WICKER PARK — Political newcomer Daniel La Spata declared victory in the race for 1st Ward alderman, unseating incumbent Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno.
With 89 percent of precincts reporting, challenger La Spata took 60.5 percent of the vote to Moreno’s 39.5 percent, according to Chicago Board of Election results.
Celebrating at The Radler, La Spata supporters sang “Happy Birthday” to him as he turns 38 years old today.
To huge applause, La Spata told supporters “the Chicago machine” is “crumbling against a progressive wave that is sweeping.”
“I think about how many times I came to peoples’ doors and talked about the follies of the 1st Ward — the fact that we trade zoning changes for campaign contributions, the fact that gentrification can be seen as something organic and natural, just as something that happens. That’s not right. The way that our schools are left to rot and are ignored. That’s not right,” La Spata said. “People would say … politicians only come up four years, and then you don’t see them for another four years. And that’s not right.”
He continued, “When we come together, when we break bread together, when we find our common interests, we can build the ward and the city we all deserve to live in.”
Moreno, who was first appointed to the seat in 2010, narrowly avoided a runoff against three challengers in 2015.
Controversy was a thorn in Moreno’s side this election season as the alderman weathered one scandal after another:
- In early February, news broke that Chicago police were investigating whether Moreno filed a false police report in which he claimed a woman stole his Audi. The woman, a single mother, told WGN Moreno had agreed to let her borrow the car after the two went on a date. The alderman chalked the report up to a misunderstanding.
- On Feb. 8, State Rep. Will Guzzardi, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Assessor Fritz Kaegi — three of the area’s most successful progressive politicians — condemned Moreno’s campaign staff for including their photographs on mailers without the politicians’ permission. Moreno did not respond to a request for comment.
- Last week, a former aide accused Moreno of sexual harassment when she told WBEZ the alderman orchestrated a pay raise “contest” in which staffers were asked to remove their shirts at a bar. Moreno’s staff claimed the 2014 alleged incident never happened.
During the campaign, La Spata — a Logan Square Neighborhood Association community organizer with a master’s degree in urban planning and public policy — pressed Moreno on these scandals in addition to questioning his relationship with developers in the gentrifying ward.
Many of the area’s developers — and zoning lawyers and architectural firms — who sought and later got zoning approval to build in the 1st Ward gave money to Moreno’s campaign, a Feb. 5 Block Club Chicago analysis found.
Moreno raised a total of $653,889 in campaign donations, more than eight times the $74,725 raised by his challenger.
The 1st Ward includes all or parts of Logan Square, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, Humboldt Park and West Town.
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