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Far Northwest Siders Give Rahm a Second Term, Despite Anger Over Jet Noise

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia tried to capitalize on anger about jet noise to win over voters in four wards.
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O'HARE — Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia's bid to turn anger about jet noise into votes in the mayor's race failed to take off, with residents of the four Northwest Side wards blanketed by the racket overwhelmingly voting to re-elect Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel defeated Garcia Tuesday with 55 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election returns, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

On the Far Northwest Side — four wards stretching from Portage Park to O'Hare and from Sauganash to Dunning — Emanuel won 60 percent of the vote, according to results.

Emanuel's strongest showing came in the 41st Ward, where he won 63.64 percent of the vote, results show. The ward, which includes Norwood Park, Edison Park, O'Hare, Edgebrook and O'Hare Airport, is home to many police officers, firefighters, teachers and other city employees.

In the first round of voting in the 41st Ward, Ald. Bob Fioretti won 17.4 percent of the vote, giving Garcia supporters hope his campaign could win over Northwest Side voters. Instead, Garcia increased his share of the vote by just 5 percentage points, according to election results.

Despite Emanuel's overwhelming margin of victory in the 41st Ward, his coattails weren't long enough to help one of his most loyal allies win a second term on the City Council.

Chicago firefighter Anthony Napolitano, who repeatedly criticized Ald. Mary O'Connor as a rubber stamp for the mayor's proposals, defeated her with 51.97 percent of the vote.

Residents of the 38th, 39th, 41st and 45th wards have filed tens of thousands of complaints with city officials about the jet noise they say have made it impossible to sleep, spend time in their backyards, play in neighborhood parks or watch television.

Since September 2013 — before the new east-west runway opened as part of the $8.7 billion O'Hare Modernization Program — the number of complaints to city officials has skyrocketed approximately 1,760 percent, according to the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

Members of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition have blasted Emanuel for not doing enough to turn down the volume. Leaders of the group all but urged their members to vote against Emanuel, twice appearing at news conferences to support Garcia, who promised to be more responsive and accessible.

In an email before the votes were counted in the mayoral contest, coalition co-founder Jac Charlier said the group would work with whoever won Tuesday's election.

"Our movement continues on until we have our win," Charlier wrote. "Tens of thousands of citizens in both the city and suburbs are being impacted each and everyday by the massive increase in planes, noise and pollution resulting from the October 2013 changes to the runway takeoff and landing patterns. We are here to stay."

Emanuel promised last week "to come up with a plan" that addresses jet noise on the Northwest Side and said he would consider keeping diagonal runways that could be used to spread the noise around the city — a key demand of anti-noise activists.

Garcia's strongest showing on the Northwest Side came in the 39th Ward, where he won 42 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. That ward includes Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair, Sauganash, Edgebrook, Gladstone Park, Old Irving Park and Forest Glen.

Turnout was higher across the Far Northwest Side than it was citywide, perhaps because of the two hotly contested aldermanic runoffs in the 41st Ward and the 45th Ward. The citywide turnout was 40 percent, elections officials said.

In the 38th Ward, where Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36th) beat six candidates to keep his seat on the council in February, 41.5 percent of registered voters made it to the polls.

In the 39th Ward, where Ald. Margaret Laurino avoided a runoff against second-place finisher Robert Murphy by 360 votes in February, 43 percent of voters cast a ballot.

In the 41st Ward, 53.3 percent of voters cast a ballot.

In the 45th Ward, where Ald. John Arena won a second term, turnout was 49.4 percent.

DNAinfo/Tanveer Ali

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