U.S. Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García (D-4th)

U.S. Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García (D-4th)

Despite mayoral loss, Chuy expands Southwest Side footprint

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Lost citywide, but won in 12 and 14 

By Tim Hadac

Southwest Side incumbents did generally well at the polls on Feb. 28, with only one—the recently appointed 12th Ward Ald. Anabel Abarca—going down to defeat.

The biggest winner appeared to be U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-4th). While he lost his mayoral bid (finishing fourth in a field of nine), his protégés rolled to victory in the 12th and 14th wards, expanding his political footprint on the Southwest Side.

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A cheerful Julia M. Ramirez (right) takes a selfie with supporters on Tuesday morning, hours before she defeated 12th Ward Ald. Anabel Abarca. –Supplied photo

In the 12th Ward, with all 22 precincts reporting, Julia M. Ramirez finished with 3,151 votes (57%) to Abarca’s 2,426 (43%). Abarca is backed by her predecessor, longtime Ald. George Cardenas, who left his aldermanic seat last fall when he was elected to the Cook County Board of Review.

Cardenas remains Democratic committeeman of the ward.

In the 13th Ward, Ald. Marty Quinn crushed challenger Paul Bruton, in the most lopsided contest of the day. With all 40 precincts reporting. Quinn ended with 10,910 votes (88%) to Paul Bruton’s 1,501 (12%).

In a statement sent to the press, a victorious Quinn said, “I want to thank the voters of the 13th Ward for reelecting me as your alderman for the next four years. We have accomplished a lot together to make our community a place where people want to live, raise a family and set down roots. But we have more work to do, and I’m honored to work alongside the 13th Ward residents to get it done.”

The 14th Ward race to succeed Edward M. Burke, the longtime dean of the City Council, was not close. With all 15 precincts reporting, García protégé Jeylú B. Gutiérrez racked up 2,937 votes (65%) to 1,573 (35%) for Raul Reyes, who was said to be Burke’s candidate.

With the victory, García has complete control of the ward. The Democratic committeeman of the ward, Aarón Ortíz, is a García disciple.

Burke, facing a federal indictment on corruption charges (he has denied accusations of wrongdoing), now appears to be out of 14th Ward politics for the first time since 1968.

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Students at San Miguel School in Back of the Yards insisted on a selfie with 15th Ward Ald. Raymond A. Lopez, who was happy to oblige. –Supplied photo

In the 15th Ward, with all precincts reporting, Ald. Raymond A. Lopez finished with 3,007 votes (64%) to 1,115 (24%) for Victoria “Vicko” Alvarez and 546 (12%) for Gloria Ann Williams.

The campaign was frequently bitter between Lopez and Alvarez, with each accusing the other of being a hardliner: Lopez allegedly an anti-immigrant right-winger and Alvarez allegedly being an anti-police left-winger.

Lopez remains Democratic committeeman of the ward.

Alvarez was defiant in defeat.

“We demanded the reopening of our mental health clinics,” she said., “We demanded fully funded schools. We demanded state of the art libraries. We ran this our way. Demanding the world for the Southwest Side. The fight continues.”

In fact, it will continue in that Alvarez is one of a slate of Chicago Teachers Union-backed candidates and will doubtless throw herself into the mayoral campaign of Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D-1st), the CTU-backed candidate who finished second to former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas. The two will face off in a runoff election set for Tuesday, April 4.

In the 18th Ward, Ald. Derrick G. Curtis defeated challenger Heather Wills by a comfortable margin, With all 26 precincts reporting, Curtis amassed 6,982 votes (61%) to 4,372 (39%) for Wills.

Curtis also serves as Democratic ward committeeman.

Also winning comfortably was 22nd Ward Ald. Michael D. Rodriguez. With all 19 precincts reporting, Rodriguez finished with 2,942 votes (66%) to 793 (18%) for Kristian R, Armendariz and 692 (16%) for Neftalie Gonzalez.

The 22nd Ward has long been the heart of García’s political base, and Rodriguez is his Democratic committeeman.

Finally, 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares brushed back a challenge from West Lawn resident and business owner Eddie Guillen. With all 33 precincts reporting, Tabares had 6,305 votes (73%) to 2,317 (27%) for Guillen. The race saw Guillen surrogates try to portray the race as an “us versus them” struggle between Garfield Ridge (where Tabares lives) and neighborhoods east of the airport. But apparently, not enough people in West Lawn and West Elsdon bought the argument.

Tabares remains Democratic committeeman of the ward.

In the race for the newly created police council in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District, the top three finishers won. With 127 of 129 precincts reporting, Al Cacciottolo  led the pack of four candidates with 21,090 votes (30%) to 18,449 (26%) for Jason Huff, 16,436 (23%) for Mark Hamberlin and 14,018 (20%) for Letina K. Brady Pettis.

The mayoral race results were clear. With 1,277 of 1,291 precincts reporting, Paul Vallas led with 172.093 votes (34%), 103.387 (20%) for Brandon Johnson, 86,952 (17%) for incumbent Lori Lightfoot, 70,006 (14%) for Jesús “Chuy” García, 48,658 (10%) for Willie Wilson, 10,845 (2%) for Ja’Mal Green, 9,111 (2%) for Kam Buckner, 6,344 (1%) for Sophia King and 2,160 (1%) for Roderick Sawyer.

Vote totals released Tuesday night by the Chicago Board of Elections are unofficial and will change slightly as mail-in votes are counted. But it is not expected to change any of the Southwest Side or citywide results.

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