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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

Ald. Jim Gardiner Wins Reelection In Far Northwest Side’s 45th Ward

The race has been one of the most-watched aldermanic elections in the city after Megan Mathias narrowly pushed Gardiner into a runoff.

Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) looks on during discussions surrounding the creation of a civilian commission overseeing the Chicago Police Department during a City Council meeting on July 21, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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JEFFERSON PARK — Ald. Jim Gardiner held onto his council seat after defeating challenger Megan Mathias in the 45th Ward election runoff Tuesday.

With all 29 precincts reporting Tuesday night, Gardiner held 55.22 percent of the vote to Mathias’ 44.78 percent.

The crowd at Gardiner’s election party at Vaughan’s Pub & Grill, 5485 N. Northwest Highway, erupted into cheers and applause as the news broke that Gardiner had won.

Gardiner thanked his supporters and volunteers

“This is still a grassroots operation. It has been since 2019,” he said. “This is not about proving our detractors wrong; it’s about proving our supporters right.”

Gardiner came close to avoiding a runoff altogether, securing 48 percent of the vote on Feb. 28 to Mathias’ 16 percent. The two beat out four other challengers.

The ward covers parts of Old Irving Park, Portage Park, Jefferson Park, Gladstone Park, parts of Edgebrook, Wildwood and small parts of Norwood Park.

In the February election, Gardiner received more votes from Jefferson Park, Gladstone Park, parts of Portage Park and Wildood sections of the ward, while Mathias received support from the Old Irving Park, Edgebrook and some Portage Park precincts, according to election results.

Originally from Michigan, Mathias has lived in Chicago since 2000 and in the 45th Ward since 2014. The single mother of three has a law firm in Old Irving Park, Lopp Mathias Law.

Mathias’ home was drawn out of the ward in last year’s remap, but she planned to move into the new territory if she won, she said.

Gardiner was first elected in 2019, beating incumbent Ald. John Arena after a contentious election. Before then, Gardiner worked as an EMT with the Fire Department.

But Gardiner’s first term as alderperson has been rife with controversy. He’s faced an FBI probemultiple lawsuits and allegations he withheld ward services from critics and used foul language to describe women.

Gardiner’s also been criticized by challengers who said he tried to intimidate their volunteers and workers.

Late last year, video surfaced of the alderman confronting a challenger’s campaign volunteers as they gathered signatures from Norwood Park residents.

But Gardiner has said he’s brought more businesses and development to the ward, as his term has seen the overhaul of the former Sears at Six Corners and the impending opening of a senior housing complex. He received support from police and firefighter unions — key endorsements in the 45th Ward, where many city workers live.

He received over $221,000 in campaign donations and spent money on mailers, door-hangers and digital marketing. Mathias received over $126,000 and focused more of her campaign strategy on digital marketing and ads.

“The 45th Ward is thriving due to the collaborative efforts of community stakeholders in the last three years,” Gardiner said in a statement over the winter. “In fact, we are witnessing $475 million of new developments $14 million of infrastructure improvements while creating hundreds of union and permanent jobs.”

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