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The Calm Before the Storm

By Kevin Robinson in News on Apr 16, 2007 3:30PM

2007_4_ballot_box.gifMuch like the French, many people gearing up for tomorrow’s election are nervous about the results; the vote on the 17th is, without doubt, one of the most significant contests to take place in our city in years. With a dozen council seats up for grabs, and voter distrust and anger at an all-time city high, it’s no wonder that the Machine is uneasy. While the future of the City by the Lake is at stake tomorrow, more questions than answers will come out of the vote count, and if a small group of sort-of independent alderman are sworn in this May, the near-unilateral power of Daley the Second will be challenged, although not curtailed completely. How will history remember this next group of 50? What does it mean to Daley’s legacy that there will be vocal opponents to some of his agenda to change the face of this once staunchly blue-collar town into a global city of white-collar professionals? Perhaps most vexing will be the issue of who will consolidate the most power to step into the vacuum left when the sun finally sets for the longest-serving mayor in Chicago history?

Tomorrow is the culmination of many long days and nights in the wards, knocking on doors and talking to people that live and work here, and the very real debates that many Chicagoans have had with friends and neighbors about what their community will look like in the very near future. It also marks the first time in 20 years that the method the Machine has used so effectively all these years to hold power and control the Second City has been challenged, in many cases successfully, by movement politics.

Chicagoist isn’t much in the business of prognosticating, but we do occasionally allow ourselves the pleasure of speculation. What follows are our predictions, for better or for worse, of the outcomes tomorrow. While we may not know for sure the future, one thing we can say with certainty is this: regardless of the outcome tomorrow night, the political landscape of the city will be different Wednesday morning, and there will be some new players in the game.

2nd Ward
Although wildly unpopular in her rapidly changing ward, Madeline Haithcock will pull a higher vote percentage than in the general election. David Askew will deliver a portion of his votes to Haithcock, but the Doody vote will largely carry over to Bob Fioretti, who will win by a very close margin.

3rd Ward
With the backing of SEIU and lots of union members in this ward, Pat Dowell is in an excellent position to benefit from a sophisticated GOTV operation. Dorothy Tillman has received the financial backing of Daley, but late in the game. There are some things that money can’t buy, and Tillman is going to learn that lesson Tuesday night. Dowell takes the third.

15th Ward
Toni Foulkes and Felicia Simmons-Stovall both ran good campaigns, and the debate in this ward has been about the future of the 15th. Ted Thomas was the unrealized renegade from this ward, and residents seem to have a taste for change. Foulkes beat Simmons-Stovall by nearly 4,000 votes in the general election, and has the backing of both SEIU and the UFCW. Chicagoist calls this race for Foulkes, and expects her to be both smart and savvy on the council.

16th Ward
No contest: Shirley Coleman bites the dust Tuesday night, a definitive victory for Joann Thompson.

18th Ward
Paul Stewart has not run a smart and disciplined campaign, and Lona Lane will hold her seat easily.

21st Ward
Although Leroy Jones has run a creative and sophisticated campaign, it’s hard to see him edging Howard Brookins out on election night. Jones will post a good showing at the ballot box, but it won’t be enough to overcome Brookins and his ward organization.

24th Ward
Michael Chandler will hold onto his seat.

32nd Ward
This race is too close to call. Expect Ted Matlak to have a better turnout than expected, but if Scott Waguespack can activate his base of angry ward residents, the opportunity is there.

35th Ward
Vilma Colom and Rey Colon have been having this fight for years, and it won’t be settled tomorrow. Colon didn’t move fast enough to really get in front of the smear that Vilma’s people put out on him, and he is still playing defense late in the game. We think Rey will pull it out, but it will be close.

43rd Ward
Although ward residents have been frustrated with Vi Daley, there isn’t enough momentum behind Michele Smith, and she lost credibility with the beer-for-votes scandal. Expect Daley to win another term.

49th Ward
Joe Moore wins, in spite of himself.

50th Ward
Naisy Dolar is full of surprises, and there is a strong undercurrent of anger at Bernie Stone, even among his traditionally staunch base. We’ll be pleasantly surprised if Dolar wins tomorrow night, and we expect Stone to pull a lot more votes of the ward than anticipated.