Acevedo, Sigcho-Lopez square off for 25th Ward aldermanic seat
March 30, 2019

By Eva Hoffmann

The 25th Ward, which covers parts of Pilsen, the Near West Side/Taylor Street, the South Loop, and Chinatown, is the only ward in this area in which no candidate received more than 50% of the vote on Feb. 26. Consequently, the top two finishers, Alex Acevedo and Byron Sigcho-Lopez, will be on the ballot April 2, and the winner will become alderman of the 25th Ward, succeeding Daniel Solis, the longtime alderman who did not run again after his finances were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and he wore an undercover wire for the FBI when talking to other elected officials and developers.

Sigcho-Lopez garnered 2,885 votes for 29.23%, while Acevedo received 2,182 votes for 22.11% in the first round. Other candidates were Hilario Dominguez, 2,056 for 20.83%; Aida Flores, 1,912 for 19.37%; and Troy Antonio Hernandez, 835 for 8.46%.

Alex Acevedo

Born and raised in the 25th Ward, Alex Acevedo is a pediatric nurse and community organizer. He has spent the last ten years delivering mobile health care to seniors and people with disabilities, providing public safety workshops, and organizing youth programs.

On the question of gentrification, Acevedo said, “We have to think about multiple factors and underlying causes of gentrification. Affordable housing and healthcare are first and foremost.”

He advocates curbing gentrification by addressing the community’s economic needs. ”We need circular economies that create local jobs and allow for wealth creation at a local level,” he said.  “Let’s implement locally based business incubators to grow local businesses and give them access to financial resources and coaching.”

To prevent the El Paseo trail from bringing gentrification and pushing out longtime residents, Acevedo backs supporting local business in this corridor. “It is crucial that we freeze property taxes for residents living along the trail who own homes,” he said.  Acevedo also proposed incorporating sustainable construction and the arts community into the project. “My commitment as alderman would be to have a holistic, community-driven approach to this project with regular hearings, comment periods, and input from residents,” he said.

Regarding pollution from the ward’s old coal plants, he said. “We need to demand reparations for the years of health and environmental degradation caused by polluting sites and push for green energy, green space, and revitalization of the industrial corridors of the 25th Ward.

Acevedo said he is against businesses such as a distribution center replacing the generating plant and bringing diesel trucks that create more pollution and pose a safety risk to children at nearby schools.

He also addressed gerrymandering in Little Italy, which is now divided among three aldermen. “The Little Italy community deserves to have one alderman and fair representation as a neighborhood,” he said.

On police protection, Acevedo said, “We need to partner with communities and bring back the trust between police officers and neighbors. We need dedicated beat officers that develop relationships with residents and restore programs like the Officer Friendly program. I started the Pilsen Neighborhood Watch group and grew it from seven members to over 7,000. We have to encourage neighborhoods across to city to engage in partnerships and a smart allocation of CPD resources that will prioritize restoring community trust in the police.” 

 To fix sidewalks and potholes, Acevedo said he also must address the lagging follow-up on City service requests at the ward and City level. “I will lead a 21st century alderman’s office that responds efficiently to service requests,” he said. “I will also advocate for a community-led process that prioritizes green development. Not only is the green economy good for the environment, but it will continue to bring opportunities for organized labor with sustained job creation.” He also wants more bike lanes and sidewalks to encourage pedestrian traffic that benefits families and small business growth. “I am fully committed in pushing for green development and will hold developers to high standards on energy efficiency and sustainability,” he said.

Acevedo supports heavy accountability and transparency measures on tax increment financing (TIFs) as well as a study of the economic and social return on investment for TIFs across the city to assess their overall effectiveness in Chicago.

Regarding rent control, he said, “The people of Chicago recently spoke up in favor of rent control at the ballot box, but rent control is not a silver bullet. We need to explore multiple options for renters and homeowners that prioritize the possibility of enabling home ownership to keep communities together and create a circular economy. Increasing affordable housing and implementing options like first-time homebuyer loan and credit programs would go a long way.”

For more information on the candidate, go to www.alexfor25.com.

Editor’s note: After repeated attempts to interview Alex Acevedo for this 25th Ward candidate profile, Gazette Chicago never received a response from Acevedo or his campaign. The preceding is based on an interview we did with him prior to the Feb. 26 election.

Byron Sigcho-Lopez

Byron Sigcho-Lopez

The longtime executive director of the Pilsen Alliance (he recently stepped down to concentrate on the aldermanic race), Byron Sigcho-Lopez said his commitment to the community and principles remain as they always have been. “We are excited that the results of the election show the strength of our message and its resonance with voters,” he said. “I am very proud of our campaign for showing that our communities are aligned on the need to change the culture of politics throughout our ward and in City Hall.”

