Arena holds onto City Council seat

Ald. John Arena

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the hotly contested 45th Ward aldermanic race, incumbent Ald. John Arena came out victorious against Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido in the April 7 runoff election with 53 percent of the votes. Arena’s decisive 2015 victory is a far cry from 2011’s runoff election when the alderman beat Garrido by only 30 votes.

“Thank you! Ready to continue moving our ward and city forward!,” said Arena in a Facebook post after the win.

The lead up to the race has been a contentious one as Arena and Garrido have fought about city issues and each candidate’s experience. The two candidates traded jabs back and forth, with Arena questioning Garrido’s experience and willingness to make tough decisions, while Garrido said his opponent is combative.

Businesses and the overall development of the ward were some of the most talked about issues coming into the election. Arena touted the resurgence of the Six Corners Shopping District and the fact that 80 businesses have opened up shop since he was elected in 2011 as key points to why he should be elected. But in a March debate, Garrido was quick to point out that 200 businesses have closed during that time and Arena was alienating certain neighborhoods and focusing more on the Six Corners area.

But as victory was declared at Arena’s election headquarters at La Pena, 4212 N. Milwaukee Ave., the newly elected alderman said this is just the beginning for the ward.

“This victory is a nail in the coffin of the old way of doing things,” Arena said during his victory speech. “We’ve seen glimpses of what this ward can be.”

Arena, who is one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s toughest critics, thanked the Chicago Teachers Union for their tireless effort in his reelection campaign as many of the members did door-to-door campaigning.

The race was one of the first runoffs to be called as Garrido called the alderman to concede around 9 p.m. Although the two seemed to be bitter enemies during the campaign trail, Garrido said the ward comes first and plans to talk to Arena on how to improve the area for the better.

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