By Mark Wachtler
January 16, 2015. Chicago. (ONN) The race for 38th Ward Alderman on Chicago’s northwest side is shaping up to be interesting and exciting. The Cullerton family’s 144-year strangle hold on elective office is coming to an end in this area with Tim Cullerton’s retirement. Nine candidates filed to run for his open City Council seat. Of them, seven have survived BoE scrutiny and will appear on the ballot. Two politically connected candidates are picked to make it to the run-off. But it’s two other candidates that are already shining.
Belinda Cadiz, candidate for 38th Ward Alderman.
Among the above candidates, more than half of them have run for Chicago Alderman in the past. And two of the others have extensive experience working in and around Chicago City Hall. One is a current Alderman of the neighboring 36th Ward. One is a current City Council staffer. And one is the daughter of the outgoing Alderman’s secretary.
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Meet the candidates
As a grassroots, independent news outlet, the Illinois Herald doesn’t have the resources to investigate each and every candidate for Alderman, especially when there are 198 of them and only two months to do it. But, as a grassroots, independent news outlet, we’re more than active in the precincts and your author, at one point or another in the past, has personally met with and spoken to almost every candidate for 38th Ward Alderman. Here’s our first impression.
Jerry Paszek – Your author remembers Jerry Paszek from his bid for Alderman of the 41st Ward, what seems like decades ago. He’s a 23-year veteran of the Forest Preserve Police Department and very active with the Catholic Church and various Catholic charities. He’s a likable guy who had the backing of independent voters against the machine candidate the first time he ran. This time around, it’s a good bet that the honest family man will be the candidate of the religious faithful, regular church-goers and even a decent share of union voters. Visit his campaign website here.
Tom Caravette – This is the third time in the last four years that Tom Caravette has run for 38th Ward Alderman. From a field of 8 candidates four years ago, he placed second in the Municipal Election and lost to incumbent Alderman Tim Cullerton in the run-off. Another very likable person and dedicated father and husband, Caravette is starting two steps ahead of most of the other candidates with an army of experienced precinct volunteers already in place. A verifiable independent who was endorsed by Democrats, Republicans and independents alike last time around, Caravette has been the anti-Machine political leader in the 38th Ward for the last decade. For the record, this author endorsed Tom Caravette four years ago out of the full field of candidates. If voters want an independent representative on the City Council that will stand up to the Machine, the unions and the multi-national corporations, Caravette is your man. It’s also worth mentioning Tom Caravette was the victim of a six-figure slander campaign by the incumbent Machine Alderman four years ago, and the Sun Times and Tribune both investigated and found all accusations against Caravette to be completely untrue. Meet Tom Caravette yourself by watching his campaign commercial from 2011.
Heather Sattler – The only thing this author knows about Heather Sattler is the same thing that publications like Nadig News have reported - she’s the daughter of current 38th Ward Alderman Tim Cullerton’s former Chief of Staff. She’s also the hand-picked Machine candidate, and as detailed by DNA Info, the candidate endorsed by outgoing Alderman Cullerton. In the 38th Ward, where nepotism has ruled for generations, Heather Sattler - the daughter of the Alderman’s secretary - is the perfect candidate.
Nicholas Sposato – Alderman Nick Sposato is a member of the anti-Emanuel Progressive Caucus in the Chicago City Council and somewhat popular…in his own 36th Ward. But the unconditionally pro-union Alderman was remapped into a majority Hispanic Ward and forced to move into the neighboring 38th Ward in a last-ditch effort to hold onto his City Council seat. Sposato is a curious figure in that he’s fully endorsed by the city’s government employees unions, but his staff includes the Republican Chief of Staff for former 41st Ward Republican Alderman Brian Doherty. If you’re a union member who votes for union-endorsed candidates, Nick Sposato is your man.
Michael Duda – We know the name, but can’t place where we know candidate Michael Duda from. And as evidenced by a separate report from Heather Cherone and DNA Info two days ago, nobody seems to know who he is, except that he’s a retired city employee. ‘Duda, who does not have a campaign website or Facebook page and is not listed in the phone book, could not be reached for comment,’ the publication writes, ‘In addition, Duda has not created a committee with state officials that would allow him to accept campaign contributions.’
Carmen Hernandez – Another veteran of the race for 38th Ward Alderman four years ago is military veteran Carmen Hernandez. He’s also another very likable individual who is as passionate about serving his country and community as he is about running for Alderman. The strongest memory this author has of Carmen Hernandez and his previous bid for City Council is from the 2011 candidates debate. He greeted the audience in English, Spanish and Polish. His volunteers have already been spotted out in the Ward ringing doorbells, even in the bitter cold weather. His campaign Facebook page reveals his campaign’s new slogan, ‘Elect a Vet - It’s our Ward, It’s our Time.’
Belinda Cadiz – Your author and the Illinois Herald love first-time citizen-candidates. We also love single parents. Belinda Cadiz is both, and a surprisingly competitive candidate in the race for 38th Ward Alderman, or Alderwoman in this case. The City Hall legislative aid was the first candidate out of the box with her campaign signs appearing on the eastern side of the Ward this week. She was also the first candidate to begin canvassing the Ward with campaign fliers back in the fall. Your author has met Belinda Cadiz numerous times in this short election season already and she is as nice and warm as she is intelligent and experienced. Her campaign Facebook page details how she is a lifelong northwest side resident and a working single mother of two boys for over a decade. She’s a legislative staffer at City Hall with the connections that come with the job. But she’s running without their apparent help and as a pro-union independent Democrat. If there’s one candidate in this race who will surprise the pundits and experts, it’s Belinda Cadiz.
Well, that’s the field in your author’s somewhat biased opinion. To view the full sample ballot, visit the Chicago Board of Elections. There are two candidate debates scheduled. The first is January 21st at St. Pascal’s grade school. The second is January 29th at St. Patrick’s high school.
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