- Kamil Krzaczynski/AP Photos
- No one is running against Harry Osterman in the 48th Ward.
With Thanksgiving coming up, let’s give thanks for the good things in life—like the February 24 aldermanic elections.
Just three months away!
I know many of you might not appreciate this exercise in democracy, but think of it this way—it gives you a chance to undo the damage you did in the last go around.
Except for voters in the 13th, 14th, 42nd, and 48th wards. You don’t get to vote . . .
Well, technically you do get to vote. You just don’t get a choice in who you vote for, as the filing deadline passed on Monday, and no one filed to run against your incumbents.
So it’s sort of like one of those elections they used to have back in the USSR, where the people got to vote, but only if they voted for General Secretary Brezhnev.
Not that I’m comparing any alderman to General Secretary Brezhnev.
The reasons no one’s running vary from ward to ward. The 13th and 14th are under the iron grip of house speaker Michael Madigan and alderman Ed Burke, so presumably all the potential challengers have either been bought off or frightened away.
The 42nd Ward is represented by alderman Brendan Reilly, who’s best known for having taken a bold stance on behalf of his constituents against Mayor Daley’s idiotic idea to stick the Children’s Museum in Grant Park back in 2008.
Alderman Reilly didn’t have a challenger in the last election either, so presumably people in the 42nd are so grateful they’ve bequeathed him the office for life.
I’m not sure why no one’s running against alderman Harry Osterman in the 48th—a north-lakefront ward that used to have a reputation for feisty independent politics.
For whatever reason, the 48th’s replaced the 40th as the most pathetic ward on the north side, electorally speaking. At least, the 40th found a candidate willing to run against alderman Patrick O’Connor, the mayor’s floor leader who hasn’t had a challenger in years.
Good luck, Dianne Daleiden.
For the record, I appreciate Alderman Osterman from his days as a state representative, when he taught me an invaluable lesson about election law in Chicago.
This goes back to 2002, when he was challenged by Jason Farbman, a 24-year-old waiter who was running as a Green Party candidate. Osterman brought in the legendary Michael Kasper—one of the most influential election lawyers in the land—to knock Farbman from the ballot for one technicality or another.
Even though Farbman had zero chance of actually beating Osterman in the election.
To everyone’s amazement, Farbman struck back. He found a mistake in the mighty Kasper’s challenge and petitioned the board of elections to dismiss the challenge.
Kasper argued that the mistake was a meaningless typographical error.
Thus illuminating an important distinction in election law that probably isn’t being taught in law school. And that is . . .
When a powerless third-party candidate makes a mistake, it’s an egregious assault at the very heart of our democracy.
But when a party animal screws up, it’s like—dang, dude, chill out.
Farbman stayed on the ballot, but Osterman won the election. He’s since advanced to the City Council, where he’s emerged as one of Mayor Rahm’s most reliable “yes” votes.
In contrast to the 48th, voters in the Seventh Ward—on the south side—currently have 16 aldermanic candidates.
I think there’s something inherently unfair about one ward having no challengers and another having so many.
So I propose that the Seventh send some of its candidates to run in the 48th. That way Edgewater’s voters won’t feel left out.
I know there’s a good chance my proposal violates one election law or another. But we’d undoubtedly get away with it, if we can only get Kasper’s permission.
Enjoy your turkeys, Chicago!