CHICAGO — A sprawling ward with boundaries dipping in and out of several neighborhoods — so much so that even its own alderman has called the map "worthy of a joke" — is not stopping six contenders from running for the post in February.
The 2nd Ward alderman seat will have no incumbent in February because Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) will no longer live in the ward after the city's new ward map boundaries take effect.
Fioretti is also mulling whether he will challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Alisa Hauser says that many people don't even know they live in the newly drawn (and gerrymandered) 2nd Ward:
Among the candidates for 2nd Ward alderman are two lawyers, a staffer for Fioretti, an aide to Cook County Commissioner John Daley, a restaurant executive, and a community organizer who announced his candidacy in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
The new 2nd Ward, which looks like a horseshoe as it cuts through portions of the lakefront, covers parts of the Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park and Bucktown, specifically on North Avenue from the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection west to Leavitt Street.
Fioretti, who filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the new ward map is unfair, told a group of Wicker Park residents last April that it was designed to defeat him.
Sean Tenner, owner of KNI Communications, a political consulting firm, is serving as a campaign manager for Gold Coast resident Cornell Wilson, a Marine Corps veteran who kicked off his campaign in late June.
"Everyone I am talking to thinks there will be a runoff. It's pretty unanimous," Tenner said.
A runoff means that if none of the candidates gets a majority, or at least 51 percent, of the vote on Feb. 24, there will be a second election in April between the two candidates who got the most votes in the general election.
Wilson, who still serves in the Marine reserves and who will be promoted to major in 2015, has about $28,000 in his campaign coffers, most of it his own money, according to documents filed with the city's Board of Election Commissioners.
Wilson worked as a corporate law attorney for a Downtown firm before leaving his job in July so he could campaign for the seat full time.
"We've been going full force," Tenner said.
Wilson is joined by candidates Alyx Pattison, a West Town resident who works as an attorney and serves as a community representative on Jose de Diego School's Local School Council.
Steve Niketopoulos, a media producer and community organizer who is the administrator for several neighborhood group Facebook pages, announced his candidacy on Wednesday.
"I had a lot of feedback that nobody running in the 2nd Ward had a real connection to the neighborhoods," Niketopoulos said.
Hosted by Neighbors for Steve Niketopoulos, a campaign kickoff party is scheduled for 5:30-7 p.m Wednesday at the Hideout, 1354 Wabansia Ave.
Niketopoulos said he is running "more like a representative for the people in the neighborhoods because the ward is designed so that it is impossible to govern."
If elected, Niketopoulos said he would try to use the fragmented ward map to his advantage by bringing neighborhood groups throughout the ward together so that they can collectively have a say in how the ward's money is being spent.
Stacey Pfingsten, a community outreach coordinator for Fioretti, filed her campaign documents on Wednesday, according to the Illinois Board of Elections website.
The Committee to Elect Stacey Pfingsten already has amassed $4,500 in donations, according to documents filed with the board.
Reached by email, Pfingsten declined to comment on her campaign efforts while working for Fioretti.
Pfingsten said she plans to stop working for Fioretti by the end of the week.
The contender eyeing the 2nd Ward seat for the longest amount of time is Brian Hopkins, an aide to Cook County Commissioner John Daley.
Hopkins announced his plans to run against Fioretti in November.
Created in November, Hopkins for Chicago has about $57,000 in its campaign coffers, according to the city's Election Board.
Also on the race is Bita Buenrostro, a restaurant executive who previously ran for 43rd Ward alderman in 2011.
Citizens for Bita Buenrostro has raised close to $25,000 in campaign donations, nearly one-fourth from Buenrostro's husband, Marcus Buenrostro, according to the Election Board website.
Based on voter turnout in the 2011 mayoral and aldermanic election, Tenner said he is expecting about 11,000 of the new 2nd Ward's 31,302 registered voters to vote in February.
When asked if he believes Wilson or any of the other candidates would be intimidated by the fact there are so many people running, Tenner said that with so many candidates splitting the vote, a candidate who has just 1,700 or 2,000 votes could make the runoff.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime open seat that someone with hard work and good strategy can win," Tenner said.
Do you live in the 2nd Ward?
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2nd Ward candidate websites, as of Wednesday
Bita Buenrostro; bitanow.com
Brian Hopkins; brianhopkinsforchicago.com
Steve Niketopoulos; Steve Niketopoulos for Alderman Facebook page. No website yet.
Alyx Pattison; alyxpattison.org
Stacey Pfingsten; no website yet.
Cornell Wilson; CornellWilson.com
The general election is Feb. 24. The runoff election, if necessary, would be April 7.
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