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Ward Politics Fri Jan 21 2011

25th Ward Race is City on Display

The 25th Ward is a horseshoe-shaped district on the Near West Side of the city. Its hodge-podge of varied ethnic and commercial centers are representative of Chicago at large. From its southeastern edge in Chinatown to gentrified University Village, pockets of Little Italy and Tri-Taylor, and nearly all of the heavily Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood, the ward encompasses an assorted mix of communities with distinct needs that serve as indicators of similar issues facing the entire city. The three main candidates for the aldermanic post -- current Ald. Danny Solis, CDOT employee Ambrosio "Ambi" Medrano Jr., and community organizer Cuahutémoc Morfín -- showcase various pieces of the the city's political puzzle, and perhaps, a movement towards ending the old standards of Chicago realpolitik.

Since 1996, the 25th Ward has been represented by Danny Solis, the current Chairman of the Committee on Zoning, and Mayor Daley's former President Pro Tempore on the City Council Floor. Solis, a Tri-Taylor resident, comes from heavy political stock. His sister, Patti Solis Doyle, is a long-time political operative who once served as Hillary Clinton's campaign manager and later, as a senior aide to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. Ald. Solis has been a consistent supporter of Mayor Daley throughout his tenure, and was heavily involved in the now defunct, criminal-ridden Hispanic Democratic Organization.

With Daley's pending departure, and as one of his closer aldermanic allies, Solis finds himself running without the same degree of institutional backing in this year's race. Solis is hoping that his longevity, name recognition, and accomplishments over the past fourteen years make voters pay credence at the ballot box on February 22nd. His two opponents, Ambrosio "Ambi" Medrano Jr., the son of former 25th Ward Alderman and convicted felon Ambrosio Medrano Sr., and last election's loser, the progressive minded Cuahutemoc Morfin, hope otherwise.

Medrano, a 32-year old Department of Transportation employee and community representative on Irma C. Ruiz's Local School Council, carries the weight of his father's sins, who was indicted for accepting bribes in Operation Silver Shovel. Nonetheless, this also acts as an asset for Medrano in basking in the light of his father's remaining supporters. After all, even though this election is on a city-level, this is still the land that Lipinski, Stroger, and Steele wrought. In addition though, Medrano has developed some independent cred of his own, having surprisingly earned the endorsement of the IVI-IPO. Morfin, a serious progressive candidate, has positioned himself as the Miguel del Valle of this race, and despite being beat by nearly 30% in the last election, has continued to work on the ward level in outlining comprehensive plans for issues confronting the community.

In all, the respective backgrounds and styles of the three candidates play out like a drawing of man's evolution, but with distinct Chicago political archetypes represented: Medrano Jr., despite being the youngest of the three and carrying a reformist streak in some of his proposals, stepping out from the murky remnants of the Berrios-style Machine swamp, Solis standing slightly more erect as a pillar of Machine Lite, and Morfin, IVI-IPO-endorsement withstanding, stepping alongside the Claypools and Preckwinkles into Chicago's future. Of course, all three stations have existed in Chicago at once and at any given time, but with the top-heavy presence of Daley soon removed, candidates like Morfin may become more viable than before. And even with Medrano's pedigree, his stated viewpoints show a slow shift afoot. The race in the 25th Ward vividly illustrates the laboring, yet changing dynamic of the city's political culture.

Further, the demographics of the ward dictate that its main issues are matters the entire city needs to address in order to remain competitive as a whole. Containing two heavy port-of-entry immigrant communities in Pilsen and Chinatown, the next alderman must foster an environment that provides access to capital and continued economic development, so as to remain a draw towards possible emigre populations. The next alderman will also need to work in tandem with the city, Chicago Public Schools, and whatever other available resources are out there, to further instill the correlation between opportunity and education. With Hispanic population growth accounting for the majority of general population growth, and with an economy that will increasingly require more college-educated workers in the future, common sense demands a larger investment is needed in urban schools where the majority of minorities live. Stronger schools in the 25th Ward will also help retain families in the wealthier communities adjacent to the Illinois Medical District and UIC. Innovative initiatives to strengthen school performance carry the potential to be the defining mark of the ward's success, and serve as an example across the city.

