BRIDGEPORT — John Kozlar, candidate for the 11th Ward aldermanic seat, has launched his campaign website with a tagline of "Together."
"Everybody talks about 'The machine,' but the only machine is the voters. When people come together and want change in the community, that's a machine," said Kozlar, 25, of Bridgeport. "All we ask for is a chance."
Best known for heading up the Canaryville Little League, Kozlar is a law student at the John Marshall Law School who graduated from the University of Chicago with a political science degree. He ran against Ald. James Balcer (11th) in 2011, garnering 22 percent of the vote.
This time around, the political landscape is different.
Local activist Maureen Sullivan entered the race last month touting a progressive agenda that rips what she calls the "old-boy leadership" in the 11th Ward, including Balcer and the Daley political dynasty.
Two weeks later, Balcer announced he wouldn't seek re-election because of complications from post-traumatic stress disorder.
And just a few hours after Balcer's announcement, Patrick Daley Thompson — grandson of former Mayor Richard J. Daley and nephew to former Mayor Richard M. Daley and Cook County Commissioner John Daley — officially threw his hat in the ring.
Both Kozlar and Sullivan said they want to topple Machine-style politics in the ward, and Kozlar isn't concerned their rival candidacies will split the vote.
If Kozlar and Sullivan prevent Thompson from capturing more than 50 percent of the vote, there would be a run-off and one of the candidates would face him head-on.
On his new website, Kozlar lays out some of his plans for economic development and service improvements, including the creation of a new sports field, and ice rink and a bowling alley, among other businesses he hopes to lure to the ward, which includes Bridgeport, Armour Square and Canaryville but has been now been redrawn to include parts of Pilsen and University Village.
He's also hoping to revive the long-closed Ramova Theater as a shot in the arm for Halsted Street and wants to start an online platform for tracking citizens' service requests.
If those aspirations seem familiar, that's because Sullivan thought of them first, said her campaign spokesman and partner Rob Warmowski. Sullivan in 2005 founded the Save the Ramova campaign and last week introduced a plan to use a online request-tracking program.
"John's website is another case of Maureen Sullivan leading and her challengers following ... we're not surprised that late entries into the race find value in her ideas," he said.
Kozlar, meanwhile, said he's looking forward to hitting the streets and talking with residents about their concerns and telling people more about himself.
He's against what he calls the "abuse" of tax increment financing, pledges to hold the line on new taxes and supports charter schools, but said he understands why the latter can be a polarizing issue.
"I kind of hate the wording off it. When you say 'charter' you get a reaction. For me, who's been in Chicago Public Schools and private schools, I'm a big proponent of giving the best possible choice for families.
"Right now the main thing is going door-to-door. This would be a dream job of mine and right now there's a lot of motivation, a lot of positive feedback that we can win," he said.
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