EDISON PARK — A Chicago firefighter will run against Ald. Mary O'Connor to represent the 41st Ward on the Chicago City Council.
Anthony Napolitano, who lives in Edison Park with his wife and three children, said he jumped into the race to protect the area he calls an "utopia" and said he would be a more responsive, transparent alderman.
"I want to take care of the community," said Napolitano, who was a Chicago police officer from 2000 to 2005 before joining the Fire Department.
Napolitano said he decided to run for alderman after he found himself frequently complaining to his friends and family members about the state of the ward, which includes Edison Park, Norwood Park, O'Hare and parts of Edgebrook.
"I would be a full-time alderman," said Napolitano, who followed his father and many other relatives onto the police force.
Heather Cherone says O'Connor is closer to the mayor than other Northwest Side aldermen:
O'Connor, who is running for her second term on the City Council where she has frequently voted to support Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said the 41st Ward had undergone a "remarkable revitalization" under her leadership after being neglected for decades.
More than $100 million has spent to improve and expand schools in the 41st Ward, and all of the playgrounds in the area will have new equipment and play surfaces by the end of 2016, O'Connor said.
Napolitano said he would be a "thorn in the mayor's side" to ensure that the 41st Ward got its fair share of city services and resources.
"I would vote to represent my constituents, and I know they don't support the mayor 100 percent of the time," said Napolitano, adding that he would consider joining the council's progressive reform caucus and considers Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36th), who is running to represent the 38th Ward, to be his aldermanic role model.
As of Sept. 30, O'Connor had approximately $59,000 on hand in her campaign committee after raising about $57,500 since August, according to state records.
Napolitano has about $6,000 on hand as of Sept. 30, after raising approximately $9,000, according to state records.
Candidates can submit their petitions to the board of elections to get on the ballot starting Monday, with the process closing at the end of business Nov. 24. The election is Feb. 24.
Napolitano said he would work to have more police officers assigned to the Jefferson Park Police District, which includes the 41st Ward, and work to ensure that requests for city services — like tree trimming and snow plowing — are filled quicker.
Napolitano's family recently adopted a dog from a local shelter after a spate of burglaries hit their neighborhood.
"I'm scared when I leave my wife and three kids for 24 hours," said Napolitano, who also works as a police officer in the suburbs to allow his wife, Jamie, to stay home with their children, all of whom attend public schools.
Napolitano vowed never to vote to raise property taxes to cover the $550 million pension payment that the state Legislature has ordered the city to make to the city police and fire pension systems by 2016.
"There are other ways to bridge the gap," Napolitano said. "We have to think outside the box."
Instead, Napolitano said he wanted to see a Las Vegas-style casino built Downtown to raise money, or taxes raised on luxury goods such as limousine rides.
"Taxes keep going up, but we keep getting less and less," Napolitano said. "That has to stop."
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