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Voters Head To Polls For Aldermanic Runoff Races

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Residents of 14 of Chicago's 50 wards are heading to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots in runoff elections for alderman.

As CBS 2's Susanna Song reports, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has endorsed candidates in nine in the 14 races, and he knows the outcome of the races determines how effective he is at implementing his agenda.

Emanuel came out in a show of support for his endorsed candidates from campaign parties to door-to-door greetings. He also invested more than a couple hundred thousand dollars on the runoff races, mostly toward incumbents.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Regine Schlesinger reports


"I'll work with the campaigns on what is most effective in their individual areas," Emanuel said, "but we need a partnership, which doesn't' mean we always agree, but a partner that is committed to reform."

Emanuel says he wants faces on the City Council who are on his side, when it comes to changing education and neighborhoods.

"Before I will support a candidate, incumbent or not, [I want to know] 'Are you for changing both City Hall, both the fifth floor and the City Council?'" Emanuel said. "'Where are you on the goals I've set for the city and achieving those goals?' If that's the case, a number of incumbents have said they're there."

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine says the relationship between the mayor and the City Council under Emanuel will be different from how it was under Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"The rules are changing in this City Council – strong mayor, weak council – no more," Levine said. "Council members are going to have more clout now, and the mayor is going to have less clout, because there's less money to spend on projects and perks to give to the aldermen who go his way, or withhold from those who don't."

Emanuel has largely endorsed incumbents – Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) over challenger Roderick Sawyer, the son of late alderman and Acting Mayor Eugene Sawyer; Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) over challenger Raymond Lopez; Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th) over challenger Hal Baskin; Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th) over challenger David Moore; Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) over challenger Che "Rhymefest" Smith; Ald. Daniel Solis (25th) over challenger Cuauhtemoc Morfin; Ald. John Rice (36th) over challenger Nicholas Sposato; and recently-appointed Ald. Timothy Cullerton (38th) over challenger Ton Caravette;

But in one of the most contentious races, Emanuel is not endorsing an incumbent. He is backing Debra Silverstein for alderman of the 50th Ward in the West Rogers Park neighborhood, over challenger Bernard Stone, who has represented the ward since 1973.

Stone lashed out at Emanuel and Silverstein last week, saying the mayor-elect had endorsed Silverstein because he wants a puppet in the City Council, and a "two-fer" referring to support from Silverstein's husband: Illinois State Sen. Ira Silverstein.

Emanuel has not issued an endorsement in the wards where no incumbent is running.

In the Northwest Side's 41st Ward, the seat now held by Brian Doherty is up for grabs. His aide, Maurita Gavin, is vying against caterer and Democratic committeeman Mary O'Connor.

The ward includes the Edgebrook, Norwood Park, Oriole Park, Union Ridge, Big Oaks and O'Hare neighborhoods, parts of the Jefferson Park neighborhood, and O'Hare International Airport.

Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido and graphic design company owner John Arena are fighting for the seat being vacated by Ald. Patrick Levar (45th). That ward, also on the Northwest Side, includes parts of the Jefferson Park, Portage Park and Old Irving Park neighborhoods.

If both Gavin and Garrido win, the Republican contingent in the City Council will be doubled.

Michele Smith and Tim Egan are vying to replace Vi Daley for the 43rd Ward in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, and Molly Phelan and James Cappelman are fighting to replace the retiring Helen Shiller in the Uptown neighborhood's 46th Ward.

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners predicts voter turnout Tuesday will be in the 20 percent rage, about half of the turnout for the February election.

"This is a critical election for everyday issues that face citizens of Chicago," said board Chairman Langdon Neal. "It should be quick, signing the ballot application should take longer than casting vote, one contest to vote for, get in and out, so please come out to vote."

Several suburbs are also holding elections Tuesday. Among others, longtime incumbent mayors George Pradel and Al Larson are facing challenges in Naperville and Schaumburg, respectively, and in Chicago Heights Joe Faso and David Gonzalez are in the midst of a heated campaign that has already resulted in a lawsuit between them.

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