Paulino Villarreal is new to politics, but he argues he is the one who has been in the trenches for 23rd Ward residents, unlike incumbent Ald. Silvana Tabares, who he says has been missing in action, propped up by Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.
Villarreal says he has been passing out backpacks stuffed with school supplies and giving away turkeys with all the trimmings to ward residents for a Thanksgiving giveaway he does with his wife.
The rookie alderman isn’t listening, she isn’t responding, and she isn’t doing much to help the residents of the Southwest Side ward, Villarreal said.
Tabares’ team didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment from the Chicago Sun Times to respond to Villarreal’s criticisms or to explain her plans for the ward.
“She’s part of the status quo, the Burkes, Zalewskis, the Madigans,” Villarreal said.
“You can’t get in to see her, and she doesn’t do anything for the ward, she goes to Council meetings but hasn’t brought any resources to our community and she doesn’t even have a ward night for residents to come and see her.
“She doesn’t know what it’s like for the working class over here. She’s been given everything politically.”
Tabares is a former state representative who Madigan helped get elected to the Democratic State Central Committee last year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to represent the Southwest Side ward in April after former Ald. Michael Zalewski stepped down last April. The February election will be Tabares’ first time facing voters in her role as alderman of the ward, which sits in the shadow of Midway Airport and includes parts of the Clearing and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods.
Villarreal says he’s being cyber bullied. In one image of an alleged Facebook post, his face has been superimposed on a baby wearing a sombrero, a bottle in one hand and a cigar in the other.
In another, Villarreal’s head is put on the body of a man on a mobility scooter “I must go now, Gotham needs me.” Villarreal has osteoarthritis and uses a mobility scooter to get around.
Another image has his face superimposed on the body of Fat Bastard, from the “Austin Powers” series with the words “where’s my f—–‘ scooter?”
And, on a mailer from “Friends of Tabares” Villarreal’s head is put atop a mall cop’s body on what looks like a Segway under large type that reads “Paulino Villarreal: Fantasy Cop,” a play on the “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” movie and a previous statement the private detective made that he has a concealed carry permit and would patrol the neighborhood himself to curb crime.
Villarreal said he offered to patrol the neighborhood because residents asked for more officers to patrol the ward — a request that was ignored by the incumbent, Villarreal said.
On public safety, Tabares said in an endorsement session before the Sun-Times Editorial Board that she supports giving police officers the tools to do their jobs, keeping the gang database and a new police academy.
Villarreal said Police Supt. Eddie Johnson “isn’t the man for the job,” and he sees the incoming consent decree as putting “handcuffs” on police.
When pressed by the Editorial Board, Tabares wouldn’t say how she felt about the consent decree, only that “any police reform needs to have input from police officers. That’s my stance.”
Villarreal supports a moratorium on charter schools, to make sure “the schools in our area are what’s best for the community.”
Tabares also supports a moratorium, so the ward can focus on improving the existing schools and wants to leverage the ward’s proximity to Midway Airport to bring in job growth and development.
Villarreal said if elected his main focus would be on bringing resources to Archer Avenue and the 63rd Street corridor, the ward’s “main artery.”
“We need to help our small businesses strive and achieve on Archer,” Villarreal said. “We need to get the voters and residents involved in the area and come up with a timeline to pay for developments in our community.”
The private detective wants to bring a firehouse, a hospital and a parking structure to the ward to create foot traffic for business and address some of the community concerns he’s heard.
Villarreal says if elected he’ll have an open door policy to field complaints and concerns and be an alderman who is inclusive and “helps grow” the ward.
“I’m telling everybody we have the ability right now to remove the machine from the 23rd Ward,” Villarreal said. “We have the ability to elect an alderman who isn’t beholden to anyone, to elect an alderman who will work for the people.”