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Landlords M. Fishman, Wilmot Put Ward Endorsements Under Tenant Doors

By Darryl Holliday | February 20, 2015 8:17am | Updated on February 20, 2015 8:34am
 M. Fishman backs 35th Ward Ald. Rey Colon, while Wilmot Properties supports 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno.
M. Fishman backs 35th Ward Ald. Rey Colon, while Wilmot Properties supports 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno.
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LOGAN SQUARE — In addition to campaign contributions and ballots cast for the aldermanic candidates of their choice, yet another way to get out the vote has been discovered by some city landords — slipping endorsement letters under the doors of their tenants.

At least two major Logan Square developers and property owners are skipping direct mail and going directly for their tenants living rooms, using their building access to post and push endorsements into apartments around Logan Square.

“On February 24th, you’ll be casting your ballot for Alderman and at this pivotal time for the 35th Ward, it’s vital you elect someone with the vision, plan and skills necessary to continue to move our community forward,” landlord Mark Fishman wrote in a statement wedged under the doors of his M. Fishman & Co. tenants this week. “When you go to vote on February 24, vote for Alderman Rey Colon.”

Campaign contributions and zoning approvals between the alderman and Fishman are well-documented, but some of the developer's tenants say this latest round of support crosses the line into their private space.

Of three tenants interviewed from separate Logan Square buildings, one found a landlord endorsement in a doorjamb, two found letters pushed under their doors, and all three asked that their names not be used.

“I have mixed feelings about the letter,” one tenant said via email. “While we all have freedom of speech, I do feel that this letter being delivered to and tucked under my door (versus mailed) was a bit intrusive and speaks to the buddy-buddy relationship Fishman and Colon have. As Fishman is my landlord, I do not appreciate him trying to use that role to influence my vote.”

When asked about the letters, Ald. Rey Colon (35th) said stuffing apartment doors with property owner endorsements is a move not endorsed by his campaign.

“It’s never happened before. I was aware that [Fishman] was going to let his tenants know why he's supporting me. I figured tenants that rent from him might like him or want to take his recommendation, [but] I was under the impression he was going to mail them in a post card or a letter,” Colon said. “If it’s something being put under the door, it’s not something I knew about.”

Fishman did not return calls for comment.

Fishman operates at least 22 residential and commercial buildings in the area, but he isn’t the only landlord representing an elected official. The owners of Logan Square-based realty company Wilmot Properties also posted messages to individual apartments in their collection of residential, commercial, single-family and town home buildings this week.

At least three of Wilmot's 24 buildings, including its headquarters at 1801 N. Humboldt Blvd., will move into the 1st Ward when Chicago’s redistricted ward map goes into effect after Tuesday's election.

The letter urged tenants to meet with a representative from the office of 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno, who knocked on doors to meet with new constituents the next day.

“Please be advised that this Tuesday, February 17th around 6:30 PM Orlando, [an] aldermanic aide from the Alderman Proco Joe Moreno’s office [from the] 1st Ward will be trying to contact you directly to encourage you to vote,” a Feb. 16 letter to its North California Avenue tenants read. “We appreciate your collaboration in this matter.”

“It was just weird to get one directly from the landlord,” a California Avenue tenant said of the message, folded in the doorjamb of the building’s 18 units. "It’s odd to have a landlord even involved in the conversation."

"[The letter] was just vague enough that you don’t really know what it means,” said the tenant, who identified as a supporter of Moreno on several neighborhood issues.

A call to Wilmot for comment was not returned.

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