The 25th Ward may not be the most diverse in the city in terms of integrated living, but its mix of individual communities encapsulate the way most of Chicago has settled. From all of their campaign proposals and appearances, Solis, Medrano and Morfin obviously appear dedicated to the broader Near West Side community they seek to serve. But the successes and failures of the eventual winner will also provide a good barometer for how all of Chicago will fare in the near future.

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Joe Ramierez / January 21, 2011 7:16 AM

1. Morfin is racist Mexican who lies to residents to get what he want.
2. Ask Morfin how is he involved with the aztec a mall project in the 22nd ward?
2. How can Ambi Medrano be a representative of Ruiz school located on the 2400 block of S Leavitt St when he lives on the 1700 block of S Jefferson St?

Roberto Montano / January 21, 2011 9:43 AM

I am voting for Danny.

bill / January 21, 2011 10:42 AM

I will vote for Temoc.

Mark / January 21, 2011 12:09 PM

My vote is for MORFIN.

Matt / January 21, 2011 12:21 PM

Mr. Morfin has my family's and my Vote. Time for change in the 25th ward. Time to end Solis's personal interests and start working on the communities agenda.

Frank / January 21, 2011 4:36 PM

Personal interest? What are you talking about? You probably just moved in I remember when you couldn't walk through the gang infested neighborhood, thanks to Alderman Solis it cleaned up. He is a great Alderman and has done much for Pilsen my family supports SOLIS!!!!

anthony sutor / January 21, 2011 4:43 PM

morfin have been missing for 3 1/2 years from the 25th ward. he is not a cummunity organizer and should not call himself one.He is lieing to the people of the 25thward and if he has a comprehensive plan he must be keeping it for himself. MY VOTE AND MY FAMILYS VOTE IS THE RIGHT ONE PUNCH 53 FOR MY BROTHER AMBI MEDRANO

Sallie Gordon / January 24, 2011 10:03 AM

I've considered all candidates, I've been angry and frustrated by Solis who I supported up to this year, I've known Morfin to be honest and despite working a full time job, he shows up to help residents, I see him in the streets... I've seen him in action. ...he is passionate, smart and outspoken...Medrano seems like a nice enough guy but in hearing him in a forum with Morfin & a Solis's representative (Solis was 'out of town'....)Medrano stumbled over his answers, and seemed overwhelmed by the confident and energetic Morfin...Solis needs to make a change and step down...I think he's stuck professionally and personally..I live with so much of Solis's neglect...he lagged in getting the traffic lights changed on 18th & Halsted and a young woman was tragically killed by a speeding car right in front of my home - I didn't see Solis at the vigil or funeral..although I'm sure he was sad ...he got the traffic light changed after that but to late for the beautiful young woman...we also have a ugly white cinder block box on this corner that is like a tombstone marking his lack of vision and attention to this neighborhood - no bus shelters in burtal winters...they have them everywhere in other neighborhoods with narrow sidewalks...So without anger & looking toward the vote is for Temoc Morfin...I respectfully request that you consider your vote very very the end, the majority decides and there's nothing I can do but speak from my heart...without regret, resentment or anger...

Jose Hernandez / January 24, 2011 11:55 PM

I believe elections can bring out the best and worst in people. A look at the comments above displays some of the worst rhetoric I have ever read. Mostly full of people spewing hate and trying to bring down the opponent with insult.
Non of those insults could influence me to join their campaign, convince me with facts and respect.
The facts go as follows: Taxes and fees of all sorts have shot up; Businesses are suffering and closing; Cars are booted, towed, sold or crunched and you still owe; You make $75 a day working hard a fast light takes $100 away: They can't figure out how to answer your questions but the Revenue Dept. will figure out a way to make you pay fines. ; They can sell the cities assets(Skyway, Miegs, Meters etc.)without our input then say we're broke! And we should trust them again?
Plain and Simple! "Do it to me once Boo Hoo, No Vote for You(Solis) I don't work to make a change and reward you by not trying to remove you Boo Hoo on Me.
I have alot of respect for anyone throwing their hat into the ring. As for spectators quit shouting directions and find something bad you have done and correct yourself or better do something good for someone other than youself,without expecting a reward. All I say is think for yourself protect your families future and vote.

