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Only in Chicago

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 19, 2007 2:50PM

2007_1_pilsen.jpgMuch has been made about this being the year of change here in Chicago. In November Democrats took control of Congress, harnessing voter dissatisfaction and promising change. And while the main attractions on the reform ticket, Tony Peraica and Jesse Jackson Jr either lost or decided not to run, many pundits are predicting that as much as 30% of the City Council could change in late February. It seems that some candidates believe in miracles, though, with four convicted felons running for the seats they lost years ago. Virgil Jones (15th) and Percy Giles (37th), were convicted of bribery or extortion during the Silver Shovel investigation of 1996, and spent time in federal prison. Wallace Davis Jr (2nd) also spent time in federal prison, convicted in Operation Incubator for selling votes. (You can read Carol Marin's compelling column about her conversations with him here). One other candidate this year, Ambrosio Medrano (25th), also convicted in Silver Shovel, is trying to regain his seat this year too.

The 25th Ward looks like it will have a crowded ballot this year, with as many as 7 potential candidates on the ballot. Medrano is running for "reelection" to his old seat against Danny Solis, who was appointed by Daley in 1996 after Medrano plead guilty. Like most Chicago wards, affordable housing and the pressures of rising property taxes are issues in this race, but so are crime and safety and immigration. Education and employment are issues for most residents in the 25th ward as well. Both Morfin and Medrano have made the changing face of Pilsen part of their campaign platforms. Solis, on the other hand, is highlighting his work on Tax Increment Financing districts and the city's affordable housing initiatives. The other also-ran in this race, Martha Padilla, is featuring the future of Pilsen as part of her plan, if elected.

Danny Solis is a hack, in the truest sense of the word, doing the dirty work of Daley to move the lower-classes away from the lakefront in exchange for access to TIF money. Morfin comes off as the community activist's choice for alderman, but we wonder if he has the money and manpower to turn the vote out in large enough numbers to affect this race. Medrano, indeed a former alderman convicted of corruption, comes off as caring about the future of the community, but at the same time we have to wonder if he really is reformed. We'll leave that up to you, with this quote, from an interview Frank Avila did with him: "there really is no reason for my having taken the first envelope [of cash].... it makes even less sense of my having accepted the subsequent envelopes after that."