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Progressive Aldermen Getting Reinforcements on City Council

By Ted Cox | April 8, 2015 3:52pm
 Ald. Nick Sposato, along with Aldermen Scott Waguespack and John Arena in the background, are getting reinforcements on the Progressive Reform Caucus.
Ald. Nick Sposato, along with Aldermen Scott Waguespack and John Arena in the background, are getting reinforcements on the Progressive Reform Caucus.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — Progressives on the City Council proclaim they might have lost the big one in the mayor's race, but they appear to be making strong gains in the council.

Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) is a lame duck after his unsuccessful run against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but the seven remaining members of the Progressive Reform Caucus all won re-election.

That was after Emanuel and his Chicago Forward super political action committee specifically targeted Aldermen Scott Waguespack (32nd) and John Arena (45th) for defeat with negative ad campaigns. At the same time, Aldermen Toni Foulkes (15th) and Nicholas Sposato (36th) both won re-election in different wards (the 16th and 38th, respectively) after their old wards were made inhospitable in the Emanuel-approved remap.

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would welcome productive solutions from any member of the City Council.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would welcome productive solutions from any member of the City Council.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

Aldermen-elect David Moore (17th) and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) have both already aligned themselves with the progressive caucus after winning outright in the Feb. 24 election. At least a handful of additional reinforcements joined them with victories in Tuesday's runoffs.

"A pretty good night for the caucus, and mainly for what the caucus stands for — independence," Sposato said Wednesday morning. "A bad night to be a rubber-stamper, good night for the independents."

Sposato considers Aldermen-elect Chris Taliaferro (29th) and Anthony Napolitano (41st) "for sure" new members of the progressive caucus, adding that he's "confident" Ald.-elect Gilbert Villegas (36th), whom he supported in his old ward, is "coming with us."

Sposato also mentioned Alderman-elect Milly Santiago (31st) as a possibility, as well as Susan Sadlowski Garza if she can hold on to a razor-slim lead over Ald. John Pope (10th) in a race still considered too close to call.

Emanuel said Wednesday he was agreeable to working with the new City Council, no matter its makeup.

"We have two models that I don't think work," Emanuel said. "I reject whole-heartedly, on one end of the spectrum, Council Wars. It was unproductive and had serious consequences for the city."

Council Wars, of course, was the era in the mid-'80s when 29 white aldermen led by Ed Vrdolyak (10th) and Edward Burke (14th) produced gridlock in the council in an attempt to thwart Mayor Harold Washington.

"I totally reject rubber stamp," Emanuel added. "I want the City Council to be part of reform and change."

He encouraged any and all aldermen to bring forth potential solutions to city problems.

Neighborhood groups and unions affiliated under the umbrella organization United Working Families cheered the election of those aldermen-to-be Wednesday.

"While we're disappointed by the result of the mayor's race, we have a lot that we can keep our backs straight and our heads high about," said Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey. "It's starting to look like there's an important layer of opposition."

The group said it would be intent on making sure candidates who ran as progressives would stay true to the cause and not sell the movement out, as sometimes happened after the 2007 and 2011 municipal elections.

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