As many as three potential candidates have announced plans to run for the 29th Ward seat held by Ald. Deborah Graham in the 2015 Chicago city election.
And sources say several others are also considering throwing their hat in the ring.
The 29th Ward will take a new form in the 2015 election, due to redistricting that takes place every 10 years.
The ward currently covers portions of Lawndale, Galewood, Austin and Belmont-Central. Belmont-Central, however, would almost completely be cut out of the newly redistricted ward.
The new map includes a larger section of Galewood and sections of Montclare, Schorsch Village, Belmont Heights, North and South Austin, all of The Island and a larger chunk of Lawndale.
Some Oak Parkers are watching the election closely, because the ward runs adjacent to the village along North Avenue and Austin Boulevard.
Larry Andolino, a lawyer with Santana Law Office, and Kulmeet "Bob" Galhotra, an attorney with the Cook County Public Defender, both from Galewood, said in telephone interviews they are actively campaigning.
Zerlina Smith is another potential candidate. Smith could not be reached by phone, but her Facebook page identifies her as a candidate.
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-7th) also is vetting candidates, according to Andolino and Galhotra, who both met with the congressman's staff within the last few weeks.
Graham said in a telephone interview that she plans to run for re-election, but has not met with Davis' staff in the vetting process.
Graham said she already is visiting block parties and getting her message out.
"I'm excited for the democratic process, and I'm looking forward to the campaign," she said.
Andolino said in a telephone interview that he decided to run after conducting a poll of residents of the ward, showing dissatisfaction with Graham and high favorability for himself.
According to the poll of 400 likely voters conducted by Victory Research in late June, 28.6 percent had a favorable view of Andolino and 9.5 percent had an unfavorable view of the candidate. Sixty-two percent of respondents to the survey had not heard of Andolino or could not rate the candidate for some other reason.
Graham's favorability was 29.6 percent, while residents gave her an unfavorable rating of 49.3 percent. The poll showed that 21.2 percent of respondents could not rate the candidate or had not heard of her.
Andolino said he has heard that a number of other candidates are considering a challenge to the incumbent, but the names of the potential candidates could not be confirmed.
"It's going to be a battle," Andolino said. "When you have multiple candidates running against an incumbent, there's a very unfavorable opinion on the job she's doing."
Andolino said his message to voters is going to focus on economic development for the ward and reducing crime.
It is not the candidate's first time to run for office. Andolino ran a failed campaign for 36th Ward committeeman in 2011 against 36th Ward Ald. Nicholas Sposato.
Galhotra also is not new to running for office. He challenged state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) earlier this year, earning 1,363 votes to Harmon's 6,831.
Galhotra said that he's already visited 700 to 800 homes, talking to people about his run for alderman. He said people are upset about the condition of the ward — potholes, untrimmed trees and flooding streets.
"People are upset about the lack of city services," he said. "They feel the ward has been neglected, and it shows."
Answer Book 2016
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