LAKEVIEW — Stephanie Lipman has never missed an election.
The self-described "news junkie" has participated in every election since she turned 18, she told DNAinfo Chicago. Lipman, 51, cast her vote Tuesday afternoon at Nettelhorst Elementary School, 3252 N. Broadway St., in the Chicago election.
"It's really important to vote and be heard," Lipman said. The Lakeview resident said she listens to debates and reads every news article she comes across so she is an informed voter.
Lipman's was one of 112 votes cast at Nettelhorst by 4 p.m. Tuesday, where residents of the 44th ward's 19th and 37th precincts cast their votes.
"Considering the weather, we're happy to have that many," said election judge Vito Cifaldi of the turnout. During presidential elections, voting numbers at the polling site typically surpass 800 by 5 p.m., although activity was picking up Tuesday as the work day ended, he said.
Cifaldi has been an election judge for 18 years and said this was the first time he felt the electronic voting machines worked smoothly, which made the voting process go "so much faster."
While some voters said hopes of a mayoral runoff brought them to the polls, Nancy Schoess was focused on the 44th ward, where incumbent Ald. Tom Tunney is seeking a fourth term.
"I want to see that changed," said Schoess, who added that Belmont Avenue traffic congestion "right past a certain alderman's office" was a major issue for her.
"In the 30 years I've been here, it hasn't changed. It's always a disaster," she said. "I don't know why that can't be improved."
As for the mayoral race, "I think it's just corrupt, and nobody running would change that result," Schoess said.
The latest round of aldermanic races comes at a time when several key issues are churning in Lakeview.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will face an April 7 runoff.
Incumbent Ald. Tom Tunney's decisions regarding Wrigley Field, a medical marijuana dispensary, traffic and crime will be put to the test in the 44th ward, where challengers Mark Thomas and Scott Davis hope to unseat the three-term Lakeview alderman.
"One of the things Tom prides himself on is working hard for the 44th Ward regardless of whether it's election season or not," said campaign manager Bill Doerrer. "He has a really good record of standing up for his community and listening to them."
"Tunney, in his dealings with the Cubs, created an adversarial environment between local business, the Cubs and himself and really put that project at risk," Davis said. "The renovation is going to be awesome and create the premiere baseball experience in the country."
The fiscally conservative Davis said he wants to abolish the city's controversial red-light cameras and tax increment financing. He also wants to reform the public pension system and pledged to opt out of a pension if elected.
Thomas, longtime entrepreneur and owner of The Alley, Taboo Tabou and other shops near Belmont and Clark, said he wants to crack down on crime by hiring off-duty police officers to patrol troubled areas and find community solutions so "the 44th ward can heal the 44th ward."
"I think Tom's an advocate for Tom and the restaurant association. This isn't the Tom Tunney I knew for 20 years," Thomas said. "Tom has allowed construction to just be destructive in this community."
Ald. James Cappleman is seeking a second term in the 46th ward, which includes Uptown, Lakeview, Buena Park and Sheridan Park.
The incumbent alderman is running against attorney Amy Crawford and Denice Davis, chief of staff for former longtime Uptown alderman Helen Shiller.
Affordable housing, human services and public school performance were top issues at a recent 46th ward debate, which Cappleman did not attend.
At the debate, Crawford slammed the alderman, saying "I think it's shameful that we have an alderman who was a social worker but supported slashing mental health clinics."
Davis has said while her work as an alderman would not be identical to Shiller's, she would bring back the community involvement she claims Cappleman is lacking.
"I was out here, and I've been here," she said at the debate. "I know the services you need."
Crawford recently distributed campaign mailers accusing Cappleman of focusing on pigeons rather than crime and affordable housing. Cappleman said last year that pigeon poop has stymied economic development.
The 32nd ward includes parts of Bucktown, East Village, Goose Island, Hamlin Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Palmer Square, Pulaski Park, Roscoe Village and Wicker Park.
Incumbent Ald. Scott Waguespack was elected in 2007 and has pushed for more police in Lakeview after seeing an uptick in break-ins and attempted burglaries. He also instituted guidelines requiring developers to seek a zoning change and get neighbors' approval and voted against the parking meter deal.
Challenger Elise Doody-Jones resigned as treasurer of 1st Ward First and closed her day care business last year to prepare for the aldermanic election. While she doesn't live in the 32nd ward, she said she would relocate if elected and is familiar with the area.
Chicago's first Asian American alderman, Ameya Pawar, is running for his first re-election in the 47th ward, which includes North Center and parts of Ravenswood and Lincoln Square. He touts the creation of GROW47 and $300 million in economic development projects as key accomplishments of his first four years in office.
Challenger Rory Fiedler, former designer/director said he wants to create more affordable housing for seniors and long-time ward residents and convert available green spaces into parks or gardens.
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