With the growing fear of gentrification in Chicago’s 25th Ward, the issue of accepting money from developers has come up regularly in the ward’s heated aldermanic campaign between Alex Acevedo and Byron Sigcho-Lopez. The two square off in an April 2 runoff.
During a candidate forum in January, both Acevedo and Sigcho-Lopez pledged that they wouldn’t take money from developers.
“I’m proud to say most of our money has come from small businesses and people from this community,” Acevedo said when he answered the question from the moderator.
WBEZ analyzed campaign contributions for both candidates and found that nearly 25 percent of the direct contributions to Acevedo during this aldermanic run have come from developers. Of the almost $177,000 Acevedo raised since October 2018, about $44,000 came from developers. Those contributions include a combined total of $10,000 from Jim Letchinger and his company JDL Development LLC.
Acevedo’s campaign has also received donations from Rodrigo D’Escoto, who was caught up in the UNO charter school scandal a few years ago. His company was paid about $6.7 million for work on the Soccer Academy Elementary and Galewood schools, and the firm received a contract for about $3.1 million to help build a new high school, the Sun-Times reported in 2016.
“People who fund our campaign will not guide how I engage with the residents in this ward,” Acevedo said. “I’m dedicated to serving them.”
Since October 2018, the Mexican American P.A.C., Inc. has donated a total of $15,450 to Acevedo. That political action committee has received a fair amount of support from powerful Ald. Ed Burke, 14th Ward. The PAC has received at least $25,000 from Burke or his committees since 2018.
“I am my own candidate. I’m an independent voice guided by the people in my ward. I’m proud to be a Mexican American candidate … I’m proud of my heritage.”
Sigcho-Lopez got most of his money from his wife, her family and unions.
Sigcho-Lopez’s wife, Loreen, gave him a third of his contributions—about $80,000 in all. Her family, which includes an executive from Citibank and a retired property manager in Wisconsin, donated $4,100. The Chicago Teachers Union donated $27,500. Sigcho-Lopez received another $62,000 from political action committees affiliated with unions.
María Ines Zamudio is a reporter for WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Follow her @mizamudio.