45th Ward Alderman John Arena wins re-election, defeating John Garrido in rematch of 2011 runoff


Only 30 votes separated John Arena and John Garrido in the 2011 aldermanic runoff election, but in 2015 Arena won the runoff by about 1,000 votes.

With about 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Arena had 7,985 votes (53.47 percent), and Garrido had 6,950 votes (46.53 percent). In the Feb. 24 municipal election, Arena had 45.5 percent of the vote, compared to 39.7 percent for Garrido, 13.3 percent for Michelle Baert and 1.6 percent for Michael Diaz.

Arena campaign manager David Miranda said that Arena looks forward to bringing more positive change to the ward and to working with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who won re-election Tuesday night. “(The alderman) looks forward to working with all the people of the ward, including John Garrido, in order to move things forward and to get past this divisive election,” Miranda said.

Garrido said Tuesday night that he has no regrets about his campaign and that he plans to continue to be active in the community. “We had a 100 percent volunteer team. I’m proud of what we accomplished We didn’t have as many resources and money compared to them. I plan to continue to work with residents and with the alderman, ” Garrido said.

The candidates differed on several issues, including the role which density should play in revitalizing the ward’s business districts. Arena said that denser residential development is needed near the business districts in order to attract more retailers to the area, while Garrido said that a vibrant commercial district can happen without high density, pointing to nearby Edison Park.

The race included large sums of money spent by political action committees on both sides, but the biggest spender was the Service Employees International Union Illinois Council. The SEIU sent out mailers describing Garrido as a “Tea Party” Republican, and Garrido said that while he is an independent, those mailers in both the 2011 and 2015 races hurt his changes in the traditionally Democratic ward.

At a debate last month, Arena charged that Garrido participated in a vote-buying scheme in which voters were offered 10 percent discounts to local businesses if they showed their voting receipt from the municipal election and that offering anything of monetary value constituted a felony. Garrido said the promotion was removed from his Facebook page before any discounts were given and that he is not under investigation.

Also at the debate Garrido charged that Arena was combative, citing a newspaper headline in which the alderman was at odds with a park advisory council. Arena said that as alderman he must demand “the best” from agencies which spend tax dollars, including chambers of commerce.