LOGAN SQUARE — A well-known community leader and preservationist who’s shaped a wide range of Logan Square projects in recent years is running for 1st Ward alderperson, the latest challenger to Ald. Daniel La Spata.
Stephen “Andy” Schneider is jumping into the 1st Ward race after a decade-long run as president of Logan Square Preservation, a neighborhood group dedicated to the preservation and beautification of the area.
With the redrawn ward boundaries, the 1st Ward will include part of Logan Square, where Schneider has lived for nearly two decades, along with portions of Humboldt Park, West Town, Noble Square, East Village and Wicker Park.
Schneider said his “proven track record of leadership and ability to build consensus within the community” makes him uniquely qualified for the City Council job.
As leader of Logan Square Preservation, Schneider has had a hand in many of the development and infrastructure projects that have dominated Logan Square news over the past decade, from the traffic circle redesign to the construction of the Lucy Gonzalez Parsons affordable housing complex, according to a news release.
Schneider has also spearheaded other neighborhood efforts in recent years, such as securing city approval to turn Grace United Methodist Church into a community center, rescuing the St. John Berchmans bell and leading a legal fight against the billboard company holding up redevelopment of the Grace’s Furniture building, according to his campaign.
Schneider recently worked with city leaders to open a food truck plaza on Sacramento Avenue.
“I’ve effectively been a full-time volunteer for the last decade,” Schneider told Block Club. “I’ve always wanted to just give to the community, to give to our city, and I think that being an alderman is about being committed to our communities. It’ll allow me to continue to do the work I’ve done at a much higher level.
“I think I’d much more effective; I think I’d get a lot more done than I’ve already gotten done.”
La Spata, a former community organizer elected to the City Council seat in 2019, announced earlier this summer he’s seeking reelection.
Schneider said he supported La Spata when he ran, “hoping he would represent a break from the dictatorial, special interests-style that [his predecessor] Proco [‘Joe’ Moreno] served.” But La Spata hasn’t lived up to expectations, Schneider said.
“While it seemed like that was initially the case, we haven’t seen the commitment to the grassroots, the respect for [local] organizations,” Schneider said. “That’s why we’re running. Because we’re committed to making sure the office is one that lifts up everyone’s voice.”
In addition to La Spata, Schneider will run against Moreno, the 1st Ward leader La Spata ousted. Moreno, who was dogged by a string of legal troubles and controversies as alderperson, recently told the Tribune he plans to run again, though the guilty pleas could exclude him from the race.
Sam Royko, a West Town lawyer and son of late Chicago columnist Mike Royko, has also announced a bid for the 1st Ward.
Schneider is a real estate professional who worked as a news reporter before becoming active in the community with Logan Square Preservation. If elected, Schneider will be a “strong voice for skepticism and also collaboration,” but his priorities will come from 1st Ward residents, he said.
“Nobody knows the 1st Ward better than the people who live and work in it,” he said.
An established figure in Logan Square, Schneider was the target of an email scam earlier this summer: Someone impersonating Schneider announced his candidacy for 35th Ward alderperson and lambasted Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa.
Schneider said the fraudulent email neither convinced nor dissuaded him to run for 1st Ward alderperson, but he was heartened by the positive response he received from neighbors and other community leaders who believed he was running in the 35th Ward, which includes part of Logan Square.
Asked for a response to Schneider’s candidacy, La Spata said in a written statement he’s proud of the work he’s done to “build a more fair, transparent and democratic 1st Ward — ending Alderman Moreno’s corrupt, pay-to-play tactics.”
“In the coming months, I look forward to talking with neighbors to share the work we’ve done so far and to discuss how we can build on it together, working to expand and preserve affordability, modernize our approach to public safety, and increase transparency and accountability,” La Spata said.
But Schneider said collaboration is lacking in 1st Ward governance, and he’s prepared to bring a synergistic approach to the office should he unseat La Spata in the February election.
“The boundaries aren’t quite as strange as they were before, but the ward still unites a very disparate group of people — different neighborhoods, different priorities,” Schneider said. “We have to have good collaborative governance across the entire ward so everyone feels like their voice is being heard, and so we end up with good, equitable and durable outcomes.”
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