On September 7, 2010, Mayor Richard Daley announced that he would not run for re-election for Mayor of Chicago. After 21 years as Mayor, he decided he was ready to retire. For many of us young Chicagoans, we do not remember any other Mayor of Chicago. This announcement caused a free for all frenzy of Mayor hopefuls. Slowly, but surely many of those hopefuls fell off of the long list. With the petitions filed, we are now facing three Latino Mayoral candidates. Gery Chico, Wilfredo De Jesus, and Miguel del Valle are each hoping to make history by being Chicago’s first Latino mayor.
Gery Chico was born and raised in Chicago. His father was a local printer, and his mother a secretary. Gery attended Chicago public schools and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). He received his law degree from Loyola University. He is the grandson of a Mexican immigrant. Gery Chico served as Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Chief of Staff from 1992 through 1995. Currently, he is the chair of the City Colleges of Chicago and Senior Partner of the Chicago law firm, Chico & Nunes, P.C., where he manages 30 employees. Gery Chico and his wife Sunny live in Chicago. They have five children and one grandchild.
Gery Chico has a strong financial support for the expensive cost of a Mayoral campaign. His website can be viewed in English, Spanish, Polish, and Chinese. As a former chief of staff of the office he has an understanding of what needs to be done to improve the office and as a former President of the Chicago Public schools he understand the importance of improving Chicago’s School system.
Wilfredo De Jesús, is Puerto Rican. He is the Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Ministries, the largest Latino church in the Midwest. He was born and raised in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood by a single mom. He is one of 6 children. Under the direction of Rev. De Jesús, New Life Covenant Ministries operates successful outreach programs that offer basic human necessities of shelter, food and clothing, and offers discipleship, mentoring, educational and job training opportunities. Rev. De Jesús was named to Chair the National Immigration Campaign for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to help organize the faith-based community in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. He is a Commissioner on the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals. He lives with his wife Elizabeth and their three children.
Wilfredo De Jesús has had a long history of activism and grassroots outreach. He is connected to the people at the most basic level.
Miguel del Valle was born in Puerto Rico, but grew up on the west side of Chicago, and attended Chicago Public Schools. He received a B.A. and M.A. in education and guidance from Northeastern Illinois University. He has served for 23 years as a public servant. In 1986, he became the first Latino Senator in the Illinois General Assembly, where he then served for 20 years and rose to become Assistant Majority Leader. While representing Chicago’s northwest side, he was Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and a member of the Senate Executive, Labor and Higher Education committees. Del Valle was the first non-African-American member of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. In 2006 he was appointed by Mayor Daley as City Clerk of Chicago, which he currently serves as. He lives with his wife, Lupe. They have four children and three grandchildren.
Miguel del Valle was the first candidate to have a campaign ad up, and he has a strong grassroots effort supporting him. He has emphasized the importance of him being the mayor for all of Chicago.
There are many contenders in February’s mayoral election, and Latinos make up about about 28% the population in Chicago, but compromise about 15% of voters. It is feared that with three Latino candidates the Latino vote will be divided and therefore kill the chances of Chicago’s first Latino Mayor. However, there are still some who hold on to hope that the Latino vote will be a determining factor in this race, and maybe even elect Chicago’s first Latino mayor.
Cristina Villarreal is a guest blogger from Being Latino writing from Chicago, Illinois.