EAST SIDE — Peter Chico will take over for retiring Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza as 10th Ward alderperson after defeating challenger Ana Guajardo in Tuesday’s runoff election.
With all 25 precincts reporting Tuesday night, Chico held 59.1 percent of the vote to Guajardo’s 40.9 percent. Chico will represent a ward that’s a focal point of activism as its residents fight to address environmental inequities and the impacts of deindustrialization.
“To those of you who voted for me — and there were a lot — thank you. I will work hard for you every day,” Chico said during his victory speech Tuesday at Crow Bar, 4001 E. 106th St. in East Side. “To those of you who didn’t vote for me, I will be your alderman too, and I will work with you every single day.”
A resident of Hegewisch, Chico is a police officer working in the South Chicago (4th) District and a community representative on George Washington High School’s local school council. He’s the cousin of Gery Chico, a former Chicago Board of Education president and two-time mayoral candidate, and the grandson of late U.S. Steel South Works union leader John Chico.
“Our name is our name, and we are proud of that,” Peter Chico said to a jovial crowd of at least 150 at a smoke-filled Crow Bar.
Chico plans to take on “so much work to include our friends in Altgeld Gardens into the 10th Ward,” he said. The public housing complex on the Far South Side was drawn into the new ward map that will soon go into effect.
Also among Chico’s immediate priorities is economic development, so ward residents have “options [for] spending their money here in the 10th Ward [and] not going to Indiana,” he said. He also plans to use the 10th Ward office as a “connector” between city services and residents on issues like mental health, he said.
Chico’s ability to effectively marshal city services will be crucial, said Sylvia Ortega, a Chico voter and organizer with the Bush Homeowners and Tenants Association. He’s already pulled strings with the city to help fix a chunk of asphalt in her home neighborhood that went unrepaired for two years, Ortega said.
“He’s already helped us a lot more than the current alderman,” said Ortega, who said she helped with Sadlowski Garza’s first campaign in 2015. “… This guy, two days after I met him and met with some of his workers, he got it done.”
Southeast Side native Jordan Gomez said he hopes Chico will collaborate with Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson on economic policies that will draw more Chicagoans to the 10th Ward.
“I would like [Chico] to support more small businesses,” Gomez said. “Small business is a big part of the neighborhood … and I hope he invests more and has people come more to the Southeast Side. We’re like the forgotten part of the South Side, you know?”
Chico will be sworn in at City Council on May 15.
Chico and Guajardo defeated three other challengers in the Feb. 28 election to advance to Tuesday’s runoff. Chico won 40.5 percent of the vote in February, while Guajardo received 26.5 percent.
Both candidates said public safety is the ward’s most pressing issue ahead of Tuesday’s election.
Guajardo lives in South Deering and co-founded the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos or the United Workers’ Center in East Side, an organization that advocates for immigrant workers’ rights and needs.
The 10th Ward includes East Side and Hegewisch and parts of South Chicago, South Deering and Riverdale.
Sadlowski Garza has served as 10th Ward alderperson since 2015, when she defeated incumbent Ald. John Pope by only 20 votes to become the first woman to represent the ward. She announced in September she would not seek a third term and endorsed Guajardo to replace her.