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McKinley Park

List To Replace Southwest Side Ald. George Cardenas Includes Former Chief Of Staff

Ald. George Cardenas is stepping down at the end of the month. Check out the bios of the four people who applied to be appointed to replace him.

Ald. George A. Cardenas (12th) speaks during the groundbreaking event for the new field and facility at Farragut Career Academy in Little Village on May 17, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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MCKINLEY PARK — Four people are vying to be appointed to retiring Ald. George Cardenas’ 12th Ward seat in City Council, including his former chief of staff and a board member of the McKinley Park Development Council.

Cardenas, who was elected to the 12th Ward seat in 2003 and serves as the Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s deputy floor leader, will resign Nov. 30. His resignation has been planned for months. Cardenas won his primary bid for the Cook County Board of Review and was elected to the seat after running unopposed in the general election this month.

Here are the candidates who applied to be appointed 12th Ward alderperson:

  • Anabel Abarca 
  • Robert Abeldano 
  • Lydia Arroyo  
  • Anthony Wojtal

Abarca, a real estate attorney, entered the race to replace Cardenas in September. She served as the alderman’s chief of staff from 2012-2016. She’s also announced she’s running for the 12th Ward seat in the 2023 election.

Abeldano is an account executive currently working with Unison Site Management, according to his CV. He also has volunteered with the Chicago Park District as a youth sports coach, and with Christopher House and Family Focus Inc.

Arroyo previously was chairperson of the Southwest Environmental Alliance, according to her resume. She also is a council member for Blessed Sacrament Parish in McKinley Park.

Wojtal is a budget manager for Chicago Public Schools. He’s worked for the school district’s budget office since 2013 and is a board member and treasurer of the McKinley Park Development Council, according to his resume.

Candidates’ resumes can be found here. The person appointed will serve until an alderman is elected in the 2023 election.

The 12th Ward covers most of McKinley Park and Brighton Park.

Shortly after receiving Cardenas’ resignation letter, Lightfoot announced the process to find his temporary replacement. Applicants had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to throw their hat in the ring for the position.

The Mayor has a search committee to review applications, interview candidates and make a recommendation that would go before City Council for approval. It’s the same system used to fill vacancies left by convicted former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th), former Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) and former Ald. Michelle Smith (43rd).

In those cases, Lightfoot picked United Airline executive Nicole Lee to lead the 11th Ward, Monique Scott, sister of the former alderman, to lead the 24th Ward, and Timothy Knudsen, former chair of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, to lead the 43rd Ward.

Once confirmed, the candidate would serve until the next City Council election in 2023.

Cardenas previously gave his endorsement to Abarca, who announced her campaign for the City Council seat in September.

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