SOUTH CHICAGO — Staggering amounts of money are flowing into the heated 10th Ward aldermanic race between Ald. John Pope and Susan Sadlowski Garza.
The candidates are estimated to be sitting on a combined total of $617,240, according to filings with the state as of Thursday. The sums dwarf other runoff elections in the city, and the candidates have raised nearly $230,000 since the Feb. 24 election.
Pope and Garza are locked in a bitter campaign for control of the aldermanic seat for South Chicago, East Side, Hegewisch and South Deering, the heart of the declining industrial base of the city. The two have clashed on what to do about unemployment, pollution and other issues in the middle- and working-class ward.
Pope has raised nearly $140,000 since the Feb. 24 election, but has faced criticism for filling his campaign fund, estimated to be nearly $440,000, with contributions from heavy industry, including the companies in the ward that store and transport petcoke, the dirty byproduct of oil refineries.
In interviews Thursday, Pope said his authority comes from the voters of the ward, not his donors, and said he’s taken a firm stance against polluters.
“We can’t control who donates to our campaign or not,” Pope said.
Pope’s largest donation, $10,000 on March 10, came from Asphalt Operating Services of Chicago, which in 2010 got a commitment from the city for $45 million in bonds to build a 50-acre storage facility in South Deering.
Garza’s campaign has raised more than $90,000 since the Feb. 24 election, much of it from service-sector unions. On March 18, the SEIU Illinois Council PAC Fund gave Garza’s campaign a $52,600 injection of cash.
"I think it speaks volumes on the change people want to see in the 10th Ward," Garza said of the volume of fundraising during the runoff.
The river of money into the 10th Ward is likely to accelerate in the coming days. Pope said he is holding another fundraiser on Friday. Pope’s supporters seem quick to offer the money. From March 20-23, Pope added $45,000 to his campaign fund.
Chicago Forward, the independent expenditure committee supporting Rahm Emanuel, is also likely to focus its spending again in the 10th Ward.
Becky Carroll, chairwoman of the committee, said Thursday the group would be reporting new spending in the 10th Ward and other wards in the coming days.
Pope benefited from $56,590 in spending from Chicago Forward on his behalf in the lead-up to the Feb. 24 election.
"We haven't seen anything from Chicago Forward this time around," Garza said of Carroll's claims that it was spending money in the 10th Ward race.
Despite the large amounts of cash flowing into the ward, it’s unclear how it’s being spent.
A $3,750 chunk of Garza’s campaign cash from the Chicago Teachers Union was used for door knocking and field canvassing, according to filings with the state.
The candidates will not report their full expenditures until after the April 7 election.
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