Updated vote totals: 1,200 vote victory gives 45th Ward Alderman John Arena second term
by BRIAN NADIG
Only 30 votes separated John Arena and John Garrido in the 2011 aldermanic runoff election in the 45th Ward, but in 2015 Arena won the runoff by about 1,200 votes.
Unofficial returns in the April 7 runoff have Arena with 8,333 votes (53.78 percent), and Garrido with 7,163 votes (46.22 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.
Voter turnout in the ward was up by about 2,500 in the runoff compared to the municipal election in February. The first mayoral runoff in the city’s history, which resulted in Mayor Rahm Emanuel defeating Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, may have fueled the increase in voter turnout.
The current makeup of the ward differs from 2011, as the citywide remapping resulted in Mayfair, Indian Woods, Forest Glen and a portion of Gladstone Park being removed. The ward now includes Independence Park and a greater share of Old Irving Park, and by a wide margin Arena won the precincts in those two communities.
Arena campaign manager David Miranda said that Arena looks forward to bringing more positive change to the ward and to working with Emanuel. “He 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, while Garrido said that a vibrant 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 top 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 the 2011 and 2015 races hurt his changes in the traditionally Democratic ward. In the 2010 primary election Garrido made an unsuccessful bid to win the Republican nomination for Cook County board president.
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 for wrongdoing.
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 local agencies, including those chambers of commerce which receive city funds.
Arena, who once served as the vice president of the Portage Park Neighborhood Association, also is the 45th Ward Democratic committeeman and is a member of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, which is often at odds with Emanuel on key issues. Garrido, who is a Chicago police lieutenant, is a community member of the Hitch School Local School Council.