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Voters in Wards 49, 50 Hit Polls in City Election

By Benjamin Woodard | February 24, 2015 4:56am | Updated on February 24, 2015 7:13pm
 A resident casts a vote at a 49th Ward polling place Tuesday.
A resident casts a vote at a 49th Ward polling place Tuesday.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

ROGERS PARK — Voters headed to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of 49th and 50th Ward candidates.

Rogers Park resident Sherry Davis said she proudly exercised her right to vote, but didn't foresee for any change in leadership.

"I already know who's gonna win. Rahm's gonna win, Joe Moore's gonna win. I'm cynical," said the 50-year-old, referring to the incumbents.

Davis cast her vote along with a steady stream of voters as the sun set on a Morse Avenue polling place.

Moore (49th) and Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) hope to defend seats on the City Council Tuesday.

At a 50th Ward polling place, supporters for the two challengers — Zehra Quadria and Shajan Kuriakose — were out in force Tuesday night. But their aggressive  campaigning triggered the interest of police officers, who were called after some were clearly involved in electioneering at Warren Park.

The campaign supporters stopped and made pitches to voters as they entered the field house to cast the ballot. Some were lined up less than 100 feet from the polling place, which was not allowed.

"Y'all are breaking my 100-feet rule," one election judge told them.

Police arrived soon after.

Voters didn't seem to mind the drama, however.

"I think we have to vote," said Nana Bonsu, 58, after he cast his ballot. "It's better for everyone to vote."

49th Ward

Moore, first elected in 1991, faced only Don Gordon after one of Moore's supporters filed successful challenges against four other prospective candidates. Gordon nearly beat Moore in a 2007 runoff election, losing by 251 votes.

The 49th Ward election race has mostly been fought online and on street corners as the candidates seek supporters. The two have not participated together in candidate forums or debates.

Ald. Joe Moore (l.) and Don Gordon

Moore said last month he had a substantial lead in a poll commissioned by D.C.-based pollster Anzalone Liszt Grove Research in December.

Moore had also amassed $114,333 in campaign contributions by the end of 2014, according to campaign records. Meanwhile, Gordon has vowed to not accept any contributions and is instead running a self-funded, low-cost campaign, he said.

Gordon says Rogers Park and the 49th Ward is in need of new leadership, adding that Moore has been inattentive to the needs of his constituents. Gordon, an an adjunct lecturer of political science at Northwestern University, also supports an elected school board and a moratorium on tax increment financing.

Moore has boasted about helping to bring Jewel-Osco to the neighborhood after Dominick's closed. He also has said his participatory budgeting program has benefited residents.

50th Ward challengers

50th Ward

In the 50th Ward, Silverstein faced two challengers on the ballot and two more write-in candidates after her first term on the council. She hopes to avoid a runoff.

Candidate Shajan Kuriakose, a financial consultant, has big plans to bring more small businesses to the ward and support the ones already there. Kuriakose said he would also seek to showcase West Rogers Park's distinct ethnic communities.

At a candidate forum last week, Kuriakose expressed support for an elected school board and opposition to charter schools.

Candidate Zehra Quadri founded ZAM's Hope Community Resource Center on Devon Avenue 17 years ago. She said at the forum she would allow constituents to decide where to spend the $1.3 million discretionary funding aldermen receive each year from the city. She also supported reform of tax increment financing.

Silverstein has said she ran for office four years ago against Bernard Stone on the fact "we need to improve constituent services." And she said she's succeeded.

Peter Sifnotis, a student and Marine veteran, and Fuji Shioura, an educator and technologist, were tossed off the ballot by the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners so they are running as write-in candidates.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Problems with voting can be reported to the Board of Elections online at chicagoelections.com or by calling 312-269-7870.

If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote on Feb. 24, the top two vote-getters will square off in a runoff on April 7.

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