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New 2nd Ward Alderman To Face Big Hurdles With Entirely New Boundaries

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) aiming to oust Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the upcoming election, six candidates are vying to replace Fioretti as alderman, and will face plenty of challenges in a ward where boundaries have completely changed since the last election.

In a move that was widely seen as payback for Fioretti's frequent criticism of Emanuel, he was mapped out of the 2nd ward when new boundaries were drawn in 2011.

Not a single block of the old 2nd Ward is contained in the new ward.

When you ask the six candidates in the 2nd Ward what is most on the minds of voters there, most candidates say it's the ward itself.

Cornell Wilson, a former U.S. Marine and an attorney said the candidates in the 2nd Ward have a key task in a ward that once covered parts of the South Loop, West Loop, and Near West Side; but now looks like a horseshoe covering parts of the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, Bucktown.

"The hardest part is just convincing the 2nd Ward citizens that they are not going to be left without city services. They've been done a disservice through this map that is not compact or contiguous," Wilson said.


Attorney and former congressional aide Alyx Pattison said, "honestly, in the 2nd Ward, it's so unique, and people feel – even though, from my perspective, as a candidate, I'm hearing the same themes across the ward – they feel very disconnected from their neighbors."

Rival candidate Brian Hopkins, a longtime activist and Cook County government aide, said the challenge will be to make those connections with actions

"On day one, the new alderman of the 2nd Ward is going to have a very long task list, and the phone is going to be ringing off the hook. There's things that need to be done. As a candidate for this job, I fully appreciate what I'm getting myself into," he said.

Bita Buenrostro, a restaurant company executive, said the remap of the ward leaves it diverse and scattered geographically.

"From the hustle and bustle on Gold Coast to the Ukrainian Village that is actually a village, across the river we have Finkel Steel that needs to be developed. My job is to bring all this diversity together," she said.

Former educational TV producer Stephen Niketopoulos said communications will be a challenge.

"What I want to do with the ward is build not only an online network for the 2nd Ward – because not everybody can make a Wednesday night meeting, or a Thursday meeting, or a ward time – but also to basically be a walking office," he said.

Stacey Pfingsten, who was a Fioretti staffer, suggested the new 2nd Ward office must be nimble.

"With this ward, every neighborhood is going to have to be treated differently, and they have different issues, and it's going to be a personal touch, I think, to every neighborhood," she said. "There's no blanket approach to managing this new ward."

All six candidates have insisted they're up to the task.

The new 2nd Ward and some other aldermanic races are the focus of this week's "At Issue" program, airing Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on WBBM Newsradio 780.

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