Paul Vallas’s backing from Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police lodge may have helped push him into the city’s mayoral runoff, but the union had limited success in City Council races — despite endorsing 26 candidates and spending more than $300,000 for them, according to a WBEZ tally of Illinois campaign filings.
Lodge 7, which represents the city’s 10,000 rank-and-file cops, backed eight candidates who won contested races Tuesday, but they were all incumbents with advantages including name recognition. Three other FOP-backed candidates made it into runoffs. But, despite support from the union, 14 other alder hopefuls fizzled.
The disappointments included veteran Police Officer Barbara Bunville, who received $22,150 in FOP support but won just 8% in the wide-open 6th Ward race. A runoff in that South Side ward will pit Rev. William Hall of St. James Community Church against retired Police Officer Richard Wooten, who did not seek FOP backing despite working 16 years as a Chicago cop.
“I’d be willing to work with the FOP if they were focusing on rebuilding relationships between police and community,” said Wooten, who retired from CPD in 2015. “We have to build bridges to resolve crime in the community.”
Lodge President John Catanzara Jr., who is fighting for his own reelection in member balloting that ends Friday, declined to comment on the union’s performance in the City Council contests.
Another blow to the FOP came in the 19th Ward, where former Sgt. Michael Cummings ran with at least $10,460 in lodge support. The union hoped the legions of cops who live in that South Side ward would show up to help unseat Ald. Matt O’Shea. But O’Shea, whom the union had backed in the past, won 63.1% of the vote in a three-way race.
In another setback for the FOP, incumbent Jim Gardiner, 45th Ward, won 48.9% — short of the 50%-plus total needed to avert a runoff — after receiving at least $9,930 from the union.
Three FOP-backed candidates in three-way races came close to forcing incumbents into runoffs but failed. In the 20th Ward, retired cop Jennifer Maddox won 26.4% but Ald. Jeanette Taylor captured 52.9%. In the 33rd, Samie Martinez received at least $6,760 in FOP support but his 35.5% of the vote was not enough to derail Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, who won 53.1%. In the 26th, Julian Perez reaped at least $15,620 in FOP help and won 33.3% of the vote, but Jessica Fuentes won 54.4%
The FOP fared better in the 11th Ward, centered in Bridgeport, a neighborhood where police families have congregated for generations. The union gave at least $18,655 in support to Police Officer Tony Ciaravino, who finished neck and neck with Ald. Nicole Lee in a seven-way race. The two will face off in the second round.
The other FOP-supported candidate advancing to a runoff is Police Officer Peter Chico, who will face Ana Guajardo in the 10th Ward on the Southeast Side.
The FOP-backed incumbents who sailed to victory include Anthony Beale, 9th Ward; Marty Quinn, 13th; Raymond Lopez, 15th; Derrick Curtis, 18th; Silvana Tabares, 23rd; Nicholas Sposato, 38th; Samantha Nugent, 39th; and Anthony Napolitano, 41st.
The FOP also backed Bennett Lawson, who won an uncontested race in the 44th. Lawson is the chief of staff of Ald. Tom Tunney, who is leaving the council.
Since last March, the Chicago lodge has spent at least $302,045 to propel City Council candidates, the WBEZ review of state Board of Election filings found.
More than two-thirds of that sum — $209,765, according to the review — went to incumbents. The $92,280 the FOP spent for other candidates, whether competing for an open seat or trying to unseat someone, proved meager in most of those wards.
In 2019, the City Council candidates who prevailed in contested wards tended to spend more than $250,000 from the election season’s start through the runoff phase, according to Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois at Chicago political scientist and former alderman.