By Noah Broder
The Chicago mayor’s race is the top-line ballot consideration for voters as the Feb. 26 citywide elections approach. With 14 candidates in the mayoral race, voters have a less than a month to decide how they want to cast their votes.
But Chicagoans also must consider other key races. While the mayoral election impacts the entire city, so do other offices and proposals.
Let’s take a look at some of the other races that will appear on ballots in February.
The city clerk is in charge of record keeping and maintaining key information related to government accountability. A number of citywide services and functions are available through the office, and the clerk’s website claims that it is the most visited city government office.
From vehicle permits and stickers to meeting schedules and minutes, the office serves a number of functions for the city. The current city clerk, Anna M. Valencia had a few initial contenders, but she is expected to keep her position.
The city treasurer, like treasurers for other organizations and businesses, controls the city’s funds and investments. Additionally, the office provides financial education programs for residents.
The three functions of the office – banker, investor and advocate – rely on the treasurer to be a diligent record keeper, a prudent investment manager and a promoter of small business growth.
The current treasurer, Kurt Summers, announced in October that he would not be seeking re-election. That opened the door for other candidates to seek the office.
The ballot features Illinois State Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin (D-10th), 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar and accountant Peter Gariepy.
Chicago’s city council consists of the mayor and 50 aldermen from the 50 wards across the city. The 50 wards provide residents the opportunity for local and neighborhood representation on a city level. Voters in each ward will have the chance to select an alderman that will represent their ward on a city level.
Each ward has a unique set of neighborhood traits and needs, and the alderman is tasked with bringing those issues to the entire city. Aldermen serve four-year terms and are elected by their ward constituents.
In some wards, the incumbent may be running unopposed. In other wards, the field of candidates can swell to over half-a-dozen.
More information about the city’s 50 wards and who will be on your specific ballot can be found on the city’s election website.
One of the key races to watch is in the 47th Ward where incumbent Alderman Ameya Pawar is running for city treasurer. Nine candidates are vying to win Pawar’s seat.
During a January 15 aldermanic forum for the 47th Ward at Lakeview High School, forum moderator and CAN TV host Ken Davis commented on the quality of the candidates.
“As someone from the 38th Ward where we have a non-contested election, I’m just really jealous to be here and see all of this intelligence at one table.”
47th Ward Candidate Michael Negron began his discussion at the forum by highlighting the importance of elections across the city.
“We are at a pivotal moment in our city’s history, with the most wide-open elections we’ve had in 30 years, ” Negron said. “Our challenges are significant … and the next mayor and city council have to get to work on these issues right away.”
Another race to watch is in the 14th Ward where current Alderman Ed Burke is involved in a federal corruption case. While he has remained in the running to keep his seat, the legal trouble could open the door for other candidates.
“I want you my friends and supporters to know that I fully intend to seek re-election,” Burke said in a video in early January shortly after he was charged.
In different wards of the city, some voters will see questions about future policy decisions. From questions about rent control and property taxes, to using funds from possible future marijuana sales, voters will be able to weigh in on a number of issues. These referenda votes are advisory only.
Similar ballot questions appeared on the ballot during November’s general election, but these initiatives will be more specific to individual wards.