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In strangely reshaped 2nd Ward, east meets west

The 2nd Ward’s new shape has been called a lobster. In an endorsement, the Sun-Times called it a “horseshoe-shaped monstrosity of gerrymandering.”

It’s now home to parts of the Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park and Bucktown. And for its two aldermanic candidates, it’s in some cases a battle of east vs. west.

Map data provided by WBEZ

The current 2nd Ward alderman, Bob Fioretti, gave up the seat to make a failed run for mayor. Vying to replace him are Alyx Pattison, a former partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman and a former aide to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky; and Brian Hopkins, who’s on leave from his job as chief of staff to Cook County Commissioner John Daley.

“I actually have a real concern about the western neighborhoods being advocated for by an eastern alderman,” Pattison said. “I don’t think the reverse is true for Brian. He could easily get away with serving the eastern side of the ward and leave the west side high and dry.”

Pattison, who lives in Ukrainian Village, calls Hopkins a “machine politician,” a term thrown around a lot in the runoff elections.

She said Hopkins, as a Daley aide, helped pass the largest sales tax in state history. Hopkins, however, also worked with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to roll back the regressive Stroger sales tax increase.

Pattison would support a property tax hike only “as a last resort,” she said.

“We need to take a look at some of the TIF money. We need to talk about tax sales on services, limousine rides and tanning salons.”

Hopkins has pledged he won’t raise property taxes in a ward whose residents are already paying some of the highest property tax rates in the city.

Pattison said she’s concerned about crime in the ward, including a recent shooting in Wicker Park. She would consider hiring more beat cops, but also would evaluate the city’s public safety budget.

One big problem for Hopkins and Pattison? You can’t go door-to-door in a high-rise.

“Voters don’t come out to the grocery stores when they have them in their own building,” Pattison said. “The only way to get them is mail and phone, and it’s what’s making this a very expensive ward to run in.”

Since Jan. 1, Pattison has raised more than $158,000, including a $52,600 contribution from the SEIU Illinois Council PAC fund, records show.

Hopkins has raised more than $155,000 since Jan. 1, including a $12,500 contribution from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and $8,000 from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

Hopkins disagrees with Pattison’s claims he won’t represent all the ward’s neighborhoods. He said he was urged to run by his neighbors in Streeterville, but has experience as a community volunteer and has campaigned in all the ward’s neighborhoods.

“I have pledged to open my ward office, if I’m elected, not in Steeterville, but on the western edge of the 2nd Ward. I will be a very visible person in that ward . . . even though the shape of the ward is strange, it’s not like the neighborhoods are 20 miles apart,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins said the first thing he’d do if elected would be to introduce an ordinance in the City Council to overhaul the way the city draws its wards.

“It doesn’t have to be a political process, and it doesn’t have to be a process driven by the needs of incumbent officeholders,” Hopkins said. “I believe we need to create an independent commission.”

Other concerns for the ward for Hopkins include providing basic city services, which he said have been neglected because of the remap.