ROGERS PARK — Ald. Maria Hadden was reelected to her 49th Ward seat Tuesday after storming to a decisive victory over two challengers.
With all 17 precincts reporting Tuesday night, the incumbent garnered 73 percent of the vote over challengers Belia Rodriguez and Bill Morton, according to unofficial results. The votes secure Hadden’s second term as Rogers Park’s alderperson.
“Elections really push us to a place … where we have to show what we’ve done,” Hadden said in an interview. “It’s confirmation of the work that I’ve been doing.”
Rodriguez got 17 percent of the vote and Morton secured 10 percent.
Hadden ran her first reelection campaign after defeating 28 year-incumbent Joe Moore in 2019. She was among several successful progressive challengers to long-seated City Council members in the last election.
The ward makes up most of Rogers Park and a sliver of West Ridge.
Hadden faced two challengers with backgrounds in business development in a race dominated by discussions of homelessness and public safety, with the challengers saying Hadden hadn’t done enough to address each issue.
A fourth candidate, Willie Davis, was tossed off the ballot after election officials found he did not submit enough valid signatures to qualify.
Rodriguez was serving her second term as board president of the Rogers Park Business Alliance when she resigned to run for Rogers Park alderperson. The race is the first run for public office for Rodriguez, who owns an information technology business.
Morton, the co-founder of the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, marked his second run for Rogers Park alderperson after also running in 2019 but failing to make the ballot. He also sought the 49th Ward Democratic committeeperson seat in 2020 but lost to state Rep. Kelly Cassidy.
Morton made bigger waves in his second race, using the former Leona’s restaurant on Sheridan Road as his campaign headquarters and securing the political and financial support of businessman and mayoral hopeful Willie Wilson.
The longtime president of the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, Morton temporarily stepped down from the post during his campaign. The chamber and his campaign both used the Leona’s as an office, and some voters raised questions about the chamber’s efforts to boost Morton’s campaign.
The campaign has also come under fire from the city for hosting events with live entertainment and BYOB service, with the city issuing a cease-and-desist order against the facility for hosting such events. Morton said the campaign offices can host events again, as long as it is explicit they are fundraisers for his election effort.
Hadden said she would use a second term to further affordable housing in the neighborhood, including a 110-unit affordable proposal for Howard Street, and restoring the city’s department of environment.
The 49th Ward race was marked by plenty of hostile online debate and contentious politics.
Rodriguez was the subject of complaint filed with the state board of elections by an attorney supporting Hadden. The complaint said Rodriguez failed to form a campaign committee in a timely fashion after receiving in-kind contributions from a newly created political action committee called People For Rogers Park.
The complaint also alleged that Rodriguez produced campaign materials that failed to include the required “paid for by” language. A hearing officer of the Illinois State Board of Elections sustained the improper campaign materials complaint and the failure to form a political committee in a timely fashion after receiving the contribution, state election board documents show.
Hadden was also the subject of an ethics complaint filed by a supporter of Rodriguez’s. The complaint alleged improper campaign contributions to Hadden from a local business seeking the lifting of a liquor moratorium from the city. The People For Rogers Park also disseminated fliers related to the ethics complaint.
Hadden called the fliers “dirty” and the ethics complaint “frivolous” and “politically motivated.” The Chicago Board of Ethics handles such complaints behind close doors and only makes public mention of the case if its sustained and a penalty enforced. No such action has been taken.
The election also featured the serving of fake eviction notices was to residents of a tent encampment at Touhy Park. The eviction notices claimed to be from Hadden’s office and listed Morton as the server of the notices.
Hadden said the notices did not come from her office and Morton denied involvement in the notices. A college student who received Morton’s counsel for a potential mayoral run took responsibility for the eviction notes.
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