CHICAGO — Members of Chicago’s police union are casting their votes Friday for the person they want to serve as president for the next three years.
With a 57%-47% vote, the union voted to reelect John Catanzara.
It came as the city prepares for a shake-up in City Hall, including Chicago Police Department’s superintendent stepping down.
The Chicago FOP Lodge 7 has about 17,000 members in the Chicago area. While many have already sent in their ballots by mail for the FOP election, those who did not had until noon Friday to vote in-person.
Current Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara Jr., a former Chicago police officer, has held the seat as president since 2020. He’s being challenged by a 24-year veteran of CPD, Detective Bob Bartlett.
When Catanzara was elected in 2020, he said it was a priority to get the contract done securing a raise for officers during his first term.
“We have tried to bend over backward, 24-hour service to our members to improve their lives and working conditions,” Catanzara said.
Still, Catanzara has faced criticism about controversial comments he’s made, including those regarding the attack on the US Capitol, as well as strained relationships he has with come city leaders — including Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Bartlett, who hoped to unseat Catanzara, is hoping to rebuild relationships and push for mental health resources and more support for officers if elected.
“I think they’re ready for a change,” Bartlett said.
Both men spoke about some of their priorities and the weight they feel this race holds.
“Working conditions specifically. We want to build momentum and Officer Vasquez-Lasso getting murdered the other day is a pretty good reason why we want to keep building this political arm of this organization stronger and stronger,” Catanzara said.
Catanzara, who previously shared he would run for mayor in 2023, is also facing backlash for comments on several occasions, including one to the Chicago Sun-Times comparing the city’s employee vaccine mandate to Nazi Germany.
In a video posted to YouTube, he later tired to walk back the comments, saying they weren’t supposed to be on the records and apologized to people who were offended, specifically in the Jewish community.
“In no way was I trying to tie forced vaccinations to the Holocaust, which is why I never used the word Holocaust,” Catanzara said.
Still, he stands by the work he’s done during his time as FOP president and said he’s fought hard for officers, including securing a new contract with a raise.
For Bartlett, he said he wanted to build relationships with city and state leaders and fight for better mental health resources for officers.
“What happens not only with this race, but with the mayoral race, is going to set the tone for this city and the police department and it’s going to be the policing of this city. We’re looking for a better tomorrow hopefully with a better mayor and police department that can actually go out and fight crime and protect our citizens,” Bartlett said.
Both candidates tell WGN they’re feeling confident that they’ll be the one members vote in as the FOP president to serve for the next three years.
Other positions on the ballot include sergeant at arms, treasurer and trustee — where 17 people will be selected.