It’s only the beginning of August and already the November election is taking shape. I promised myself that I wouldn’t write about the election until at least September (when all the official paperwork from the different candidates is due), but with so many people running, I thought it best to at least take a stab at getting started.
Some basic ground rules for this post: I’m only going to cover the candidates that people in Ward B can vote for. And for this particular post, I’m drawing from publicly available information on the candidates – not talking to them individually. I hope to later do an interview with each candidate, but for now I’m just pulling information that’s already out there on the internet to give readers an overview of what’s going on.
And with that, let’s get started!
City Council: Ward B
Voters get to choose one person to represent our ward on the city council for the next four years. If you’re new to JC West Side politics, you might sense a little confusion surrounding this position because of our recent history with council members. Very long story short: in 2016, we had three councilmen. First, Councilman Chico Ramchal, who was elected as part of Mayor Fulop’s ticket in 2013, had to resign due to pleading guilty to a drunk driving charge. Then, Fulop selected John Hallanan to take his place until a special election was held in November. That election wound up being an upset, with Chris Gadsden winning. Gadsden now has to defend that position again this November. Which leads us to:
- Chris Gadsden is the incumbent. He’s an Assistant Principal at Lincoln High School and is a member of numerous organizations including the NAACP and the Royal Men Foundation. Notable things he’s done as councilman include voting no on SciTech City, introducing a bill to divert money from abatements to the public schools (it was withdrawn at the last minute and will be re-introduced), and co-sponsoring the No Knock Ordinance to protect homeowners from harassment. He’s running as part of Bill Matsikoudis’s slate.
- Mira Prinz Arey was chosen by Mayor Fulop to be part of his slate last week. She’s a board member of WSCA (West Side Community Alliance), the JC Parks Coalition, and Liberty Humane. She is one of the organizers of the Farmers Market at Lincoln Park as well as being co-organizer of the free music series in Lincoln Park.
- Arthur Williams became the first Ward B candidate to get all his signatures and paperwork in and officially be added to the ballot. He’s run for the position before, and currently works as an administrator in the JC public schools.
- Jessica Hellinger has declared her intent to run via a Facebook page. She is identified as being a “mortgage professional” born and raised in JC, and the mother of four.
- I’ve been told by many people that LeKendrick Shaw is running for the position, but I can’t find any links or info to back this up. He ran during the special election and owns the store Gloire in McGinley Square.
There’s also a few additional people buzzing around and dropping hints that they are interested in running. Until things get a little more firmed up, I’m keeping them off the list for now. I’ll add to this as more announce and/or get paperwork in.
Here’s where things get a little (more) confusing. The position of Council at-large represents the entire city. Running for it is basically like running for mayor – you have to get votes from all over the city. You don’t have to vote for an entire slate, you can do it ala carte so to speak, and pick and choose the candidates to support.
- The incumbents are all on Mayor Fulop’s slate: Rolando Lavarro, Daniel Rivera and Joyce Watterman.
- Bill Matsikoudis has his own slate, consisting of Esther Wintner, Michael Winds, and Esmerelda Trinidad.
It’s perhaps notable that both Lavarro and Wintner both live in Ward B.
There are others who are currently seeking signatures, but given that it’s a very steep hill to climb to qualify for the ballot for at-large, I’m leaving them off for now. I’ll add as they qualify.
- Mayor Steve Fulop is the incumbent.
- Former city attorney Bill Matsikoudis is seen as his main challenger
Police detective Charles Mainor recently had a major health scare; I’m told he is remaining in the race. (The day I posted this, he announced he was withdrawing from the race.)
So that’s it for a first stab! It’s a long slog from here to November, and changes are sure to happen. I’ll keep you updated the best I can.