CHICAGO (CBS) — In a close race to succeed the outgoing Ald. Vi Daley in the Lincoln Park neighborhood’s 43rd Ward, Democratic ward committeeman Michele Smith appears to have emerged victorious.
With one of the ward’s precinct 59 precincts still not reporting as of early Wednesday afternoon, Smith was ahead of rival Tim Egan by 220 votes – amounting to 51 percent for Smith compared with 49 percent for Egan.
The remaining precinct and absentee ballots must still be counted, but Smith has declared victory.
“Thank you for all the kind words and congratulations! Victory could not have happened without this community!” Smith posted on Twitter Wednesday.
Controversies over plans for development are currently making headlines in the neighborhood, most notably a plan to redevelop the old Lincoln Park Hospital campus into condominiums, medical offices and a new grocery store.
The plan by the firm Sandz Development Co. calls for one existing hospital building to be converted into high-rise condo tower, and for a second residential building called “The Flats” to be constructed on the site. The project also calls six floors of medical offices in an existing hospital building.
But generating the most controversy in the development, which is called Webster Square, is the planned construction of a Fresh Market grocery store in the old hospital parking garage right across from vintage homes.
Smith has come out against the plan, while Egan was in favor of it. Ald. Daley signed off on the plan, which was approved by the City Council Zoning Committee last month.
But that won’t be the only development issue the new alderman will have to face.
Just blocks away, 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.
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.
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