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E-Day has arrived in the 49th Ward

Submitted on Tue, 04/17/2007 – 03:07.
Story by Anna Marevska

Editor’s note: It appears that Mr. Moore is the winner

As voters headed to the polls for the April 17 runoff, Ald. Joe Moore and challenger Don Gordon continued to disagree on several issues being debated in the Far Northside 49th Ward they hoped to represent the next four years.

Some residents say Moore, who’s been in office since 1991, is interested in anything but what is going on his ward. Others say they’re happy the alderman sponsored the foie gras ban and has led efforts, unsuccessful so far, to increase the wages of retail workers who work at Chicago’s big box stores.

“I want to see day-to-day needs of the community met, like garbage pick-up, for example,” said Michael Brooks, a Rogers Park resident for five years. “Many people are not happy with Joe Moore, and that’s why he is facing the runoff. He is more global than community.”

Brooks’ wife, Susan Grace, agrees: “I have called the alderman’s office so many times to ask for a clean-up under the Metra. Nobody responded, ever.”

The alderman, who won the most votes – 49 percent – in the Feb. 27th election, concedes that sometimes phone calls “fall through the cracks.” But Moore said he’s proud to have led the Chicago City Council in prohibiting restaurants from serving goose liver because of the artificial way the birds are fattened. And he vows to continue pushing the big-box ordinance, which would require large retail establishments like Wal-Mart to pay their employees at least $10 and hour and benefits equivalent to at least $3 an hour.

Gordon, the second-highest voter getter in February with 29 percent, expects to win today. Voters, he said, want an alderman who “has ideas of how to change this community.”

“The reason we got him [Moore] to a runoff is because he is not a good leader,” Gordon said. “I have met and talked personally with over 1,000 people in the community since the election started. We are all tired of his leadership and lack of ability to get things done.”

Gordon said that if he wins, he will focus immediately on three key issues in the 49th Ward: crime and safety, development of retail stores and affordable housing.

He pledges to offer “good customer service” in the ward office, extend week-day hours until 9 p.m. and add weekend hours.

“I will re-vitalize the CAPS and establish a better relationship with the 24th Police Department District. Crime is at the top of my agenda,” said the 57-year-old Gordon, a former bank technology manager.

Moore, 48, said he will “continue to focus on public safety and new business developments” in the ward, which includes the Rogers Park, Edgewater and West Ridge neighborhoods.

Sixteen years ago, when Moore won his first term in a close runoff, crime was on the rise, schools were overcrowded and commercial centers were struggling, said Anne Sullivan, a campaign organizer for the alderman. Moore focused on three things: community policing, housing and economic development.

“I am very proud to oversee a significant decrease of crime in our neighborhood,” the alderman said. “I will continue to work closely with Chicago’s 24th Police District.”

Perhaps the most obvious differences between the two candidates are their stances on the foie gras ban and the big-box proposal. Gordon opposes both ordinances, as does Mayor Daley, and says if passed, the big-box ordinance “will deter those in need.” Some businessmen in the community agree.

“Wal-Mart is a big company that makes millions of dollars per month,” said Akhram Nomah, who has owned Windy City Furniture at 7010 N. Clark St. for 18 years. “They don’t need to be everywhere. We are small businesses; we barely make $1,000 a month. Where are we going to go?”

The big-box ordinance would not affect Nomah’s business; the proposal covers only stores that occupy at least 90,000 square feet and are part of a company that grosses more than $1 billion annually.

Labor unions have poured money and manpower into the alderman’s campaign, and The Chicago Sun-Times and the third-highest vote getter (13 perdent) in the February election – Jim Ginderske – have endorsed his candidacy. Gordon has the backing of David Herro, a mutual fund manager for Harris Associates, who has contributed $60,000 to the challenger’s campaign. And he’s been endorsed by The Chicago Tribune and Chris Adams, who came in fourth February 27th with 9 percent of the vote.

An avid cyclist and a runner, Gordon wears sneakers to campaign events and hands out bananas and Hershey’s kisses to residents. The challenger even sparked controversy for giving away bananas, with some residents accusing Gordon of racism. The Chicago Reader’s Mick Dumke wrote about the issue and others dividing the candidates. Gordon has denied there was a racial issue with his giveaways.

While acknowledging Gordon’s involvement in Rogers Park Conservancy and many lakefront and park organizations, Moore said his opponent “is more talk than action.”

“That’s why I had 49 percent of the votes,” the alderman said. “And that is why I am confident I will win on Tuesday.”

Local Politics Public
49th ward aldermen don gordon joe moore roger park

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