Daley: Maldonado to fill 26th Ward seat

July 27, 2009 (CHICAGO) On Monday Daley named Cook County Commissioner Robert Maldonado the new alderman in the 26th Ward. He will replace Billy Ocasio.

Ocasio recently resigned to join the staff of Governor Pat Quinn- and had a few other people in mind for the job, including his wife, Veronica. It's the first time Daley has not honored the wishes of a departing alderman.

"I picked him because of experience, his commitment to working with people and his private sector as well as public sector combination," said Daley

Maldonado is a mortgage banker who was born in New York City, grew up in Puerto Rico and moved to Chicago at the age of 27. He was elected to the Cook County Board in 1994 and represents the 8th District, which is centered around Humboldt Park on the city's West Side. He also serves as the 26th Ward's Democratic committeeman.

Ocasio first recommended the Reverend Wilfredo Dejesus as a replacement. But a residency problem and controversy surrounding the minister's views on homosexuality caused Ocasio to withdraw the recommendation.

In his last county board meeting, Maldonado voted to repeal half of last year's one-cent increase in the Cook County sales tax. His resignation leaves the board's anti-tax majority one vote short of the 14 necessary to override Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's veto.

"By the time the vote comes up to sustain the repeal that the replacement will come and that member will vote in favor of the repeal," said Maldonado.

Maldonado's county board seat will be filled by the Cook County Regular Democratic Party. Committee members whose wards include part of Maldonado's 8th district will vote to fill the empty seat on the county board.

The replacement votes usually happen fairly soon after a vacancy occurs- in a few weeks at the most.

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