Alderperson Forum

43rd Ward hopefuls gather in Parker’s Harris Center


Photo credit: Audrey Fuder

43rd Ward Democratic Committeeman Lucy Moog addresses constituents in the Harris Center.

On Wednesday night, in the Harris Center, where Upper School Student Government candidates will debate in May, an alderperson candidate forum was held for Chicago’s 43rd Ward. The forum welcomed all six candidates for the 43rd Ward alderperson election which takes place on Tuesday, February 28.

Timmy Knudsen is the current alderperson and he is campaigning to keep the position this year. He was appointed by Lori Lightfoot in September 2022 after alderperson Michelle Smith retired. The other candidates are 43rd ward native and president of the Sheffield Neighbors Association Brian Comer, lawyer and civil servant Rebecca Janowitz, former legislative Assistant to Congressman Tony Cardenas Steve Botsford, Executive Vice President and Partner of Hawthorne strategy group and community leader Wendi Taylor Nations, and LaSalle Local School Council (LSC) vice chair and after school program facilitator Steven McClellan.

One at a time, each candidate was welcomed into the Harris Center for about 12 minutes. They were then given several questions to answer in one to two minutes and then a round of speed questions for short answers. Moderators asked about budgeting, public safety, schools, housing and climate change.

Candidates gave different perspectives on how to deal with public safety in the ward and throughout Chicago. All candidates spoke about increasing the presence of beat cops and reinforcing the law enforcement staff.

The moderators also prompted candidates to speak about their connections to local schools. Most candidates had been in a local school in the past month or so: McClellan and Comer have met with school leaders at their elementary alma maters LaSalle Language Academy and Oscar Meyer respectively, Knudsen has recently visited students at Lincoln Park High School and Parker, Janowitz had dropped off her child at a CPS school that morning.

All candidates were given the chance to state their priorities with the budget. Knudsen, Bottsford, Comer, and Taylor Nations prioritized public safety and the police department. Janowitz spoke about putting money toward welcoming and supporting women who need to come to Lincoln Park to get abortions. McClellan said he would invest in youth programs.

The event was hosted by 43rd Ward Democratic Committeeperson and former Parker parent Lucy Moog, along with Indivisible Lincoln Park/Lakeview and DePaul Democrats. Moog has been the 43rd Ward Democratic Committeeperson since her election in 2016. Forty-third Ward Democrats use grassroots political organization and other community initiatives to educate about local qualified democrats and help them get elected.

Indivisible is a national political organizing network formed after Trump’s election to try to combat his and the Republican Party’s agenda. Paul Kendrick and Michelle Hoppe Villegas from Indivisible Lincoln Park/Lakeview also hosted the event and moderated questions for candidates.

Joseph Valliquette, president of DePaul College Democrats, was also a host and moderator. Valliquette noted that he was working on increasing his organization’s involvement in local politics.

Junior Audrey Fuder and senior Rania Jones had reached out to Moog beforehand and were able to help at the event. Jones managed the Zoom and Fuder took photos. “I am really thankful for the opportunity I had to participate in the 43rd Ward Aldermanic Forum this year,” Fuder said.

Attendees had to enter through the Webster doors and also needed to present identification to be scanned by a security guard before going into the building.

Make sure to grab a copy of Issue 6 of the Parker Weekly later this month for more coverage on this election.