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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Longtime Ald. Pat O’Connor Is Running For Reelection, Facing Off Against 4 Challengers

The incumbent alderman has served for 35 years on the City Council and had been dodging the question of whether he would retire.

Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) at the 2018 State of Lincoln Square event.
ALEX V. HERNANDEZ/ BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
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LINCOLN SQUARE — Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), who has been evasive about his intent to run for office, filed nominating petition signatures last week and said he intends to run for reelection.

The incumbent alderman, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s floor leader, has served for 35 years on the City Council and has been dodging the question of whether he would retire or not for months. 

On Nov. 19, candidates began filing their nominating petitions with the Chicago Board of Elections to get on the Feb. 26 city ballot.

Other candidates vying for the 40th Ward seat include Dianne Daleiden, Maggie O’Keefe, Ugo Okere and Andre Vasquez.

During a contentious 40th ward candidate forum in October, moderator Rick Perlstein asked O’Connor, 64, to answer yes or no regarding his intent to run for reelection.

“Am I here?” O’Connor responded with a shrug.

Pressed for clarification by Block Club and Daily Line reporters, O’Connor eventually said he attended the October forum because while he had not decided whether to run for another term, he wanted to keep his options open by attending.

RELATED: Ald. O’Connor Accused Again Of Racism Following 40th Ward Forum: ‘Out Of Touch And Cruel,’ Candidate Says

A spokesperson for O’Connor confirmed to Block Club on Monday that he is running for reelection.

Despite not definitively answering questions about his intent to run in the until this week, O’Connor has continued to raise money for his for his Citizens for Patrick O’Connor candidate committee.

The three largest donors to O’Connor’s campaign to date are a $57,100 from the International Union Of Operating Engineers Local 150, $52,500 from the Chicago Land Opertators Joint Labor-Management PAC, and $33,350 from Chicago Assoc. Of Realtors Inc. O’Connor’s campaign fund is now at $171,519.96, according to Illinois State Board of Election records. 

Vasquez said it was “humbling” to be able to submit signatures collected by the hundreds of volunteers in the 40th Ward supporting his candidacy. He was also happy to see so many new candidates file petitions as part of a progressive “Brand New Council” slate attempting to win seats on the City Council next February.

Vasquez is endorsed by Reclaim Chicago, a group inspired by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to work on behalf of candidates who put the “needs of people and the health of our planet before corporate profits.” He is also endorsed by State Senator Daniel Biss. 

“Considering I’ve never had an elected official that looks like me or has a story like mine, it’s inspiring to know that I can be that for someone else,” Vasquez said.

Daleiden said she knows the ward is ready for change.

“I’m a CPS teacher and the only union member running. With that perceptive, I think I would represent the ward very well at City Council,” she said. 

Daleiden has been endorsed by Northside Democracy for America, which aims to elect socially progressive candidates, by the Illinois Berniecrats, which supports candidates who support Sanders’ platforms, by new Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and former Ald. Dick Simpson. 

O’Keefe told Block Club she was grateful for the team of volunteers powering her “women-led grassroots campaign.” 

“Their energy helped us gather signatures from each and every precinct in the 40th Ward,” O’Keefe said. “We will continue to knock thousands of more doors leading up to Feb. 26.” 

Okere said 40th Ward residents are ready for a new alderman “who will actually work for them and fight for a bold, progressive agenda.”

“It’s time we move on from the same old out-of-touch machine politics,” he said. 

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