Illinois Realtors-backed candidates win majority of their aldermanic races

Group poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into both rounds of voting this year

Nicole Lee, Monique Scott, Timmy Knudsen, Illinois Realtors' Jeff Baker, Gilbert Villegas and Peter Chico
Nicole Lee, Monique Scott, Timmy Knudsen, Illinois Realtors' Jeff Baker, Gilbert Villegas and Peter Chico (VoteNicoleLee, AldermanScott, Knudsenfor43, Illinois Realtors, 36thward, Chicofor10, Getty)

While Brandon Johnson’s election as Chicago’s next mayor Tuesday night left many in the real estate community reeling after they poured cash and support into the campaign of his opponent Paul Vallas, one industry group won a few consolation prizes.

Illinois Realtors, a nonprofit trade organization, supported seven candidates in aldermanic runoffs, and five won their races on Tuesday night.

The group poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into aldermanic campaigns between the initial round of voting on Feb. 28 and the runoffs this week. This time around, however, it appears the group got more bang for its buck.

Nicole Lee (11th Ward), Monique Scott (24th), Timmy Knudsen (43rd), Gilbert Villegas (36th) and Peter Chico (10th) all won their respective races while Joe Dunne (48th) and Kim Walz (46th) fell short.

In the final week of the race the Realtors group spent more than $63,000 on the seven candidates. Only a few days prior it spent another $10,000 on Villegas and $5,000 on Knudsen. Illinois Realtors did not return a request for comment.

Knudsen, appointed by outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot last year, is the former chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals and faced consultant Brian Comer in the runoff. Lee ran as an incumbent appointed to her seat by outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Villegas and Scott were also incumbents.

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Dunne, Chico and Walz were all newcomers vying for seats of retiring aldermen. Chico, a police officer, beat out labor organizer Ana Guajardo.

Dunne, an affordable housing developer, lost to local business owner and political organizer Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth. And Walz, a Walgreens executive, lost to Angela Clay, a community organizer. Ahead of the February election, Illinois Realtors fund spent $65,000 on Walz to get her into the runoff, making her one of the three candidates that received the most money from the organization.

In the February election, the other two that received the most from the fund, and more than $100,000 combined, also lost, with residential broker Andre Peloquin falling in the 48th Ward and Ebony Lucas falling in the 4th Ward.

In all, the group supported 10 incumbent city council members who won decisively in February, most of whom received less than $6,000 from the group, while three — Silvana Tabares (23rd), Samantha Nugent (39th), and Debra Silverstein (50th) — each received between $10,000 and $16,500.

The fund tied to the group is considered an Independent Expenditure Committee by the state election board and controlled by Illinois Realtors CEO Jeff Baker. It spent more than $400,000 on Chicago elections this year, and receives money from the Illinois Realtors Association, the Chicago Realtors Association and the National Realtors Association.

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From left: Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson (Getty)
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