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Successor to former state Rep. Luis Arroyo chosen, but one Cook County Democrat says ‘the fix is in’

Using proxy votes of Arroyo, who resigned after he was charged with bribery, could set up a fight with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who had warned against any involvement by Arroyo in choosing his successor.

Ald. Ariel Reboyras announces Eva-Dina Delgado will succeed former Rep. Luis Arroyo.
30th Ward Ald. Ariel Reboyras announces Eva-Dina Delgado will succeed former Rep. Luis Arroyo at a Friday meeting at the Alliance of Polish Clubs.
Rachel Hinton/Sun-Times

Setting the stage for a potential battle with one of the state’s most powerful Democrats, a Northwest Side alderman and three other Democratic committeemen on Friday picked a successor for former state Rep. Luis Arroyo.

They did so with the use of Arroyo’s proxy votes — though he faces federal bribery charges, Arroyo remains the 36th Ward committeeman. That led another Democratic committeeman to leave the meeting, declaring “the fix is in.”

Arroyo didn’t attend, but 30th Ward Ald. Ariel Reboyras cast his own weighted vote and Arroyo’s proxy. In the end, Eva-Dina Delgado, an assistant to the president of Peoples Gas, was ultimately selected to finish Arroyo’s term.

Arroyo, who held the largest weighted vote, had called the meeting at the Alliance of Polish Clubs.

But after he did, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan sent letters to the other committeemen, warning them that any involvement from Arroyo “whether a direct vote or a vote by proxy would cause the candidate’s qualifications to be challenged by the full Illinois House of Representatives.”

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who’s also the 35th Ward committeeman, walked out of the meeting Friday, saying the process had been tainted by the use of Arroyo’s votes.

“I’ve been urging Ariel Reboyras not to use Arroyo’s proxy for weeks — I told him that would put a cloud over the process,” Ramirez-Rosa said after he walked out. “It’s clear he’s hell-bent on filling the vacancy with the support and collusion of the disgraced former state rep.”

Besides Ramirez-Rosa, only three other committeemen eligible to vote showed up — 37th Ward Ald. Emma Mitts, 29th Ward Ald. Chris Taliaferro and Reboyras. State Sen. Iris Martinez also attended as proxy for former 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno.

Three candidates dropped out of the Friday process, citing the “cloud” cast by the use of Arroyo’s proxy votes. Six addressed the remaining four voting members, explaining why they’d make a good state representative.

Delgado, who is also on the Chicago Police Board and had the support of Martinez, said “people in this community need to be put first.”

After being selected, Delgado said she was “humbled” by the support.

“I consider myself to be a person of integrity and personally I wouldn’t want to be involved in something that was marred, but I respect the process, and we just have to see what comes next,” Delgado said.

Delgado says she is her own person — she hasn’t spoken to Arroyo since he was charged. She also said even though her husband, Erik Varela, has worked in the office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office, that doesn’t mean she has a close relationship with Preckwinkle, who is also Cook County Democratic chair.

The meeting came nearly two weeks after the county party’s executive committee sent a letter to Arroyo, asking him to step down from his post.

Instead of responding, or stepping down, Arroyo sent a letter of his own last Friday, calling a meeting of the nine other committeemen who represent voters in the state’s 3rd House District.

Reboyras resisted Madigan’s warning. In his own letter, Reboyras said Madigan’s statement was “an illegal and discriminatory effort to disenfranchise Latino voters” and said he’d sue the speaker officially and personally for “intentional discrimination against Latinos,” if the 36th Ward were left out of the process.

Reboyras defended the process. He said he hasn’t spoken to Arroyo since he was charged and there was no “collusion” between the two.

“It was a legal process and I believe the law is on our side,” he said, when asked of that potential House challenge to Delgado. “There’s no malice. It’s not about speaker Madigan, it’s about the process that we did and the representation of the constituents of the 3rd legislative district.”