CHICAGO (CBS) – A little-known Chicago firefighter will soon take over as alderman of the Northwest Side’s 36th Ward, after an upset victory Tuesday night.
In the aldermanic runoff election, Nicholas Sposato defeated appointed and well-connected Ald. John Rice. Sposato won 56 percent of the vote, compared with 44 percent for Rice.
Sposato compares his story to that of David and Goliath.
“We thought we had a 50-50 chance, and all the hard work paid off,” he said.
Rice, who had the backing of Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and the Democratic machine, was appointed to the seat in 2009 after his boss, former Ald. William J.P. Banks, retired following 26 years on the City Council.
Sposato has been a firefighter for 17 years, and worked as a UPS driver before that. He is a lifelong resident of the 38th Ward, and remains involved in the Montclare-Elmwood Park Lions Club and the Trinity High School Father’s Club – even though his grown daughters have long sicne graduated, according to his campaign biography.
In his campaign, Sposato said he didn’t think the ward was open, and found it to be an exclusive club that he wanted to break.
“People are just tired and fed up with machine-type politics,” Sposato said upon learning of his victory. “They want open and honest government, and that’s what I represent.”
During the heated campaign, Rice filed a defamation lawsuit against Sposato, after Sposato asked federal investigators to probe reported links between the 36th Ward Regular Democratic Organization and organized crime, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.
The ward includes parts of the Far Northwest Side neighborhoods of Dunning, Schorsch Village, Montclare, Belmont Heights, Irving Woods, Belmont Terrace and Schosrch Forest View.