American community. Dolar feels Stone has gotten too comfortable in office, while Stone feels Dolar is too inexperienced.


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