In Obama’s home ward, City Council race is ‘the people versus the machine’

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CHICAGO -- A fascinating campaign is underway on Chicago’s South Side, with five candidates vying for one City Council seat. Hanging over the race are some familiar names: Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama and Laquan McDonald.

In an area spanning from downtown to Hyde Park, 4th Ward voters head to the polls next Tuesday to pick their alderman. It’s an off-year special election shaping up in classic Chicago fashion.

The establishment candidate

The establishment backs Sophia King. Ten months ago, she was appointed alderman by Mayor Rahm Emanuel after the resignation of Will Burns.

King has reportedly raised $200,000 and scored superstar endorsements, including former President Obama. If she wins, King says she’ll keep focusing on public safety.

"We’ve got to fund neighborhood schools, we have to fund youth engagement programs, good mentorship programs," King said.

The anti-Mayor activist

Gregory Livingston is in the race. He is an fierce anti-Mayor Emanuel activist. On the trail, he is calling out Chicago’s racial divide.

"Let me take you to Ed Burke’s Ward 14, the schools are different, the streets are different, the commercial strips are different. The alleys are different," Livingston said. "Why? Because some aldermen are more skillful and powerful than others. I’m your man."

Clashes over fundraising

Livingston and King are trading nasty barbs. Last night, they clashed over fundraising.

"I’ve asked my neighbor here how he can take half his money from Republican Rauner group and call himself independent," King said.

"My money does not have the blood of Laquan McDonald on it," Livingston replied.

The communicator

Also vying for the 4th ward seat: Real Estate Attorney and former teacher Ebony Lucas. If elected, she plans to focus on communication.

"We have not had an alderman that kept the community informed and engaged and you have to build a sense of community," Lucas said. "This race is the people versus the machine."

The community figure

Marcellus Moore, a lawyer, is talking up his deep community involvement.

"I’ve been very active in the community. I work for 6 organizations in the community, I’m on two local school councils. I’ve run the local Little League," Moore said. "We can talk about schools. We can talk about economic development but until people feel safe living in the community, until people feel safe sending their kids to school in the community."

The campaigner

Attorney Gerald Scott McCarthy says he plans to out campaign his rivals.

"Well you know it’s kind of like this, the people of the 4th ward are going to elect me. That’s how we’re going to beat her. One neighborhood, one community at a time," McCarthy said.

The vote

About 11,000 people cast ballots in the last 4th ward election. A couple hundred votes could decide this race.

The election is on Tuesday. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the top two move on to a runoff in April.