Hairston challenger vies to split fifth ward power

By Benjamin Pokross

A year after her unsuccessful bid to unseat fifth ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, Anne Marie Miles is mounting another campaign against her former adversary for another of her posts: Democratic Committeeman.

Hairston is currently both the fifth ward’s alderman and democratic committeeman—a situation not legally mandated, but still common in Chicago, including in Toni Preckwinkle’s fourth ward and Willie Cochran’s 20th ward.

Miles announced her campaign on January 27 on her website. If she wins, she will be working alongside Hairston in the unpaid post, which coordinates closely with the alderman to encourage voter turnout, organize party events, and appoint election judges.

“I’m perfectly willing to work with her,” Miles said, waving away the possibility of any simmering tensions with the woman who beat her last February. “I’m a consensus builder.”

Hairston’s office could not be reached for comment.

Miles says she will bring a different perspective to the fifth ward, over which Hairston has presided as alderman since 1999. “I’m running because the fifth ward has always been the voice of independence…[and] I just don’t hear that from our current alderman.”

“Things need to get moving in the ward,” Miles said.

Miles is undaunted by her failed campaign last year, and even hopes that the experience will be advantageous this time around.

“If anything, it’s made me more excited about running,” she said. “Last year many people said, ‘We don’t know who you are,’” Miles said.

Miles would not confirm whether she would run for alderman in the 2015 election, though she suggested that it is a possibility.