The after Chicago’s day municipal elections, headlines focused on the runoff between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, but an interesting subplot was how few voters turned out to the polls and even fewer knew anything about the aldermanic candidates.
“I don’t know who the Alderman is in Wicker Park, because I’m not from here,” Said Norman Marston, a 25-year-old associate at Shuga Records in Wicker Park, which is located in the 32nd Ward.
Asked about the alderman in Avondale where he lives, Marston didn’t fare any better.
“I don’t even know who my alderman is,” Marston said.
The city’s 19 aldermanic races saw no candidate reach the 50 percent plus 1 votes threshold necessary to avoid a runoff. With so many races getting an extra six weeks, it may give resident some extra time and motivation to get acquainted with the candidates.
Adam Rosen, the owner of Shuga Records, said a lack of publicity was part of the reason voter turnout was so low.
“That’s why so many older business owners and younger residents didn’t vote,” Rosen said.
Rosen said he did vote in the election, but wouldn’t say who he voted for.
Marston said he didn’t vote because he didn’t even know the polls were open on Tuesday.
The lack of knowledge and publicity of the election may have helped 32nd Ward alderman Scott Waguespack, who garnered more than 6,200 of the 7,900 votes cast, or over 79 percent, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
Waguespack had the second highest margin of victory in the city, behind Ameya Pawar, of the 47th Ward.
Chicago resident Charad Perkins-Hanley attributed to voter turnout to simple forgetfulness.
“I think that the reason some people didn’t vote is because they were busy and it slipped their minds,” he said.
Perkins-Hanley, who did not know the name of his alderman, said he knew about the elections but still didn’t vote.
“I just didn’t want to,” Perkins-Hanley said.