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50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: 33rd Ward's Manuel LePorte enjoys neighborhood peacefulness, but not the winters

Manuel LePorte is walking south on Spaulding Avenue toward his job at Home Depot. The 24-year-old aspiring graphic designer (with a focus on video games) is taking a break from college to pay down some debt.

"I just want to pay this off, so I can start focusing more on school than work," LePorte says. "I know work is important, but I'm trying to get an education so I don't have to be working at that job my whole life. So I can start my career off."

It's a 15-minute walk from LePorte's home to Home Depot. He loves his neighborhood, the northwest side's Irving Park.

"I like the peacefulness," LePorte says. "No drama. No gang-bangers. The peacefulness. Everybody knows each other."

There is drama in other parts of Chicago, though, and there are also gang-bangers. That's LePorte's only gripe with his city, except for this:

"The main thing I don't like about it: the weather," he says.

Not even the city's new mayor can block those blistering winter winds. But LePorte likes Rahm Emanuel. He voted for him and says if Emanuel keeps doing the things he's doing, the city will be headed in the right direction.

"So far, for him being a year only on the job, I think he's done a great job," LePorte says. "He's doing a good job on the killings part. I know there's still been a lot, but there's not as much as when Daley was our mayor. Even though the bus fares have gone up a bit, but it's for good reasons. I mean he is trying to help the city make money or whatever."

The numbers tell a different story. Murders in 2012 are way up over Richard Daley's final year. (Citywide, they're up 58 percent. LePorte's police district had no murders last year by the end of April. So far this year, there've been four.) And the CTA hasn't raised bus fares under Emanuel. The agency hasn't raised any fares since 2009.

Don't fault LePorte because his statement doesn't exactly get with the facts. Much of politics is about perception. And come election time, gut feelings will always trump statistics.

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