BEVERLY — In a mayoral race this wide open, no Chicagoan can guarantee they have the next mayor’s campaign sign on their lawn.
No one except the owners of this Beverly bungalow.
Reba Cafarelli and her husband have flipped a campaign-season tradition on its head. Instead of displaying the sign of their chosen candidate in their front yard as a show of support, they’ve posted all of the signs.
Well, almost all of the signs. With 13 on display, they’re only missing one: an elusive sign repping Neal Sales-Griffin.
The couple’s yard sign art installation — which made its debut Sunday — started as a joke.
“And it’s still a joke. Because most of them suck,” said Cafarelli’s husband, who asked not to be named because of his line of work.
First came the Bill Daley sign. Cafarelli’s father-in-law put it up in their yard without asking.
Then they acquired a Susana Mendoza sign and a Jerry Joyce sign. As the signs started to pile up, the couple made it their mission to find all 14 candidates’ signs.
The rest? They “borrowed” from sites across the city. It’s become a treasure hunt of sorts.
“They were always on public property,” Cafarelli said with a laugh.
The hardest to get? Their sign repping John Kozlar. Her husband made a special trip to Bridgeport, Kozlar’s home base, to snag one near the Deering District Police Station at 32nd and Halsted.
“He said he wouldn’t, but he did anyway,” their 8-year-old daughter Maggie quipped.
Garry McCarthy’s sign was also hard to land. They finally found one at 118th and Avenue O in East Side on the city’s Southeast Side.
And elusive Neal Sales-Griffin?
They don’t put out [yard] signs,” the husband said.
“Don’t worry, he asked,” Cafarelli said.
He stopped by Sales-Griffin’s campaign headquarters Sunday and they were fresh out of window signs — effectively a yard sign with no stake. If he gets one, he plans to affix it to the front of a sign supporting incumbent 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea.
Turns out Sales-Griffin’s not a fan of yard signs.
In Beverly, you’ll see more “Joyce for Mayor” signs than any others — he’s a Beverly native who still lives in the neighborhood, after all. Lori Lightfoot, Toni Preckwinkle, Paul Vallas and Amara Enyia signs also dot the Southwest Side neighborhood. You’ll see a smattering of Daley signs, too.
Wonder who the creative couple voted for? It’s not homegrown candidate Joyce. Or the “frontrunners” the media have championed, Preckwinkle and Daley.
Cafarelli’s husband cast an early ballot for Vallas “without any fanfare.”
“When you get rid of the people who are useless, you’re down to like five,” he said. He actually narrowed it down from a crowd of six — Vallas, Lightfoot, Sales-Griffin, Gery Chico, Willie Wilson and Bob Fioretti, his old alderman when he lived in the South Loop.
“I’m definitely not excited about Paul. Or anybody really. But I guess he sort of had a plan about pensions. Maybe,” he said.
On Monday night, Cafarelli, like a lot of Chicagoans, was still deciding who would earn her vote.
“I’m down to Lori Lightfoot and — cover your ears,” she says to her husband. “Mendoza.”
As an arts administrator who works with University of Chicago’s Department of Music and Shattered Globe Theatre, she’s looking for a candidate who is a strong supporter of the arts and will invest in neighborhood schools. A mother of three, her own kids attend Kellogg Elementary, a CPS neighborhood school, and Keller Regional Gifted School, a CPS selective-enrollment school.
“I feel like Susana Mendoza could get the job done,” she said. And a lot of her friends are voting for Lightfoot, who’s not part of the “corrupt machine.”
While they discuss her choice, Cafarelli’s phone lights up across the room. Hours before the polls open, candidates are still competing for her vote.
“Are those all campaign texts?” she asks her husband.
“Yes, Paul Vallas,” he said.
How will Cafarelli ultimately decide who to vote for Tuesday?
“I’m going to look at the signs [in my front yard] and meditate,” she joked.
In actuality, she’ll be up late researching both candidates and their stances on the issues.
There’s a lot of choices — an “overwhelming” number of choices, Cafarelli said.
And with so many candidates in the race — allowing for a number of potential runoff scenarios — the stakes are high.
“I’ve heard, ‘Don’t underestimate the 19th Ward’ because a lot of people really show up” to vote, Cafarelli said. “So I feel like Jerry Joyce could…”
Her husband laughs.
“Maybe not,” she conceded. “We’ll see. It will be very interesting.”
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