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Copernicus Center To Host 45th Ward Candidate Forum With Arena And 3 Challengers Tuesday Night

Marilyn Morales, Ald. John Arena (45th), James “Jim” Gardiner and Robert “Bob” Bank are all expected to attend the forum.

Left to right, Top to Bottom: Ald. John Arena (45th), Marilyn Morales, Robert "Bob" Banks and James "Jim" Gardiner.
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JEFFERSON PARK — The Copernicus Center will host a 45th Ward candidate forum Tuesday night, with all four people running for alderman expected to attend.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. The event is free and open to the public and will be moderated by Justin Kaufmann, co-host of WGN Radio’s “The Steve Cochran Show.”

The four 45th Ward candidates on the Feb. 26 ballot are:

Marilyn Morales, an operations manager with the Chicago Park District. She has a masters in Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago and previously ran for City Clerk in 2011, but was unable to secure enough petitions to be on the ballot.

Ald. John Arena (45th), was first elected in 2011 and is a founding member of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus. He’s a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Before assuming office, he owned a graphic design firm.

James “Jim” Gardiner, a firefighter EMT with an education degree from Saint Xavier University. Before joining the fire department, Gardiner was an ironworker with Local 399 Stationary and a special education teacher at Curie High School.

Robert “Bob” Bank, an AT&T employee and former president of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.

Anna Zolkowski Sobor of the Old Irving Park Association, one of the event’s organizers, said all four candidates are expected to attend the forum.

The forum is being co-organized by the Copernicus Foundation, Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce, Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association, Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce, Jefferson Park Forward, Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, Nadig Newspapers, Old Irving Park Association, Portage Park Neighborhood Association, Six Corners Association and Six Corners Chamber of Commerce.

The forum’s organizers determined what categories the questions for the candidates would focus on and then passed them along to the Kaufmann to review ahead of the forum, Sobor said.

“Justin is completely independent, he doesn’t live in the ward and is a professional journalist,” Sobor said. “We’re turning over all our suggested topics and questions to him and he’s going to take it for there.”

The forum will begin with two-minute opening statements by each candidate. That will be followed by a series of questions asked by the moderator that each candidate will have two minutes to answer. Next, a “lightning round” of yes or no questions will be presented to the candidates. The forum will then end with each candidate being given three minutes for closing statements.

Sobor said the event isn’t expected to be rescheduled because of weather. The latest information regarding the forum can be found here.

The Copernicus Center parking lot will have free parking along with the former Northwest College parking lot at 4830 N. Lipps Ave. from 6-10 p.m. Cars can enter that lot via on Ainslie.

The 45th Ward includes includes all or part of the Irving Park, Old Irving Park, Portage Park, Jefferson Park and Gladstone Park neighborhoods.

RELATED: Candidate In 45th Ward Had Order Of Protection Issued Against Him Last Year By Ex-Girlfriend

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