The amount of money needed to run for office is simply obscene. In his most recent campaign handbook, former alderman Dick Simpson says that a candidate for alderman today needs a quarter of a million dollars to run a credible race. Of course, the job pays well. The incumbent, Debra Silverstein, earns $116,208 annually, or a one-term total of $464,832. Nearly a half-million dollars over four years for a part-time job she basically phones in.
If she wins a third term, she can retire in comfort on the generous pension provided by taxpayers. If, for example, she serves a third term, giving her 12 years in office, and pays enough into her retirement fund to “buy” extra years of service, her pension would be 80% of her final salary, plus a guaranteed 3% annual increase. And aldermanic salaries only go up, never down.
Silverstein currently has $97,288 in funds for her 2018 re-election race, $8,500 of which has been donated since September, The $8.500 came from just five donors: Cermak Produce ($1,000); Comcast ($1,500); businessman / investor Asher Kohn ($1,000), and the Chicagoland Operators Joint Labor Management PAC ($5,000).
She also received an August contribution from Regal Jewels in the odd amount of $318. I can’t help noting that the contribution arrived just as another of the family’s businesses, the Hindu temple on Devon, secured permission from the alderman to violate the law and hold two dance festivals–complete with loudspeakers–alongside residential housing. Not that there’s any connection, even though anyone who pays attention will see a pattern in business donations to the alderman.
And how much money do the candidates for Illinois Senate have on hand?
Ira Silverstein has $89,169, with $14,200 raised since September,; $9,200 of that came after he was accused of sexual harassment at the end of October. Those contributions came from Chicagoland Operators Joint Labor Management PAC (a whopping $7,000); the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association $1,000), and the Realtor PAC ($1,200). I wonder how the women represented by those donors feel about these contributions.
Ram Villivalam has $66,635 in ready cash, all raised since November 7 and most from himself, his wife, family, and the Indo American Democratic Organization. All the big donors gave $5,000 each, with Villivalam and his wife each donating $5,600. Only two organizations, the Illinois Political Active Letter Carriers and the Progressive Turnout Coalition, are represented; each gave $1,000.
Caroline McAteer-Fournier lists two donors and a total of $2,500 raised.
Zehra Quadri and David Zulkey do not report any contributions.
Anyone planning to run for alderman should have been raising money already. Once the challenges to the Senate candidates are decided, we’ll really see the money race begin. Personally, I think the race will come down to two candidates, Silverstein and Villivalam. Nobody else has the money to wage a proper campaign.
If you don’t already have the money for a March race, you won’t have it at all.