CHICAGO (CBS) — Nine candidates ran to replace outgoing Ald. Vi Daley in the high-profile Lincoln Park neighborhood’s 43rd Ward, but now, the field has been narrowed to two candidates who have both run before.
Michele Smith, the Democratic ward committeeman and a former federal prosecutor, will face off against Tim Egan, a hospital administrator.
Both ran unsuccessfully against Ald. Daley in 2007, although Smith forced Ald. Daley into a runoff that year.
Speaking to CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole Tuesday night, Smith and Egan outlined their plans to appeal to voters.
“The number one issue that people are concerned about is personal safety and security,” Smith said. “They also are very concerned to continue the excellence of our public schools, and to even improve our local high schools, which are terrific, but need a little bit more support.”
Egan said one of his goals is to make the city more hospitable to business.
“I plan on being a common sense leader, and that’s what our ward needs at this point,” Egan said. “The City of Chicago is at a crossroads with this economic transition, and it needs common sense leadership. We’ve got to bring in more business to the City of Chicago, we’ve got to make it easier for small businessmen to open up their doors and bring in more tax revenue, and we can’t continue to raise taxes on the taxpayers that are here.”
Whoever wins, the new 43rd Ward alderman will have to deal with several major development, include the relocation of Children’s Memorial Hospital and the development of the former Lincoln Park Hospital.
Children’s Memorial Hospital is set to move from its campus on Lincoln Avenue just southeast of Halsted Street and Fullerton Avenue, to a site at 215 E. Chicago Ave. in the 42nd Ward. The move was announced about five years ago, but few plans have been mentioned for the hospital’s current site.
Lincoln Park Hospital closed in October 2008, and neighbors have been protesting plans for a 20,000 square-foot grocery store at 550 W. Webster Ave., along with a 12-story, 120-unit residential building, a separate 40-unit, 55-foot tall building on Grant Place, a parking garage with 255 spaces, and more than 95,000 square feet of medical and professional office space.
Some protesters say they do not want a grocery store in the middle of a residential block because they say it will bring too much traffic. In December, Smith was among those who said she believes the store simply would be too big for the area where it would be located.
In years past, the 43rd Ward was known as a hotbed of political independents. Notable among them were Edwin Eisendrath, who served as alderman of the ward for two terms from 1987 to 1993 and later unsuccessfully challenged Rod Blagojevich in the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary; and Martin Oberman, who was alderman of the ward from 1975 to 1987 and was one of the few white aldermen to side with Mayor Harold Washington during the Council Wars of the 1980s.
Both Oberman and Eisendrath backed Ald. Daley when she ran for the seat in 1999. While Ald. Daley is not related to Mayor Richard M. Daley, she was consistently one of his most loyal supporters.
In running against Ald. Daley in 2007, Smith charged that she had let development run rampant in Lincoln Park.