Ald. Gilbert Villegas is heading to a runoff with challenger Lori Torres Whitt after failing to land 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago/Provided

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) is poised to enter a runoff with challenger Lori Torres Whitt after failing to land 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election.

With all 27 precincts reporting Tuesday night, the incumbent held 46 percent of the vote to Torres Whitt’s 28 percent.

Challenger David Herrera was in 3rd with 16 percent of the vote. Candidate Jacqueline Baez was in 4th with 7 percent.

Herrera said in an interview he’s optimistic outstanding mail ballots could land him in the runoff when they’re all counted.

Historically located on the Northwest Side, the 36th Ward was dramatically redrawn in last year’s remap process, extending it a mammoth 8-miles from Montclare down Grand Avenue all the way to Ukrainian Village.

The new 36th Ward will stretch from Montclare on the Northwest Side all the way down Grand Avenue to Ukrainian Village and West Town Credit: Provided/2022 Chicago Ward Map Collection

Villegas is seeking his third term in Chicago’s City Council. A Dunning resident, he’s spearheaded initiatives in City Council to create a universal basic income program and to reinstate its Office of Veterans Affairs 

He’s also endorsed a plan to reopen the closed 13th Police District in West Town, which was closed in 2012 as part of a citywide consolidation of police resources.

“After the results today, I am inspired by our democratic process and by the energy and commitment of voters across our ward,” Villegas said in a statement. “Over these next five weeks, I look forward to making the case to voters across the 36th Ward for my re-election to serve as their alderman.”

Villegas unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year in the newly created Illinois 3rd District, losing to state Rep. Delia Ramirez. He also served as Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s one-time floor leader, a position he quit in early 2021.

A Humboldt Park resident, Torres Whitt has been a Chicago Public Schools teacher for the past 20 years. She currently works as a Spanish teacher at Monroe Elementary in Logan Square.

Torres Whitt said she felt “great” Tuesday night and that her campaign had “momentum” on its side going into the runoff.

“We are in a place right now where every conversation I’ve had has been positive, and every voter I’ve spoken to is ready for change,” she said. “Those who voted for David and Jackie, they are ready for change as well.”

Both candidates have received high profile endorsements in recent months.

Torres Whitt is backed by the Chicago Teachers Union, United Working Families and mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson, among other groups and officials.

Villegas has the support of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, mayoral candidate and U.S. Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia, the Chicago Federation of Labor and others.

Heading into the April 4 runoff election, Villegas’ campaign fund has about $363,500 on hand. Torres Whitt has around $200,500.

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