Illinois 3rd Congressional District leading candidates ready for close race in Primary election

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In less than two weeks, voters will be deciding who to send the Congress in the newly redrawn 3rd District. It was created specifically to provide a Latino plurality district.

The new district now stretches west from Chicago into DuPage County and up to Elgin.

Here are the two leading candidates in the race and what they hope to bring to Congress.

This is a race that pits a sitting Chicago alderman against a sitting state representative from the city, each trying to balance their progressive credentials with the need to appeal to typically more conservative DuPage County voters out in the western part of the new district.

State Rep Delia Ramirez was first elected to office in 2018 and is the youngest member of the House leadership team at 39 years old. She comes from a background in community development and social services.

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Gilbert Villegas has been a Chicago alderman since 2015 but the 51-year-old Marine and former union truck driver also has a background in capital development.

The two are in a close race for the new 3rd District congressional seat.

Villegas is touting himself as a pragmatic progressive.

"Pragmatism is important in D.C. right now," he said. "What you're seeing is extremes on both sides that are just entrenched, locked in under issues. And you've got to have that ability to cross the aisle and try to get wins."

Ramirez said she has worked across the aisle in Springfield and would do so in Congress.

"I also believe that we need someone that understands community development, how it works at the local level, how it works at the state level, how it works at the federal level," Ramirez said.

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Ramirez touts her leadership to pass the elected school board for Chicago, as well as to expand access to health care and provide rental mortgage assistance to Illinoisans.

Villegas points to his leadership helping add two additional Latino seats to the city council in the remap, passing a capital bill in the city for the first time in 30 years, and leading the way to bring outdoor dining to Chicago when the pandemic hit.

Ramirez has been endorsed by Chuy Garcia and Bernie Sanders.

She says this race will come down to one thing: "What kind of democrat, a proven leader or a status quo establishment person, a lobbyist in DC."

Villegas accuses his opponent of being soft on crime.

"Her positions are too extreme. She wants to defund the police, and really not support public safety," he said.

Two other Democrats are running in the June 28 Primary are Juan Aguirre, a nurse and health center director, and Iyman Chehade, a teacher.
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