Updated 12:40 a.m.
Byron Sigcho-Lopez and Alex Acevedo topped the field of candidates running in Chicago’s 25th Ward aldermanic race Tuesday, setting them up for a runoff election that will decide new leadership for the first time in over two decades.
Sigcho-Lopez, educator and policy researcher at UIC, received 29 percent of the vote Tuesday. Acevedo, a registered nurse, earned the other spot in the April 2 runoff election with 22 percent of the vote.
Sigcho-Lopez ran against outgoing Ald. Danny Solis four years ago and got 18 percent of the vote. He is the former executive director of Pilsen Alliance, an organization fighting against gentrification. He was endorsed by Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
“I’m ready to have an opportunity to speak again with the residents of the 25 ward. I’m very thankful to the residents for giving me this opportunity to be in the runoff. I’m also thankful for the other candidates that also have put a lot on the line,” Sigcho-Lopez said.
Alex Acevedo is a registered nurse who now works as a community relations manager at Oak Street Health. Acevedo is the son of former Democratic state Rep. Eddie Acevedo and unsuccessfully ran for his father’s seat in 2016 against Theresa Mah, who is endorsing Dominguez.
“This campaign continues to be about unifying the diverse voices of our neighborhoods and the healing of our community,” Acevedo said. “Since day one, we stood strong against the corruption that has crippled our economy and led to decades of environmental and public health crises in the 25th Ward.”
Hilario Dominguez is a 25-year-old former teacher and community organizer with The Resurrection Project, an affordable housing organization in Pilsen. He received the coveted endorsement of Democratic U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, of Chicago, and from Democratic state Rep. Theresa Mah and the Chicago Sun-Times. He conceded Tuesday night.
Aida Flores is a former Chicago Public School teacher and principal. She works as a management consultant. Flores did not concede citing an investigation of reports of vote-buying by the Sigcho-Lopez campaign. The Illinois attorney general confirmed Tuesday evening reports that supporters for the Sigcho-Lopez campaign were offering gift cards to voters at the 1354 S. Morgan polling place.
Sigcho-Lopez denied the allegations Tuesday night but vowed to cooperate with the investigation.
Troy Hernandez is a data scientist and director of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization. Hernandez was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune.
Regardless of who wins, residents of the ward that includes parts of Pilsen, the West Loop, Chinatown and Little Italy will get a new alderman for the first time in 23 years.
Last year, powerful Ald. Danny Solis made the surprise announcement that he would not run for re-election. In late January, it was revealed that the retiring alderman had been wearing a wire for the FBI to record conversations with Ald. Ed Burke, 14th Ward, who is facing a federal corruption charge. The Chicago Sun-Times later reported that feds had earlier been gathering salacious evidence in an investigation against Solis himself.
During the campaign, the ghost of the outgoing alderman was ever-present, and all the candidates tried to distance themselves from Solis.
At forums, opponents often accused Dominguez of protecting Solis a few years ago during an anti-gentrification protest — an accusation Dominguez denies. At the time, Dominguez was an organizer with The Resurrection Project, and several young Pilsen residents confronted Dominguez about the protest and his alleged protection of Solis. Flores was also criticized during the forums for the positive language she used in describing Solis’ legacy in the ward.
Sigcho-Lopez’s campaign is built around claims that Solis is corrupt and that he’s fought against Solis for years.
Scandal aside, the 25th Ward is one of several in Chicago that are grappling with changing demographics, gentrification and displacement of its longtime residents. During Solis’ tenure, the 25th Ward experienced significant development. And the new alderman will face questions about whether to continue developments or slow them down.
One of the biggest and most controversial is The 78, a massive mixed-use project in between the South Loop and Chinatown that’s in line to get $700 million in public tax dollars. The $7 billion development includes 500 on-site affordable housing units. The developer also agreed to pay a $91.3 million fee to the city’s Affordable Housing Opportunity fund. Another 500 units must be built in PIlsen and Little Village, the Sun-Times reported.
Candidates Dominguez, Hernandez and Sigcho-Lopez are against the project and said they would stop it if they get elected. Acevedo and Flores didn’t go that far, saying they would audit the project before making a decision on whether to move forward.
Some of the most pressing issues during the campaign included rent control, expanding access to affordable housing and slowing down gentrification in Pilsen. Sigcho-Lopez supports enacting aren't control policy in Chicago, even though such plans are forbidden by state law. Dominguez expressed support for lifting the statewide ban on rent control but was unclear about whether he supports a local ordinance.
Another big development in the works that could be impacted by this election is the El Paseo trail, a plan to transform the abandoned BNSF railroad into a multiuse trail similar to the 606 on the North Side. The El Paseo would repurpose four miles of abandoned railway running east of Pilsen to South Lawndale.
Residents near the proposed route are afraid their property taxes will increase so that they’ll no longer be able to afford to live there. They often cite a study of the 606 trail that found that project led to the displacement of mostly Latino families out of Logan Square. The study found that the trail accelerated gentrification and the nonprofit in charge of the construction didn’t have a way to handle issues brought by the community.
Dominguez, Hernandez and Sigcho-Lopez said they would support a property tax freeze for low-income homeowners near the planned El Paseo trail.