The Race for the 12th Ward

February 15, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The 12th Ward covers several heavily Latino neighborhoods on the Southwest Side. It's considered the smallest ward in Chicago because the Cook County jail population is included in its population.

It is a jagged narrow ward that includes parts of Little Village, Brighton Park, Back of the Yards and McKinley Park.

The 12th ward has a predominantly Hispanic population with African-American, Polish, Lithuianian and Asian American constituents.

Alderman George Cardenas who has been an ally of Mayor Daley is running for a third term.

"Some of the things that we've done in the community have been done because of a strong voice in the council...someone with the ability to cross he aisle and work with the mayor and other council members," said Cardenas.

Four other candidates remain on the ballot following several challenges.

Alberto Bocanegra Jr. was behind some of the challenges. He is a businessman with Green Party support who has previously run for alderman.

"The reason I'm running is because our community needs an alderman who is transparent and that's accessible to the constituents," said Bocanegra.

Jesus Jesse Iniguez survived challenges by both Bocanegra and Cardenas. He is a 29- year-old businessman running for a second time for as alderman. He is promising leadership from a new generation's perspective.

"We come from a different background. We don't come from patronage. We come a background of living in the community, getting an education coming back and serving our community," said Iniguez.

Jose Guereca ran for Republican committeeman four years ago and lost. But he considers himself a Democrat. He is a truck driver with the city's Streets and Sanitation department and father of three.

"I'm out there everyday asking people for support so i should come back at least two times a year to ask them how can support them with city services. give back to the be involved in the community," said Guereca.

Maria "Chula" Ortiz is running her campaign from her home. The working grandmother has never run for political office. She survived a challenge from Bocanegra for using the name Chula, which means pretty in Spanish.

"I have always been a public servant since I was a teenager," said Ortiz.

The candidates agree on public safety as a primary concern. Several also want to see sewer improvements in neighborhoods with repeat flooding. Challengers to Alderman Cardenas also want to empower residents to vote. The ward traditionally has a low voter turnout.

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