Byline: Summer Diab and Brianna Thomas
Terrell Smith, an election worker at a polling place in the Gold Coast, called Tuesday for more city spending in poorer neighborhoods, a raise in property taxes and more jobs.
Smith said he opposes Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is seeking his second four-year term. Emanuel has to win 50 percent of the vote plus 1 to avoid a run-off election in April.
“[Emanuel] really doesn’t support poor people,” Smith said.
Smith was working in a polling place at the Moody Church on Clark Street in the Gold Coast on Chicago’s near North Side.
Emanuel is running against Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, 2nd Ward Ald. Robert Fioretti, community activist William “Dock” Walls and businessman Willie Wilson. Candidates are also running in all 50 aldermanic races.
Jennifer Henderson, 40, who lives in the Gold Coast, said she was excited about the citywide election. “It seems to be a turning point, so [I am] excited to see who gets elected and what changes they can bring.”
Emanuel closed 50 public schools in 2013, and he is in favor of charter schools, but Henderson said the changes have not affected her.
Rosiland Baldwin, 65, an election judge from the North Side, said voting was slow due to the bitter cold on Tuesday. Voters came to the polls early in the morning, according to news reports.
Tuesday’s high was forecast to be 30 degrees with gusts as high as 35 mph, which could have been kept a lot of people away from the polls.
Zachary Marcucci, 19, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago from Pilsen, said if he did live in the Gold Coast, he would support more bike lanes there. The lanes would be a good addition because biking helps the environment and is “easy transportation,” he said.
“I’m hoping for some new bike lanes and other things that were promised or spoken of,” Marcucci said.
Around 9:45 a.m., Baldwin said only 25 voters had come to her station in the polling place.
Barry Kroll, 80, from the Gold Coast, said he is not excited for the election, but has been voting for 60 years and sees it as his “civic duty.”
“I’d like the [city council] to ungerrymander the 2nd ward, I would have liked them to do something about the parking meters, but I think that is a dead issue, and I would like them to balance the budget,” he added.
A new ward map was released in 2012, and many criticized the reconfiguration of Ward 2, which encompasses parts of Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, Bucktown and the Kennedy Expressway.
Regarding the parking issue, Kroll was referring to the decision by the administration of Richard M. Daley in 2008 to contract with a private company to handle parking meters on city streets. The arrangement led to a spike in parking fees and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars for the city.
He said Emanuel is unpopular with voters only because people do not understand the bigger issues.
“The bigger issues are consistency, solvency and responsibility,” Kroll said.