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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Candidates Who Aim To Replace Laurino As 39th Ward Alderman Face Questions From NW Siders Thursday

A member of the Laurino family has served as alderman of the ward for more than 50 years.

Left to right, top to bottom: Candidates Samantha “Sam” Nugent, Casey Smagala, Joe Duplechin and Robert Murphy are running for 39th Ward alderman.
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IRVING PARK — The four candidates vying for outgoing Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) seat square off in a forum Thursday in Irving Park. 

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn will moderate the candidate forum from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave.

Laurino, 66, announced in August she wasn’t going to seek reelection after 24 years in office. 

The four candidates running for the open 39th Ward seat are:

Robert Murphy, the 39th Ward’s current Democratic committeeman with a background as an architect and community organizer.

Samantha “Sam” Nugent, an attorney who was the director of executive engagement for the American Board of Medical Specialties who also served as a former chief of staff for the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.  

Casey Smagala, the director of individual giving and community engagement for the Albany Park Community Center.

Joe Duplechin, a Chicago Police officer since 2012. He was previously an engineer with the U.S. Army and did a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

A fifth candidate, Jeffery S. La Porte, withdrew his candidacy on Dec. 14. La Porte is also a Chicago Police officer. He previously ran for and lost the March Democratic primary for state representative.

The forum is being co-organized by the Old Irving Park Association, Forest Glen Community Club, Hollywood-North Park Community Association, Mayfair Civic Association, North Mayfair Improvement Association, Peterson Park Improvement Association, Sauganash Community Association, Sauganash Park Community Association and West Walker Civic Association.

The event will be livestreamed on the Hollywood-North Park Community Association Facebook page, said Lynn Ankney, president of the Old Irving Park Association. Other partnering sponsors will also share the video online.

Residents were asked to submit questions for the candidates and Ankney said nearly 100 questions were reviewed by the forum’s organizers for the event.

Each candidate will have a two-minute opening statement followed by six or seven “round robin” questions that candidates will have 90 seconds to answer. Next, candidates will take part in a “lightning round” of six to eight questions, depending on how much time is left, which will be followed by each candidate making a two-minute closing statement.

A member of the Laurino family has served as alderman of the ward for more than 50 years. Her father, Anthony, was the ward’s alderman for nearly three decades before retiring in 1994. Margaret Laurino was appointed by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley to replace her father, who was later indicted in a ghost payroll scandal.

Credit: Patty Wetli/DNAinfo
Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) is not running for re-election.

In an email to constituents in August, Laurino said that she reviewed her professional commitments, personal life changes — including her husband’s retirement and her grandchildren — before deciding not to run again.

I have decided that it is time to scale back my schedule,” she said at the time. 

The 39th Ward includes all or part of the Mayfair, Forest Glen, Sauganash, North Park, Albany Park and Irving Park neighborhoods.

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