Flores collects signatures for possible mayor run

September 18, 2010 (CHICAGO) Former 1st Ward Ald. Manny Flores joined a growing list of Latinos to express interest, and there's a certain excitement that a Latino could become the city's next mayor.

"I'm going to have another petition in my hand that says Manny Flores for mayor," said current1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno Saturday.

Flores, Illinois Commerce Commission chairman, is the latest to consider a possible run for Chicago's mayor.

"What we're doing is circulating petitions, and that's what this meeting was about," Flores said.

Although Flores did not officially declare his candidacy, he met Saturday morning with 250 volunteers working with the Alderman Moreno re-election campaign to begin gathering the 12,500 signatures Flores needs to get on the February ballot.

Flores could join other prominent Latino politicians, like United States Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who has acknowledged interest, and Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle, who's said he's running.

"Manny transcends different groups. He can speak to all kinds of people, and that's what we need. I think he's the candidate," Moreno said.

There is a growing field of those clamoring for the job current Mayor Richard Daley announced earlier this month he won't try to keep. So, Saturday afternoon, many in the Latino community rallied to get the vote out in support of Democrats and Latino candidates running for office in the upcoming general election in November.

"Shame on us in 43 days if we don't produce because we can make the difference. We in this community can make the difference," said County Cmsr. Joe Berrios, a candidate for Cook County Assessor.

According to the group Latinos for Democrats, Illinois has a Latino population of more than 2 million, and Cook County alone represents almost 24 percent of its population, making Latino voters a strong economic and political force.

They are a force that Gilbert Villegas of the Hispanic Political Action Committee of Illinois says can ensure the success of the Democratic ticket in November and beyond.

"Obviously, we'd like to see a Latino as the mayor of the city of Chicago. There are a lot of good candidates running. A lot of them have the potential," Villegas said.

Another possible mayoral candidate is U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley. He says he's thinking about running for mayor but will hopefully win his re-election bid.

Quigley represents the 5th Congressional District. He won a special election for the term vacated by now-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Despite all the excitement, organizers of Saturday's event say, voters should just focus on the November election.

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