More election maps

Michael Podgers:

Great graphics from Daniel Kay Hertz showing how the Chicago mayoral election panned out.

Originally posted on City Notes:

These are by precinct, rather than ward, and so provide a lot more granular detail. I’ve kept all scales and colors the same, except where new categories were required (because Fioretti won a few precincts, but no wards, for example).

Thanks to Max Rust of the Sun-Times for the data.



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The Republic of Chicago

For decades, Chicago could be best described as a little monarchy. The Daley dynasty for many is as much a natural element of Chicago life as hot dogs without ketchup on a poppy-seed bun or bay-windowed bungalows. Years pass under the leadership of the first and second Richard Daley. There were periods in between when power transitioned to others, but America’s Second City eventually came back into the family fold. Since the second Daley left office Chicago turned more into an oligarchy under the leadership of current Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Business interests have the full support of the administration and City Hall has received the ire of many interests around town who see  the Loop prioritized over schools and neighborhoods. He became the unstoppable Rahmfather. Then the impossible happened. Da Mayr was challenged and for the first time in the history of Chicago’s required 51% threshold to win without a runoff da Mayr was below that 51% threshold.

Welcome to the Republic of Chicago.

In this city, the office of the mayor comes with a lot of power and strength, and generally speaking that means whoever holds that office can hold out for a quick and painless electoral victory (unless you totally foil post-blizzard clean-up). But not tonight. The power of the public vote may not have unseated a mayor, nor guaranteed the Fifth Floor to a new one, but it did make a statement–loud and clear–that it is possible to take on the mayor and give them a legitimate and serious challenge.

Much of this comes from a dislike for Emanuel that runs deep into the core of many Chicagoans. The closing of schools, the perpetual crime plaguing many neighborhoods on the South and West Sides–Englewood, Austin, and others. There is the sense that the Loop gets all the attention while the neighborhoods are overlooked. The CTA plods along and economic growth is meager in many parts of the city all the while a new ‘L’ station and basketball arena get funding near McCormack Place. This election is in as many ways a referendum on Emanuel as mayor as it is a rallying cry around any one candidate.

Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia did well tonight. His results placed him within arms length of City Hall. He has a long way to go for a full-on victory and much of that will depend on the opposition coalescing behind him and his ability to maintain the votes he already won. Regardless of how he does at the end though, the fact the city has reached this point is not just important, but impressive. Chicago, the Democratic machine town that reveres its Mayor like royalty, or at the very least remains ambivalent enough not to fight it has gone and done something that is rarely done. It has risen and voiced its discontent and anger and said, “wait, we’re not happy and we want change”. Rather than flee to the suburbs there is a push to really think about the possibility that change can come from within and actually be to the benefit of the entire city.

Whoever comes out on top will have a hell of a job ahead of them. The pension crisis still hasn’t passed, deficits loom for the schools, and the fiscally conservative new governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, has already put forward a financial plan that would make huge cuts to city services and welfare programs that are sure to hit Chicago hard. There is demand for CTA expansions, but service is still less than ideal on already existing routes. The mayor will have to maintain job growth and private investment and attract new residents and retain old ones through all this too. And it won’t be any easier on citizens either.

Still, we have shown that we are willing to assert ourselves and take back the city. We as citizens want a more active role in government. We want a government that responds to the needs of its residents. One that recognizes the importance of comprehensive transit systems, one that acknowledges how precious a resources parks and green spaces are, and one that understands the role strong public schools play in community building.

Come April, the likelihood that Emanuel will resume his duties as Mayor is strong. For all intents and purposes, despite the hatred, he hasn’t been universally awful. He has been a proponent of investments in the ‘L’ and a strong hand in bringing businesses into the Loop. But that has proven insufficient in relation to his other policies and priorities: closing and inordinate number of CPS schools despite increases in financing for charter schools, jumping through hoops to guarantee access to parkland for private museum projects, or investing TIF money into vanity projects for private institutions. And despite Garcia’s strong record in politics, there is no promise he is the messiah this city needs. He could be, but we can’t know for sure.