Concerning whether the Taylor Street community should remain split among three aldermen (those of the 11th, 25th, and 28th Wards) as it is now, his answer is no. “To consolidate their powers, previous members of City Council have carved up communities into  smaller segments that are ultimately spread across multiple wards,” said Sigcho-Lopez. “In 2020, we will have the opportunity to redistrict the City Council, and I am committed to working to ensure every community in the ward is represented adequately and are not subject to unfair gerrymandering practices.” 

Keeping the 25th Ward affordable is one of his legislative priorities. “More than 10,000 people have been displaced from the ward since 2000,” he said, citing escalating housing costs. “Firstly, I will continue to be a strong advocate for lifting the statewide ban on rent control so that a much larger range of affordable housing initiatives are available to homeowners and renters alike. I will also fight for the full implementation of the Development for All ordinance, requiring 30% on-site affordable housing for all large-scale residential housing developments, and I will advocate for property tax exemptions for long-term homeowners.

“As one of the co-founders of the Lift the Ban coalition, I have been a leader of city-wide efforts to lift the statewide ban on rent control,” Sigcho-Lopez added. “To date, our coalition has worked with 13 wards across the city to pass referenda to lift the ban. At stake here is opening up more avenues of intervention to stabilize rents and reduce housing costs for renters and homeowners alike.” 

He also supports a curb or ban on the TIF program as currently used. “I believe that the City should declare a TIF surplus and restore the program to fulfill its original purpose: spurring economic development in blighted communities,” he said. “As such, I support the Back to Basics TIF ordinance as well as the Garza-Cardenas TIF surplus reform ordinance, which re-allocated surplus TIF funds to public schools and other public infrastructure projects.”

Sigcho-Lopez has specific ideas to clean up pollution from the closed coal plants in the area. “While the closing of coal plans is a clear victory for our environment, I am committed to moving away from diesel-fueled operations and moving toward green energy and green jobs,” he said. “I will seek to convert old industrial sites to parks and public green spaces where families can congregate. I also believe that some TIF money should be allocated towards fixing old lead service lines, as lead levels in our drinking water remains alarmingly high.”

Concerning crime, Sigcho-Lopez views it as a structural issue that can be addressed through a holistic approach aimed at creating healthier communities. “I would work toward providing vocational training, free college tuition for public universities and college, and personalized career counseling services,” he said. The candidate also supports installing community-driven solutions, including the Civilian Police Accountability Council and restorative justice initiatives. “We can work toward reducing crime by reducing unemployment and increasing opportunity,” he said.

One way Sigcho-Lopez plans to bring jobs to the ward is to ensure that developments such as the El Paseo path, developer Hilco’s proposed warehouse where the Crawford Power Plant was, Project 78 in the South Loop, and Roosevelt Square have a written Community Benefits Agreement that mandates hiring local employees and contractors. He also will support small business development in business corridors in Pilsen, Little Village, Chinatown, and the West Loop and oppose taxes such as the Special Service Area tax, which he said places an unfairly and disproportionately large tax burden on small businesses.

Sigcho-Lopez has not sought nor received support from Alderman Danny Solis and did not indicate whom he supports in the mayoral election, stating, “I am squarely focused on the election in the 25th Ward, as we have much work to do before April 2. I look forward to working with whoever is elected our new mayor.”

When asked what he would do to keep the City Council from being a rubber stamp for the mayor, or to keep the council from engaging in Council Wars as it did during the time of Mayor Harold Washington, Sigcho-Lopez said that is precisely the culture of politics in City Hall that his campaign wants to dismantle. “It is important to have a balanced council of independent voices, and the results of Feb. 26 are incredibly encouraging in this regard,” he said. “If elected, my foremost consideration will always be the interests of the residents of the 25th Ward. Moreover, since the struggle for affordable housing, good public education, and public safety are concerns shared by residents of many different wards, I look forward to working with the respective aldermen to pass legislation that addresses the concerns of our constituents.”

Some opponents of Sigcho-Lopez have accused his campaign of buying votes. He responded by saying that “any suggestions that anyone who is part of the campaign did anything improper or encouraged anything improper on or before election day are categorically false. We encourage a thorough investigation and only hope that its results are revealed as soon as possible so that these false rumors can finally be put to bed—as last week’s allegations of ‘vote buying’ at Barbara Jean Wright Courts have already been. We further ask that the Election Commission and any other interested parties assign election monitors to ensure that the election is conducted fairly and in accordance with every law. While the timing of these accusations by our opponents provokes suspicions, our campaign has always been squarely focused on engaging voters and elevating the issues that matter most to the community.” For more information, see www.sigchofor25.com.