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Ald. David Moore (17th), center, flanked by former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, left, and Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, at a debate in May at the Union League Club. All are running for secretary of state, but TV commercials have made Moore’s opponents more prominent.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago ‘not a hellhole’

Ald. David Moore is proud of his success in the 17th Ward and defends his community. He — along with former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and City Clerk Anna Valencia — is running to replace Jesse White as Illinois secretary of state.

Email is pretty useless, right? A firehose of poorly written press releases, hyperpartisan money grabs and weaponized malice.

Yet I try to scan the sewage and pluck out the occasional actual reader comment. You never know where they lead. Friday’s column mentioned the Democratic primary race for Illinois secretary of state between former Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and City Clerk Anna Valencia, drawing this.

“Thanks for a good laugh first thing,” wrote Chuck Bernardini. “As for Democrat Secretary of State, take a look at the third candidate David Moore. Alderman 17th ward (St Sabina). Earnest young man universally respected, no controversy, no money, no chance, no sleaze like the other two.”

No sleaze? What fun is that? The name David Moore didn’t ring a bell, which is usually a good sign with City Council members, since they tend to distinguish themselves only by scaling the heights or corruption or folly. No Lori Lightfoot he, Moore deigned to respond to a media inquiry and talk about why he should be elected.

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He already has a safe City Council seat; why push for another job?

“First and foremost, this is a servant seat,” Moore replied. “Similar to my aldermanic seat, it allows you to serve everybody regardless of party, regardless of race, regardless of gender.”

Unlike the top two candidates, with their circus calliope of TV commercials, Moore is running a more understated campaign. Secretary of state represents the limits of his ambition.

”I’m the only one in this race who will not be using this seat as a stepping stone,” Moore said. “This is my last stop. I’m going to concentrate on equity in hiring and bringing about new ideas. That’s why I’m running.”

Dandy, I said. Hit me with a new idea.

”One of the things I talked about is offering digital license plates as options in Illinois,” he replied. “They offer them in Arizona, California, Michigan.” He said the digital plates deter carjacking, since the plates can flash “STOLEN!” and generate revenue through advertising.

I’d never heard of digital plates, but they are a thing, as the kids say. They’re expensive: about $1,300 for each digital plate over five years. There are also privacy issues.

Still, when was the last time you heard a new idea from an alderperson? As opposed to the very old idea of: “You give me money, and I do whatever you want.”

The 17th Ward covers parts of Englewood, West Chatham, Auburn Gresham and Chicago Lawn.

“Fifty thousand residents,” Moore said. “I’m basically mayor of a suburban town.”

“Suburban” is not the word that leaps to mind when considering that part of Chicago. I told Moore one reason clowns like state Sen. Darren Bailey can troll for downstate votes by calling the city a “hellhole” is because all they know about Chicago is what they see on Fox News.

“It’s definitely not a hellhole there,” Moore said, of his ward. “It’s become a very diverse community, an increase of different ethnicities moving into Auburn Gresham and Englewood. Some whites with their children, more and more moved in. More Hispanics moved in. More Arabs have moved in.

“Our home sales are up, not only in number but in value. This is not a hellhole. This is a place where people want to live. Where people want to raise their families or start a business. I’m happy with the things that are happening in the 17th Ward community.”

One reason outsiders can so casually dismiss Chicago is because they’ve never been to many neighborhoods. My family might go to Pilsen to grab lunch at 5 Rabanitos and check out a new exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art nearby. But where should we visit in the 17th Ward?

“Go to the Brewer cafe,” Moore said, referring to Brewer Coffee & Custard. “79th and Morgan. It’s got the best panini sandwich. Then go to Auburn Park. It’s got one of the most beautiful lagoon areas. Great fishing, a very historic place.”

That sounds like a plan.

I enjoyed my conversation with Moore and can’t handicap his chances in the race. But he is confident.

“This is a three-way race,” Moore said. “Somebody was scared enough to put up somebody with my last name” — one Sidney Moore — “who is not really running. That’s why I know we’re a threat. The race is tight.”

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