What is important is the city came out and voted (even if turnout was low) and set a new tone: the mayor and his support base can be challenged and will be challenged. It may be time for the Republic of Chicago.

And honestly, the change feels good.

It’s a petition frenzy out there

It’s a petition frenzy out there.

At the moment, two major drives are being organized to petition the state government in Illinois to act responsibly in its role as a state-wide transportation planner.

The longer running of the two efforts is protesting the Illiana Tollroad. The planned project would connect I-55 near Wilmington, IL with I-65 near Lowell, IN. The proposed public-private partnership would be maintained and operated post-completion by a private authority collecting toll revenue to pay back the costs of construction. The deal however requires the states of Illinois and Indiana to cover the difference is toll revenue if enough isn’t made. Ridership projections are low and in all likelihood will make little difference in congestion in Southland–the southern suburbs of Chicago. The project has been named one of the county’s biggest highway boondoggles by the US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) (Highway Boondoggles USPIRG).

Opposition to the project comes from a variety of perspectives, which are coalescing into a loose coalition of advocates pushing for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) to take the last stand and kill the project for good. The potential for this has grown since his inauguration: he put the project on hold (which has since happened in Indiana too) and he appointed a known opponent of the Illiana as acting head of IDOT. Almost 13,000 signatures were delivered to Rauner’s offices in Chicago this past week.

The petitions against the Illiana, all of which took part in the recent petition drop, include:


The other major petition drive happening is the Active Transportation Alliance PETITION seeking to convince Illinois leaders to prevent major funding cuts for the Chicagoland RTA and other urban transportation agencies. Although Rauner contends the cuts, upwards of $130 million for the RTA ($105 million for the CTA alone), account for a small percentage of the transit systems’ operating budgets many fear the cuts could reverse progress the RTA agencies are making to improve service.

Organizers seeking to maintain the funding recognize the state is in dire fiscal straights right now, but argue there are reasonable alternatives to cuts across the board. This includes an increase in the state gas tax.

The budget proposed by Rauner isn’t final however and must still pass the Democrat controlled legislature.

Good Development and Bad Design: How the Sauganash Glen project missed the mark on design

A ground breaking even this past Friday marked the beginning of the end for a large vacant lot in the far Northwest Side community Sauganash. Located along Peterson Avenue adjacent to the Sauganash bike trail (technically the Valley Line Trail) and two and a half blocks west of Pulaski Road, the project dubbed Sauganash Glen is a much-needed boost to the neighborhood. It fills in a huge hole along Peterson Avenue and will provide new housing in a neighborhood popular with families because of its proximity to good schools, green space, the Loop, and north suburbs. The project, however good it is for the community’s growth, totally missed the mark in regards to design though. Although it incorporates some smart design elements, the overall project fails to do the absolute best to improve Sauganash. Alderman Margaret Laurino is probably thrilled by the project, as it will show she’s good on development during her re-election campaign, but it also is indicative of her failure to really push for truly stellar results.

The plan, developed by K. Hovnanian Homes, calls for 35 homes along a cul-de-sac extension of Kildare Avenue and along Sauganash Avenue. The homes, which will likely range from $700,000-$900,000 each, will be build in pseudo-historical styles based on the mixed architecture of the neighborhood–the area is dominated by homes built during the middle decades of the 20th century. Homes will range in size from about 2,500-4,500 square feet each with a detached three car garage.

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The Sauganash Village subdivision, south of the project site along Peterson Avenue.

Despite a number of very traditionally suburban characteristics, the project certainly does maximize on potential density considering it consists entirely of single-family detached homes; it also departs from the walled off community design visible across the street in the Sauganash Village subdivision. Rather than place all the homes behind high brick walls facing into the project site, this subdivision will be a relatively open plan without major barriers to the street, indeed along Sauganash Avenue the homes will be street facing rather than into the development. This will make for a significantly more active and human scale street scape compared to the other side of Peterson. Additionally, the homes designs appear consistently tasteful and will hopefully offer enough architectural variety to not verge on being cookie cutter.

