Miguel DelValle is like Mayor Daley in only two ways. He is a veteran of city politics. He is a loyal Democrat. He is unlike Daley in every other way imaginable. He is even-tempered (unlike Braun), open (unlike Emanuel), democratic (unlike Chico), and from the people (unlike all of the above). When it all hits the fan, DelValle is the best candidate to be sitting in the driver's seat of City Hall, mostly because he will not do everything himself.
The 45th Ward race has become a classic in local politics. Words and lawsuits, and even bullets now are flying. Ward politics is tough, gritty, and the 45th Ward has been represented by an imperially-minded bully made for such nasty games, Pat Levar, for almost two decades.
Levar barrels through his ward like a medieval baron, physically picking on his serfs and eating everything in sight. He has made a a habit of using TIF funds set aside for schools and police protection to see to it that shady massage parlors, tattoo shops, pawn shops, and abortion clinics can go up in his working class ward. He sent his kids to private schools while the neighborhood schools starved for help. He rubber stamped everything the mayor sent him in City Council. He was a failure at keeping the streets up, but a master at selling zoning ordinances.
Levar's support was waning and so he decided to get out of the race due to health reasons. This left an open seat in the City Council and sent his opponents into overdrive. Most of these opponents were active community organizers and many had an open ear to the community's needs. Two in particular, John Garrido and John Arena promised increased democracy for a ward starving for it. Fearing the loss of their gravy train, the Democratic Machine set up an obscure union worker Marina Faz-Huppert to run in the ward. Her signatures were gathered at the last minute and many were signatures that appeared on the petitions of other candidates.
Faz-Huppert, however, has voted as recently as 2009 from a residence in Riverside. Her campaign literature until the last days of the campaign were mailed from a downtown office. Her ties to Saint Cornelius Church, a cornerstone in the community, were recent and fleeting. People saw right through this and, despite her concerted efforts to "reach out", she is seen as the machine candidate. She has spent almost a quarter million dollars of party money to send vacuous mailings daily to the voters of the ward and has been an expert at plopping signs throughout the ward. She will probably be in a run-off with one of the other candidates simply because of her machine ties and machine endorsements, but she will sink fast in the final round of voting.
John Garrido, an active Chicago Policeman and lawyer, has come out ahead as the best choice for change. He was a big vote-getter in the race for Cook County president and is a steady voice for democracy and debate in the community. Garrido is no rubber stamp for the machine or mayor and has an open ear to the community.
He has lived and worked in the 45th Ward for many years and has run a grass roots campaign that managed to find great traction despite the ward's many many years of corrupt autocracy by Levar. Garrido has fought the resulting cynicism and delivered a message of hope for the future of the 45th. He would see TIF finds go where they were intended. He will make sure the community is not left to crime by reassessing the organization of the police. He has promised a transparent aldermanic office and I can personally attest that he has the integrity and humility to see this through.
If what the news says comes down and Rahm Emanuel wins in the first round, it will be even more crucial to send an independent voice like Garrido's to City Hall.
See http://johngarrido.com/ to read up on the issues and see him in action around Jefferson Park.