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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Race To Unseat Solis Becomes More Crowded As Former State Rep Candidate, Former CPS Principal Jump In

Alex Acevedo and Aida Flores join a growing list of candidates running for 25th Ward alderman.

Alex Acevedo, left, Aida Flores, right, are among the five candidates running to unseat Ald. Danny Solis (25th).
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PILSEN — Former candidate for State Rep. Alex Acevedo and former Chicago Public School teacher and principal Aida Flores have entered the race for alderman of the 25th Ward on the city’s Southwest Side — a seat long held by veteran Ald. Danny Solis.

Acevedo and Flores join a growing list of candidates vying to unseat the longtime alderman.

Earlier this summer, former teacher Hilario Dominguez, Pilsen Alliance Executive Director Byron Sigcho and data scientist Troy Hernandez announced their plans to run for the city council seat.

Hilario Dominguez, far left, Troy Hernandez, center left, Byron Sigcho, center right, are vying to unseat longtime alderman Danny Solis (25th).

Tom Bowen, a spokesman for Solis, declined to confirm the alderman is running again but said Solis is “focused on continuing to strengthen all the communities of the 25th Ward.”

“Given the enormous change coming to Chicago’s leadership, [Solis] looks forward to joining the political discussion at the appropriate time and engaging with residents on the direction of Chicago’s future,” Bowen said.

But according to a source close to the campaign, Solis plans to run for re-election and make an official announcement in the fall.

It’s likely that at least six candidates will run for the 25th Ward seat. Here’s a look at Acevedo and Flores’ platforms, two candidates who have recently announced plans to run.

Alex Acevedo

Born and raised Pilsen in Pilsen, Acevedo — the son of longtime Illinois State Rep. Edward “Eddie” Acevedo Sr. — previously campaigned for Solis. Though he said he has a “working relationship” with the alderman, he said he has “actively called him out on things that he has done wrong…or failed to do.”

“He has failed our communities on numerous occasions,” Acevedo said, pointing to the displacement of 10,000 families in Pilsen, and small businesses being priced out of the gentrifying neighborhood.

A former pediatric nurse, Acevedo, 32, now works as a community relations manager at Oak Street Health, a primary care clinic serving seniors on Medicare. Acevedo said he wants his 19-month-old daughter to thrive in the neighborhood he loves. For that to happen, Pilsen needs a new leader, he said. 

“I believe we deserve better, we need a 21st Century alderman to take our ward to the next step, to make our communities better, to rebuild our communities as [they] should be,” Acevedo said.

This isn’t Acevedo’s first foray into politics. In 2016, Acevedo, ran to win his father’s 2nd Illinois House District seat, but lost the close primary race to Theresa Mah. Solis publicly supported Acevedo in that race, but the loss led to some bad blood.

After receiving a profanity-laced voicemail from Eddie Acevedo Jr. — Alex’s brother — Solis made the voicemail public. In the end, Alex apologized to Solis on his brother’s behalf, calling Solis a “longtime friend of our family.”

Now, Acevedo is eyeing the council seat long held by Solis.
At the core of his campaign, Acevedo aims to focus on creating quality neighborhood schools and introducing wraparound services aimed at “tackling inequalities and address achievement gaps.”

The Pilsen native envisions redeveloping the land around the Fisk Crawford Plant into green space as well as an incubator space, similar to 1871 in Merchandise Mart, to cultivate the talent, startups and small businesses in the Pilsen neighborhood.

Acevedo also looks to tackle public safety, access to equitable health care and environmental justice in the ward. 

“As elected officials, we should hold [city council] accountable to the needs of the people,” Acevedo said emphasizing that Solis has failed at “being an advocate for [the 25th] ward.”

The Whitney Young graduate said he has always been a problem solver and an advocate for the people, pointing to his 10-year nursing experience as a prime example.

The ward deserves “someone who is reliable, accountable and responsive to the needs of the people,” Acevedo said. 

Two years ago, Acevedo launched Pilsen’s Neighborhood Watch Coalition. The group has worked to engage Pilsen residents, community leaders, law enforcement, churches and non-profits to make Pilsen a safer place. He’s also led an effort providing mobile pop-up clinics throughout the ward to provide accessible health care for the elderly. 

Acevedo currently serves as a community representative on the local school council at Joseph Jungman Elementary School, 1746 S. Miller St., and is an active member of nonprofits Community Health Initiative Programs and Pilsen Athletic Conference, which serve as advisory groups for Harrison and Dvorak Parks.

Acevedo will host a campaign kick-off/birthday event from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 9 at Vintage Restaurant, 1449 W. Taylor St. 

Aida Flores

Also a born and bred Pilsen resident, Flores said her run for alderman was partially rooted in professional frustrations she experienced trying to help CPS neighborhood schools make improvements while dealing with severe budget cuts.

The 32-year-old, who currently works as a leadership and development consultant, previously worked as a principal at Hernandez Middle School on the Southwest Side, an assistant principal at Kelvyn Park High School and as a history teacher at her alma mater Benito Juarez High School.

But Flores’ frustrations didn’t just end in the classroom — she believes career politicians in Chicago lose touch with the neighborhoods they serve.

“We need to stop electing politicians,” Flores said. “We need to stop electing politicians in training, and we need to start electing public servants.”

“We need new leadership that has passion, experience in public service, and innovation to change the way things are done in Chicago, and more importantly, the way things are done in our ward,” Flores added.

Flores described as her campaign as “grassroots,” and hopes to engage people who have never taken an interest in politics.

The Harvard and Georgetown graduate is putting her focus on education. Flores said she is looking for ways to assist schools to be “more robust,” by providing more resources so they can become Blue Ribbon Schools. She also wants to introduce after school programming and wrap-around services that don’t overburden teachers and administrators.

While education is at the forefront of her campaign, Flores believes having a strong educational system is interconnected with the success of the community. 

Flores looks to address public safety and community development through  “compassionate leadership.”

For Flores, the idea of “compassionate leadership” was informed from an early age. The Bill Gates Millennium Scholar became a mother at the age of 14, and she was determined to set an example as a strong mother and role model for her daughter.

Flores said City Council needs more women in public office who come from different backgrounds.

“We need different experiences at the table to ensure that we are no longer making the same decisions that we continue to make, and to change the way the city operates,” she 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.

In 2015, Solis narrowly avoided a runoff, capturing 51 percent of the vote. His closest challenger, Sigcho, garnered 18.6 percent of the vote. He was about 70 votes shy of forcing Solis into a runoff. 

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