Ward 39 election to replace Alderman Laurino picks up speed
Three Democrats and one conservative independent candidate are vying to fill the Ward 39 seat that Alderman Margaret Laurino plans to retire from after 24 years.
They are Jeff LaPorte, an independent; Robert Murphy, 39th Ward Democratic committeeman; Samantha Nugent, a Democratic political newcomer; and Casey Smagala, another Democrat in her first run for office.
Here is a closer look at each of the four candidates:
Jeff LaPorte, a Chicago police officer for more than 25 years, is an independent with conservative leanings. He is fiscally conservative and advocating for a hard property tax cap and spending reductions. So far, LaPorte is the only candidate to do so.
It is expected that LaPorte might capture 30 to 40 percent of the votes as Republicans and other right-of-center voters back him. He is the only non-Democrat running in the race and is expected to have the support of the 39th Ward Republican committeeman and his organization.
Over the past year, he has built up a strong network of volunteers and anticipates a solid financial backing that will help him get his message out to voters.
Robert Murphy is a Democrat and the 39th Ward Democratic committeeman. He is an architect and community organizer who acknowledges that as a child his family was on government assistance. He notes in his campaign literature his efforts as an "avid gardener and composter." Other issues important to Murphy are open borders, gay rights and abortion rights.
Samantha Nugent, an attorney and Democrat, is a newcomer to political campaigns. But she already is considered a well-connected Democratic insider with ties to City Hall, Mayor Rahm Emanual and Democratic donors, according to political analyst Russ Stewart. She is the former director of Executive Engagement for the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
Casey Smagala, Democrat, will be up against Nugent and Murphy for Democratic votes, which could give LaPorte an advantage. Smagala's only political experience was in college politics at North Park University. He is now a fundraiser for the Albany Park Community Center.
Stewart has made an early prediction for the consolidated primary. He foresees LaPorte earning 30 percent, Murphy with 28, Nugent with 26 and Smagala with 16.