Beyond these details, the developments design still leaves much to be desired and it is disappointing there was less pressure from the alderman’s office to ensure the best design possible. There are … things in particular I would have changed with this design:

1) Street-facing houses on Peterson: All along Peterson and Caldwell avenues from Devon to Rogers homes face the street. Considering private alleys would eliminate the need for either driveways onto Peterson or on-street parking, facing the front façades towards Peterson would’ve been a wise move. This seems like urban planning 101. This was an easy opportunity to counter the walls that suck the life out of Peterson on the Sauganash Village side of the street. It would also help promote using Peterson at a more human scale. In fact, it could have been used as an impetus to improve Peterson and begin employing more complete street design elements along a busy corridor with a number of business including better on-street parking, new bus shelters and landing pads, new planted medians with pedestrian islands and possible curb bump-outs at Peterson and Sauganash.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 11.26.01 PM2) Build bike/pedestrian access to Sauganash Avenue: This is a huge sticking point for me. The project plans to build the extension of Kildare as a cul-de-sac. Okay, fine, but why was a pedestrian/bike path not included so people could directly gain access to Sauganash Avenue? This is an entirely ridiculous application of suburban planning practices in Chicago’s grid system. Even the inward facing Sauganash Village on the south side of Peterson includes access to both streets it opens onto.

3) Less parking: I admit, it is unclear at this point if each residence is automatically going to include a three-car garage as reported in DNAinfo Chicago, or if that is an option, but in an area accessible to a bike trail, which is part of a growing network into the city and suburbs, a 5 minute walk to the Pulaski #53 bus, adjacent to the Peterson #84 bus and a less than 10 minute bus or car trip to the Metra Milwaukee District North Line, there seems to be no reason to build homes with anything more than a two-car garage. Although that in its own right might be considered large by some, a two-car garage maximum is about right for this community. Sauganash won’t become a biker’s paradise anytime soon, but it doesn’t have to become more car-centric either.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 11.14.30 PM4) Better access to the bike trail: According to DNAinfo Chicago, the reason a fifth bike trail entrance isn’t getting built is because the proposed site is controlled by ComEd, which was unwilling to cede access to build an access ramp. Although that is obviously out of the control of a lot of parties, it is still troublesome no alternatives were sought. The Sauganash bike trail is part of a potentially expansive network on the Northwest Side and into the suburbs and poor access would be a huge disappointment.

Good urban planning need not always be big and bold; nuance and subtlety can achieve quite a bit. This project has its better elements, but it is painful to see something being built that lacks basic elements of successful urban design and ultimately falls into the bad habit of employing excessively suburban practices in an urban environment. Sauganash may be a thoroughly residential community, but it too needs to be treated as part of the urban fabric and one that gets the best out of smart urban planning practices.

Petition the Illiana; Throw some support behind Streetsblog CHI

The PETITION hosted by Urbanelijk against the Illiana Tollroad in south suburban Chicagoland is in its last leg and needs 60 more signatures to reach its goal of 500 total. Although 500 plus would be great, getting this last 60 would be a huge step.

Once the 500 goal is reached, the signatures and a related document explaining why the Illiana Tollroad is a socially, economically, and environmentally unsustainable project with broad opposition will be sent to the governors of Illinois and Indiana, the county commissioners of the CMAP counties and affected Indiana counties, and the heads of both state DOTs.

Get the last bit of support out and get this PETITION to the 500 signature goal!


Streetsblogs Chicago is nearing its fundraising goals to get back into daily publishing. The news source received a challenge grant from the Chicago Community Trust: if SBC can reach $50K by April 8 the CCT will grant SBC the last $25K it needs to resume its work. Throw some money their way and get Streetsblog Chicago riding again.


Keep an eye out, because the spring construction season is beginning soon. The city plans on repaving 300 miles of streets per year and as the Active Transportation Alliance points out, this is a good opportunity for community activists to put in a good word for sustainable/complete street building. Make sure you know your local activist organization and get in touch with your local aldermanic offices.


If you’re ready to cast your vote for the 2015 municipal elections, but aren’t available to vote on Feb. 24, get out and vote ahead of time at one of the city’s early voting centers. Here is the complete list of locations for early voting.