Sallie G. / January 26, 2011 10:57 AM

Thank you Jose Hernandez!

Moises "Moy" Moreno / January 26, 2011 12:07 PM

I think that the 25th ward deserves a qualified candidate for Alderman which we have lacked for the past 20 years. Alderman Solis has had his time in office (15 years) and yet there is still much improvements left unfinshed and negelected in the 25th ward. Take a look around the ward and see for yourself. Examples of his incompetency include everything from basic constituent services to community health regarding pollution from our coal power plant. He rarely follows through on a promise and he has alienated many long-time supporters in the 25th ward. Had he listened to the residents over the years concerning our issues, maybe he would have earned more support from the community. Alderman Solis has expired his welcome in the 25th ward
(Pa' Fuera)

Cuahutemoc Morfin has been very active over the past 3 1/2 years in the community. 1) He has worked in many community-based projects such as community cleaning and recycling which demonstrated the need for better public services since the 25th ward does not enjoy the Chicago Blue Cart program. 2) Morfin was elected twice to the Local School Council at Benito Juarez Academy which was suffering from lack of adequate classroom space and educational programs. Morfin worked with the parents, CPS administration and local elected officials and successfully secured the funds for the expansion and renovation of Benito Juarez Academy. 3) Morfin successfully introduced a city ordinance to issue Chicago municipal Identification cards which would serve as a multi-purpose card for Chicago residents and bring revenue to the city. He received city-wide support and sponsorship from three Chicago Alderman.

Unsurprisingly, every time Mr. Morfin was active in the community, Alderman Solis exerted his political influence to prevent positive change in the 25th ward.

I rest my case.

Mr. Morfin is a community organizer and he earned community support for his leadership and ability to get things done.

There is only one possible choice for Alderman of the 25th ward on February 22, 2011: Cuahutemoc "Temoc" Morfin

In solidarity,
Moy Moreno

Rachel / February 8, 2011 1:47 PM

As a resident of Pilsen, I have been disappointed by Alderman Solis again and again. When I wrote letters with my concerns about a problem building with drugs and gangs, he was the only one who never responded. I made attempts to call his office to speak with him about this issue and ask for repairs to be made to broken streetlights, I never heard back. I received a personal phone call from the chief of police, but never even saw a form letter from my own alderman. Even when there was a major gang war happening, he never attended a CAPS meeting. He sent a representative to tell us how he was working on it, but never appeared in person. And during the recent snowstorm, I received an email from the University Village Association that he was paying for cleanup of snow from that neighborhood's alleys while our main roads were untouched. It is disheartening to be a taxpayer and realize that your alderman has little interest. I will not be voting for Danny Solis this year and have chosen to cast my vote for Temoc Morfin.

Dan / February 13, 2011 10:48 PM

medrano has my vote.

Manny / February 20, 2011 3:37 PM

It's the wild west in the 25th ward. The Good "Morfin", the Bad "Solis" and the Ugly "Medrano".
Morfin is the good because he has integrity and doesnt run for the money or power. $oli$ is the bad because he has sold out the neighborhood by being in the pocket of private developers and corporations. Medrano is the ugly, because political families reek of dirty politics especially when a former alderman went to prison for corruption and now wants his son to take his place? Give us a break..No more old politics in the 25th ward, my vote and family will support Temoc Morfin.

Manchershaw / March 7, 2011 3:18 PM

Can't speak for the other neighborhoods in the ward, but if you live in Pilsen there's no reason you should vote for Solis. Unless, that is, you enjoy getting lung cancer. The coal plant is one of the bigger campaign contributors to Solis. It's no wonder community efforts to shut it down have failed.

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