As one Southwest Side alderman cruised to re-election and another was apparently sent packing, a community organizer was poised to enter City Hall after a hotly contested race to replace outgoing Ald. Danny Solis (25th).
Byron Sigcho-Lopez had 54.3 percent of the vote to Alexander “Alex” Acevedo’s 45.7 percent with all 32 precincts reporting late Tuesday, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
Sigcho-Lopez, the executive director of the Pilsen Alliance, and Acevedo, a pediatric nurse and son of former state Rep. Eddie Acevedo, were vying to replace Solis, who announced last year he would not seek re-election.
Declaring victory Tuesday night, Sigcho-Lopez was quick to point to the more than two decades Solis spent in the City Council, saying: “We have made history because we have changed a legacy of 23 years. My commitment now is to start the real work.”
Solis has largely remained out of the public eye since January when the Sun-Times first reported that he wore a wire for federal authorities who were investigating Ald. Ed Burke (14th) and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. An explosive federal court filing also detailed how Solis allegedly hit up developers for campaign contributions and took favors like Viagra and use of a luxury farm from those doing business before the council.
Supporters of Sigcho-Lopez crowded into a small Mexican restaurant near Cermak and Ashland Tuesday night, standing on chairs and even tables and waving their fists in the air in support. Chants of “Si se puede” erupted whenever the latest update showed Sigcho-Lopez’s slight lead grow. When old footage of Solis appeared on TVs, they chanted “Lock him up!”
The atmosphere was abuzz for a fresh and new start to a ward that has been controlled by machine politics for years.
“Byron is strictly for the people and has been for the people for the last 10 years,” Anthony Rodriguez, 47, said. “He’s a community organizer and not a career politician.”
The 25th Ward covers Pilsen, parts of the West Loop and Chinatown.
In the 15th Ward — which covers portions of Brighton Park, Back of the Yards, Gage Park and West Englewood — incumbent Ald. Ray Lopez had 59.5 percent of the vote over his challenger Rafael “Rafa” Yanez, a Chicago Police officer, with all precincts reporting.
“We’ve done the work,” Lopez said. “Our efforts for four years will speak for themselves.”
Lopez said his top priority for a second term would be “to build on our efforts to bring safety and security to the forefront in our community” and work to improve economic opportunity in the area.
In his single term as alderman, Lopez has made waves in the 15th Ward with his criticisms of gangs in the area along with his support for the construction of a new, $95 million police training academy.
In May 2017, 10 people were shot — two fatally — near 46th Place and Rockwell in Brighton Park. Those wounded were attending a memorial for another person who was murdered in a gang-related shooting earlier that same day.
At a press conference after the mass shooting, Lopez said he was “thankful today that no innocent lives were lost.”
Following the remarks, police said, the Satan Disciples street gang made a threat against him. The department soon after assigned a temporary security detail to Lopez’s home.
Lopez is a former Southwest Airlines skycap who has maintained a high profile since his 2015 election, particularly on the never-ending gang violence plaguing Brighton Park, Back of the Yards, Gage Park and West Englewood. He is also a member of the City Council’s Latino and LGBTQ caucuses.
Four years ago, Lopez also faced off against Yanez for the 15th Ward’s City Council seat.
After coming in 143 votes shy of beating Ald. Toni Foulkes (16th) in 2015, Stephanie Coleman appeared poised to get her revenge Tuesday night.
Coleman held a commanding lead, garnering 67 percent of the vote with more than 86 percent of the ward’s 36 precincts reporting. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Foulkes, formerly the 15th Ward alderman, beat Lopez in a 2011 runoff. After that ward was redrawn with a Hispanic majority, Foulkes jumped into the race to represent the 16th Ward — which covers parts of Englewood, West Englewood and Chicago Lawn — allowing Lopez to run for a then vacant seat.
Foulkes went on to win the 16th Ward race in 2015 after incumbent JoAnn Thompson died a few weeks before the February election. Foulkes narrowly beat Coleman in the runoff. Thompson had won the seat in 2007 by defeating incumbent Ald. Shirley Coleman — Stephanie Coleman’s mother.