HUMBOLDT PARK — Popular Chicago DJ and producer Julian “Jumpin” Perez has leaped into the race for 26th Ward alderman, signaling a possible challenge for Ald. Roberto Maldonado, who has held the seat for more than a decade.
Perez filed a D-1 statement of organization for “Friends of Julian Perez” on Tuesday, describing the intent of his campaign committee as one “to support the candidacy of Julian Perez for the office of Alderman of 26th Ward of the City of Chicago, Illinois.”
The contact listed as the campaign committee’s chair and treasurer confirmed via text message to The Daily Line on Wednesday the 26th Ward aldermanic hopeful is area DJ Julian “Jumpin” Perez. Illinois State Board of Elections documents show the committee was created on April 5.
In his Twitter bio, Perez is described as “one of the most recognized and respected DJs in the Chicagoland area. Heard by millions on 104.3 Jams, B96, KISS FM, WBMX, WGCI, V103.”
Perez didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) has filed at least two measures honoring Perez for his work as a DJ. One resolution (R2018-908) that passed in 2018 extended congratulations to Perez “on 25th anniversary as disc jockey/mixmaster on Chicago radio” and a proposed ordinance (O2021-2850) aimed to designate 6100 to 6300 West Fullerton Avenue as “Julian ‘Jumpin’ Perez Way.”
Following a measure approved in 2017, living Chicagoans are no longer eligible to have Chicago streets named in their honor, DNAinfo reported at the time.
Perez also founded the Julian Jumpin Perez Foundation in 2019 to help “fulfill his dream of giving back to the communities that have supported, and loved him throughout his career,” according to the foundation’s website. According to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s Charitable Trust Database Search, Perez’s foundation had $1,890 in assets at the close of 2020.
Perez, who is Cuban, made headlines in 2019 for mocking Mexican immigrants from the stage at Festival Cubano. He asked the crowd, “What’s the best way to get Mexicans to run?” and followed up with “say ICE.” The remark left many in attendance and other Chicago Latinos in disbelief. Organizers of My House Music Festival in Pilsen, home to a large Mexican population, dropped Perez from their lineup following the incident. He later apologized.
The next citywide mayoral and aldermanic election is set for Feb. 28, 2023. All 50 City Council members are up for re-election.
Maldonado has served as alderman since 2009 when he was appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley to fill the seat of retiring Ald. Billy Ocasio.
Maldonado defeated challengers in the 2011, 2015 and 2019 elections.
Maldonado narrowly avoided a runoff in 2019, winning 50.6 percent of the votes against challengers Theresa Siaw and David Herrera. Siaw came closest to Maldonado with 28.2 percent of the vote.
In 2020, Maldonado lost his 26th Ward Democratic Committeeman seat to Angee Gonzalez Rodriguez, potentially signaling a challenge in future elections.
Maldonado has so far fended off speculation he doesn’t plan to run for re-election in 2023 and wasn’t available for comment Thursday.
Maldonado listed his $2.4 million Humboldt Park house for sale last month, further fueling speculation he doesn’t plan to run again. But he denied the rumor in an interview with Block Club, saying there’s more he wants to do in the 26th Ward, including increasing affordable housing in the area.
The real estate listing also highlighted the murky relationship between Maldonado’s personal real estate dealings and his political policies. Maldonado has long pushed for anti-gentrification legislation to curb gentrification along The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail, but now he stands to profit from the trail — for the second time.
Recent campaign finance records show that Maldonado began the second quarter of this year with $23,608.20 on hand in his “Citizens for Maldonado” campaign chest and $56,468.01 in his “26th Ward Democratic Organization” account, which was set up to support is work as committeeman though he no longer holds that role.
During the first three months of the year, “Citizens for Maldonado” received $6,250 in donations, including $2,500 from the Chicago Teachers Union Political Action Committee. The CTU PAC made another $2,500 donation to Maldonado’s campaign on April 13, records show.
Maldonado’s “26th Ward Democratic Organization” fund brought in $61,250 in donations from January through March with the largest donations of $5,000 each coming from Architect Juan Moreno and investment banking firm Icon Capital Group Inc. Moreno is the architect of Humboldt Park Health’s new 45,500-square-foot fitness center set to be built at 2933 W. Division St. in the 26th Ward.
Newly announced mayoral candidate Willie Wilson also donated $3,000 to Maldonado’s committeeman campaign chest in February.
During the first three months of this year, Maldonado spent $6,000 on “consulting” and more than $7,200 on “social media management,” records show.
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