PILSEN — Longtime organizer and educator Byron Sigcho is running for alderman in the 25th Ward on the city’s Southwest Side — a seat long held by veteran Ald. Danny Solis.
“It’s time that we have an advocate, a strong leader and a true representative of the residents and small businesses in the ward,” said Sigcho, who also ran to unseat Solis in 2015.
Sigcho, 35, is the second candidate to announce his run for the 25th Ward seat. Earlier this month, Hilario Dominguez — a former teacher and organizer — announced he would be running to unseat Solis. Troy Hernandez, who ran in 2015, is also considering a run, he told Block Club this week.
Thomas Bowen, a spokesman for Solis declined to say whether the alderman would seek re-election.
“Alderman Solis is focused on continuing to strengthen all the communities of the 25th Ward by creating good-paying jobs, keeping residents safe, and improving our public schools,” Bowen said in a statement.
“There will be a time and place for politics, but for now, he’s focused on doing the job he was elected to do,” Bowen added.
But according to a source close to the campaign, Solis will be running for re-election.
Sigcho, who began a leave of absence from Pilsen Alliance earlier this month in order to focus on the campaign, said he has spent time talking with residents across the wards including in Pilsen, West Loop, Little Italy, Chinatown and McKinley Park. A lot of residents have raised similar concerns of displacement of families and small businesses across the ward, he said.
“Development has not been equitable [under Solis],” Sigcho said. “We need a different and more equitable vision for the neighborhood.”
Sigcho accused Solis for siding with developers and private interests groups rather than residents and small businesses in the ward.
“We have a 21 percent affordable housing ordinance in Pilsen … but these developers are not being held accountable,” Sigcho said. “We have yet to see a development that includes 21 percent affordable housing.”
“We need fairness, transparency, and equity…that’s not what he has done,” Sigcho said. “This election is about preserving the fabric of our communities.”
Sigcho aims to prioritize education and address displacement in gentrifying Pilsen by increasing resources to public schools, small businesses and families, as well as creating a more democratic zoning process.
Sigcho immigrated to the United States from Ecuador when he was 17. He calls Pilsen home and has been a vocal advocate against gentrification. He has helped families facing eviction through his work at Pilsen Alliance, as well as advocating for the equal education across the city.
This will be the second time Sigcho will face off against Solis.
Sigcho was among the five challengers who ran to unseat Solis in 2015, but the longtime alderman narrowly avoided a runoff, capturing 51 percent of the vote. Sigcho was his closest challenger, garnering 18.6 percent of the vote. He was about 70 votes shy of forcing Solis into a runoff.
In addition to Sigcho, Solis was challenged by CPS teacher Ed Hershey, activist Jorge Mujica and financial adviser Roberto “Beto” Montano, his former chief of staff, in the 2015 race.
“We got 18 percent of the vote with little resources, while [Ald. Solis] had a war chest,” Sigcho said.
“We are a grassroots effort and we will continue to promote not accepting money from developers,” he said.
The 25th Ward includes parts of Pilsen, Chinatown, the West Loop, Little Italy and Heart of Chicago.
Solis, chairman of the city’s Committee on Zoning, was appointed to the 25th Ward seat in 1996 by former Mayor Richard Daley and formerly chaired City Council’s Hispanic Caucus.
Sigcho will host a campaign kick off from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8 at La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St. in Pilsen.
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