Just as the news from state and federal elections die down, the city of Chicago begins to prepare for local races. Several gay and lesbian candidates are running, including three incumbent aldermen.
Nov. 24 was the deadline for candidates to submit their papers for the city election, to be held Feb. 24, 2015. Runoff elections will follow April 7, 2015, only for races where one candidate does not receive a majority of votes cast.
Incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel will face 9 challengers, unless any are challenged off the ballot.
One openly gay man, Dennis Sneyers, had announced he was running for mayor, but he did not file petitions by the deadline.
Among Emanuel's opponents are Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, long active in Illinois politics and a current member of the Cook County Board; 2nd Ward Ald. Robert W. "Bob" Fioretti; Frederick Collins, a Chicago police officer who, in 2012, was a Republican opponent to Sheriff Tom Dart; political activist Amara Enyia; businessman and gospel singer Willie Wilson; former 9th Ward Ald. Robert Shaw; Gerald T. Sconyers, a minister; activist William "Dock" Walls, III, who previously ran for mayor in 2007 and 2011; and Fenton C. Patterson, who ran in the previous election but was disqualified.
Garcia has received the endorsement of the Chicago Teachers Union as well as Cook County Clerk David Orr. Emanuel's war chest is reportedly at around $9 million. On Nov. 19, Wilson, who owns a medical supply company, told WLS-TV that he has access to more money than any of the challengers to Emanuel.
Guide to the gays
Among the members of the LGBT community who are also running in February are activist Marc Loveless, who is vying to unseat Susana Mendoza as Chicago's city clerk. Loveless, longtime head of the Coalition for Justice and Respect, stepped down from his post in June to run for office, and told Windy City Times, "This role is built to inspire civic engagement and can also function as an office that can give people answers when they need them the most."
In the 33rd Ward, lesbian Ald. Deb Mell will face off against Tim Meegan, a social studies instructor at Roosevelt High School; Annisa Wanat, a nonprofit consultant; and Tyler Soloria, a student and activist for veterans' causes.
Openly gay Ald. Tom Tunney faces challenges to his 44th Ward seat from businessman Mark Thomas; management consultant and activist Scott Davis; and State Restaurant General Manager Robin Cook.
Openly gay 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman will run against lesbian candidate Amy Crawford, an attorney, as well as Denice Davis, an activist who is the former chief of staff to former Ald. Helen Shiller.
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the city's first openly gay Latino candidate to run for alderman, is challenging incumbent Rey Colon to represent the 35th Ward. In September, Ramirez-Rosa told Windy City Times, "I am tired of the direction our city is going in. I see our public dollars handed out to private pockets while our potholes aren't being fixed and our schools are neglected. I also see the need for elected officials who are … building relationships with community and advocacy groups." Walter Zarnecki is also vying for the seat, according to election board records.
Openly gay Joe Laiacona, who in 2010 ran against Mell in the House primary race, is this year challenging longtime Ald. Margaret Laurino for her seat representing the 39th Ward. Laiacona told NBC-5 that he is running because the district is changing and he thinks that Laurino has become disconnected from her constituents. Robert Murphy and Mary Hunter are also running.
Other notable races
Forty-eighth ward Ald. Harry Osterman, whose district includes much of Edgewater and Andersonville, is among four council members running unopposed.
Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno ( 1st ), who vocally opposed a Chick-fil-a Restaurant in his district, will face four opponents: Anne Shaw, Andrew Hamilton, Mia Lena Lopez and Ronda Locke.
Some 16 challengers stepped forward to fill the seat vacated by Ald. Sandi Jackson ( 7th ) who stepped down in 2013 to serve a jail sentence.
Patrick Daley Thompson, a Metropolitan Water District commissioner nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, is among those running to fill the seat left open by Ald. James Balcer ( 11th ). Thompson will run against Maureen Sullivan and John Kozlar.