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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Lone Challenger To Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa Falls 5 Signatures Short, Gets Booted From 35th Ward Ballot

Hundreds of petition signatures for challenger Richard Mpistolarides were invalidated, leaving him just short of the requirement, elections officials ruled Friday.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) speaks at a City Council meeting where alderpeople voted on the 2022 budget, on Oct. 27, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) is likely to secure a third term in City Council after his only challenger was removed from the ballot.

Richard Mpistolarides, a Northwest Side native and improv performer with a bachelor’s degree in public policy from the University of Illinois Chicago, did not have enough valid signatures to appear on the 35th Ward ballot, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners determined Friday.

Mpistolarides was scrubbed from the ballot because one of his circulators, John Gorges, listed his address in the 35th Ward even though he has not lived there in two years, according to the ruling. His actual address falls in the 33rd Ward, the hearing officer found.

The false address meant all 306 signatures Gorges collected were invalidated. That left Mpistolarides with 468 valid signatures, five below the minimum requirement of 473, according to the ruling.

The ruling leaves incumbent Ramirez-Rosa as the only candidate running to represent the 35th Ward, which includes parts of Logan Square, Avondale, Hermosa, Irving Park, and Albany Park.

Mpistolarides said in a statement 300 of his signatures were wrongly dismissed. He’s filed an appeal he feels “very optimistic” about, he said.

Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) at a press conference May 12, 2022.

Ramirez-Rosa made waves when he handily beat machine-backed former Ald. Rey Colon in 2015, becoming the only challenger to knock off an incumbent alderman in that election cycle.

Then 26, Ramirez-Rosa was one of the youngest alderpeople and first openly gay Latino to be elected to City Council.

As alderman, Ramirez-Rosa has championed affordable housing projects and anti-gentrification measures across the ward, including the Lucy Gonzalez Parsons Apartments complex next to the Logan Square Blue Line station.

Ramirez-Rosa has also long touted his community-driven zoning process, which he launched to democratize zoning and development issues in the gentrifying ward.

The alderman has a long-standing feud with controversial landlord Mark Fishman, the most well-known property investor in Logan Square.

Ramirez-Rosa has for years blasted Fishman for driving out longtime residents and accelerating gentrification in Logan Square, and even campaigned in 2015 on ending Fishman’s so-called reign. That battle came to a head in 2019 when Fishman sued Ramirez-Rosa over unpaid rent for the alderman’s ward office, which Ramirez-Rosa rented from Fishman.

Fishman donated around $100,000 to challenger Amanda Yu Dieterich in the 2019 election in an effort to oust his longtime foe, but Ramirez-Rosa ended up beating Yu Dieterich, winning 59 percent of the vote over Yu Dieterich’s 41 percent.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) speaks before Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson announces his run for mayor at Seward Park on Oct. 27, 2022.

Ramirez-Rosa is chair of City Council’s Democratic Socialist Caucus and a member of the LGTBQ, Latino and Progressive caucuses.

In a statement on his campaign website, the alderman said he’s worked with the community to ensure that “the ward’s residents and families — not special interests — come first,” bringing key change to the ward, such as more affordable housing, infrastructure upgrades and anti-gentrification legislation.

“While public policy experts and organizations have recognized our 35th Ward’s efforts as a model of good governance, our local efforts have also drawn the ire of moneyed interests who have an interest at odds with the public good,” he said.

“An opponent has filed to run. But I’m confident the residents of our ward want to continue our model of good governance.”

With the ruling, Ramirez-Rosa joins several alderpeople running unopposed in February.

Alds. Brian Hopkins (2nd), Pat Dowell (3rd), Greg Mitchell (7th), David Moore (17th), Walter Burnett (27th), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Brendan Reilly (42nd) and Matt Martin (47th) also have no challengers.

The election is Feb. 28.

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