WICKER PARK — From frustration over a nixed Trader Joe's to the impact of new residents in the area, two challengers hoping to upset incumbent 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno in the 2015 election got an earful from voters during the candidates' first evening of door-to-door outreach this week.
The candidates — Anne Shaw and Andrew Hamilton — began their efforts Tuesday to collect 479 signatures from registered voters, a requirement to be put on the ballot in the city's 1st Ward. The ward encompasses parts of Wicker Park, East Humboldt Park, Ukrainian Village, East Village and Logan Square.
They heard a variety of gripes, including many about Moreno, who has been in office since 2010.
Angel Alvarez, who lives in the 2400 block of West Haddon Street in East Humboldt Park, said Moreno pays more attention to residents who have moved in recently and donated to his campaign.
"He takes care of them. That's not righteous," said Alvarez, a mechanic.
Moreno's staff called the charge "ludicrous" on Wednesday.
Alvarez told Hamilton that he voted for Moreno in 2011 but is still undecided about voting for the incumbent again.
Alisa Hauser shares her thoughts after following two Moreno challengers through the neighborhood:
Meanwhile, in Wicker Park, Shaw heard from one frustrated resident in the 1900 block of West Potomac Street, who declined to gave his name but blamed Moreno for not being able to get a plan for a Trader Joe's on Division Street approved.
"They didn't put the Trader Joe's in. That guy [Moreno] is useless; I'm done" with him, he said.
Moreno never came out for or against Trader Joe's, but he did host a series of community meetings that led the chain to end up dropping its proposal on its own.
"I had a thorough community process with input, and halfway through that process they decided they did not want to go through it," Moreno said Wednesday.
Hamilton, the 34-year-old Ukrainian Village resident who works as a lawyer specializing in personal injury, also heard gripes from Gladys Lopez, who was concerned about overgrown weeds in a neighbor's lawn in the 2400 block of West Thomas Street.
And Lucy Firov, owner of Amish Healthy Foods, said she was frustrated that her building at 1025 N. Western Ave. has not gotten permission to add parking spaces, although Moreno said he would be hesitant to reduce residential parking in the neighborhood.
Both candidates know it will be tough to challenge Moreno.
In addition to raising over $2.2 million in contributions since 2007, including $161,000 from a campaign kickoff last month at Chop Shop's 1st Ward event location at 2033 W. North Ave., Moreno enjoys endorsements from several Cook County politicians and such groups as the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
"Of course, money is important, but you have to look at where it's coming from. When you are raising money from the people, it is harder and tougher," said Shaw, an East Village resident and community activist who said she has over 120 supporters volunteering for her campaign.
Five helpers were assisting Shaw with canvassing for signatures on Tuesday.
Shaw runs her Lakeview-based firm, Shaw Legal Services, which specializes in civil rights, personal injury and small-business cases.
February's election will not be Shaw's first attempt to defeat Moreno.
The attorney ran against Moreno in a 2012 ward committeeman race but lost to him, getting 27 percent of the vote complared to Moreno's 57 percent.
Shaw became involved in local politics two years ago when she protested the closure of the police station at 937 N. Wood St.
"We deserve better. This all started with public safety," Shaw said.
Formerly the 13th District headquarters, the station shuttered in December 2012 as part of a plan that merged the area police with a neighboring district to create the Near West Police District. The Wood Street station reopened in October as an office for Cook County Sheriff officers.
Shaw mentioned her fight to save the police station to several residents while stumping with her husband, Matt McWhinney.
Wicker Park resident Marci Sieracki told Shaw she was signing her name on Shaw's petition largely because of McWhinney, whom Sieracki said was "so sweet" in his impassioned pitch for his wife.
Later, Shaw said McWhinney's support was a key factor in her decision to run.
"I would not be doing this if my husband and family were not behind me. It's a huge task and sacrifice but you have to give people a choice, somebody who is going to fight for the people. People are upset; it's not just me," Shaw said.
When asked why he decided to run for alderman, Hamilton said, "I am not here to bash the current alderman. I am here to show why I am the best. I'm an independent thinker, and I'm a fighter for what's right."
Hamilton said his day job is "about fixing people's problems," and he vowed to apply the same zest if elected.
"I would be readily available and work overtime taking a 2 a.m. call," Hamilton said.
Shaw said she is concerned about city spending and public safety, especially crime statistics which she said she believes are skewed.
Reached earlier in the week, Moreno, who garnered 74 percent of the vote in the 2011 aldermanic election, said he believes he will be re-elected.
"I kicked off my campaign last month with tremendous financial, and more importantly — community — support. I have a great staff and organization, and I am confidant that our work will result in a re-election," Moreno said.
Moreno added, "I pride myself on being the most accessible alderman and am humbled by how many residents support me when I knock on their doors or when they visit my satellite offices."
View Shaw's website, Friends for Anne Shaw, here.
Visit Hamilton's website, run by Friends for Andrew Hamilton, here.
Visit Moreno's website here.
The aldermanic election is Feb. 24.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: