Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Just who is Jesus Chuy Garcia?

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Jesús "Chuy" García
Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia.jpg
Member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners
from the 7th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded byJoseph Moreno
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 1st district
In office
January 1, 1993 – January 1, 1999
Preceded byHowie Carroll
Succeeded byAntonio Munoz
Member of the Chicago City Council
from the 22nd ward
In office
March 25, 1986 – January 1, 1993
Preceded byFrank Stemberk
Succeeded byRicardo Muñoz
Personal details
BornApril 12, 1956 (age 58)
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materUniversity of Illinois, Chicago
Jesús G. "Chuy" García (born April 12, 1956) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who serves on theCook County Board of Commissioners. A candidate for Mayor of Chicago,[1] Garcia finished second in the February 24, 2015 mayoral election, forcing a head-to-head runoff vote between himself and incumbent Rahm Emanuel. The runoff election is on April 7, 2015.
Garcia was elected to the Chicago City Council in 1986, and in 1992 became the first Mexican-American member of the Illinois State Senate. In 2010, Garcia won election to the 7th district Cook County Board of Commissioners, and after his election was appointed floor leader by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.[1][2] A progressive and a reformer, García is a Preckwinkle ally and was a supporter of former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.[3][4]

Early and personal life[edit]

García was born in Mexico in the state of Durango. His father was a farm laborer under the U.S. government's World War II-erabracero program. Chuy moved to Chicago in 1965 with permanent resident status to the Pilsen/Little Village neighborhood where he still lives. Garcia worked at the Legal Assistance Foundation from 1977 to 1980 as he worked towards a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.[5] He then became Assistant Director of the Little Village Neighborhood Housing Service, where he worked until 1984.[5] In 2002, he returned to school to earn a Master's from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Chicago City Council alderman[edit]

In 1983, García was the campaign manager for labor organizer Rudy Lozano, who challenged longtime alderman Frank Stemberk of the 22nd Ward.[5] In the February 1983 election, Lozano came 17 votes short of forcing a runoff, which his supporters contended was due to voters with Spanish surnames being purged from the rolls, denying him the votes to force a runoff.[5] Lozano was murdered in June 1983, shot to death in his home. A reputed gang member was convicted for Lozano's murder, but his supporters still contend that he was assassinated for his labor and political activities.[5]
In 1984, García challenged Stemberk for his place as a Committeeman in the Cook County Democratic Party. Supporters of Lozano rallied around him and he received the endorsement of Mayor Harold Washington.[5] Stemberk was a supporter of alderman Edward Vrdolyak of the 10th Ward, who controlled the City Council and opposed Washington's administration. This divide within city government was dubbed the "Council Wars" by the Chicago media. With Lozano supporters taking to the race with a "religious fervour" and Washington campaigning heavily on García's behalf, he defeated Stemberk by 2,811 votes (40.62%) to 2,752 (39.77%), with activist and former labor union leader August Sallas taking 1,357 (19.61%).[5] Unlike other committeemen and women, García used his office to provide constituent services, which helped him maintain his high profile.[5] García was also appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Water by Washington, a post he held from 1984 to 1986.[5]
Meanwhile, Washington's allies had sued the city in federal court, claiming that the ward map drawn up after the 1980 Census had unfairly dispersed black and Hispanic voters. At that time, whites were about 40% of the city's population, blacks were also about 40%, and Hispanics were about 15%, but there were 33 white aldermen, only 16 blacks and just 1 Hispanic. In December 1985, as a result of a November 1985 ward remap, judge Charles Ronald Norgle, Sr. of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ordered a special election for March 18, 1986 in seven wards, including the 22nd.[5] The special elections gave Washington the opportunity to wrest control of the city council from Vrdolyak.[5] Stemberk chose not to run for re-election and García declared his candidacy.[5] In the nonpartisan election, García faced supermarket owner and Stemberk ally Guadalupe Martinez and beauty supply store owner Fred Yanez.[5] Yanez emphasised his military service and Martinez called García "100 percent Communist" and criticised him for selling garbage cans, which Martinez gave away for free.[5] García won by 3,293 votes (54.58%) to Martinez' 2,013 (33.37%) and Yanez' 727 (12.05%),[6]carrying 26 of the 27 precincts.[5] García was also re-elected Committeeman with 53.98% of the vote, carrying 24 of the 27 precincts.[5] His election and the victory of two other Washington supporters meant that Vrdolyak's supporters had a one-seat majority. Six weeks later, Washington ally Luis Gutiérrez won a runoff in the 26th Ward and the council was thus evenly split between Washington and Vrdolyak supporters. Washington had the ability to cast tie-breaking votes, Vrdolyak was stripped of his powers and the Council Wars ended.[5]
García was re-elected with 3,998 votes (53.59%) in 1987[7] and with 2,707 votes (52.36%) in 1991.[8] On the council, he served on the Budget and Government Operations; Committees, Rules, Municipal Code Revision and Ethics; Economic Development; Education; Finance; License; Ports, Wharves, and Bridges; Streets and Alleys; Traffic Control and Safety committees and chaired the Aviation committee.[5]

Illinois Senate[edit]

Democratic State Senator Howard W. "Howie" Carroll of the 1st District of the Illinois Senate was redistricted to the 8th District, and in 1992 García ran for the Illinois Senate in the 1st district, winning the open-seat Democratic primary with 8,604 votes (52.06%) to Donald C. Smith's 6,159 (37.26%) and Gilbert G. Jimenez's 1,765 (10.68%).[9] The primary was tantamount to election in the heavily Democratic 1st District and in the general election, and García defeated Republican nominee Esequiel "Zeke" Iracheta by 21,314 votes (81.74%) to 4,762 (18.26%). García was the first Illinois State Senator of Mexican descent.[10] García resigned from the City Council and was succeeded by his protégé Ricardo Muñoz.
In the 1996 Democratic primary, he was challenged by Alderman Juan Soliz of the 25th Ward. Soliz, who had also been elected in the March 1986 special elections, had been supported by Vrdolyak, earning him the ire of Chicago Hispanics. When Soliz was elected, he called for unity among Hispanic aldermen, a plea which they ignored.[5] Soliz and García even celebrated their inaugurations by hiring separate Mariachi bands to play outside the council chambers.[5] After Soliz was replaced as Chairman of the Aviation Committee by García, he derided it as a "racist move", though they were both Mexican-Americans.[5] García defeated Soliz by 6,839 votes (59.34%) to 4,686 (40.66%).[11]García was re-elected unopposed in the general election.[12]
In office, García helped shepherd "immigrant-friendly" health care and education reforms through the legislature.[3]
García was defeated in the 1998 Democratic primary election by Antonio Munoz, who was backed by the Hispanic Democratic Organization, Mayor Richard M. Daley's campaign group and political machine. Munoz defeated García by 6,924 votes (53.72%) to 5,964 (46.28%).[13] Alderman Ricardo Muñoz (no relation to Antonio Munoz), talking in 2010 about his mentor's defeat, said: "Part of the rationale that I think Chuy lost in '98 was that we got sloppy and they [Munoz and the HDO] got lucky. It rained all day, and we didn't have raincoats for our guys until 11 o'clock. By that time, they were frozen stiff. So we lost the field game."[14]

Executive director of the Little Village Community Development Corporation[edit]

After his defeat, García left office in January 1999, founded and became Executive Director of the Little Village Community Development Corporation. He helped grow what is now known as Enlace to 27 full-time employees, 120 part-time employees and an annual budget of $5 million.[15] In June 2005, he helped found the Latino Action Research Network, a PAC to help better represent the city's Latino population.[16]
On Mother's Day 2001, Garcia and members of the group demanded construction of a high school promised to the community, but unfunded. 14 parents and grandparents organized a hunger strike. While Paul Vallas, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, initially refused to meet with the hunger strikers, by the end of the first week, he visited their tent to negotiate terms.[17] The hunger strike lasted 19 days and increased public pressure on the school district to fund the project. In August 2001, the newly appointed CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan, reallocated funds to begin construction on the school.[17] Community members continued to advocate for participation in designing the new school, and door-to-door parent surveys contributed to the curricular focus of each school on the campus.[18]

Cook County Board of Commissioners[edit]

In 2010, García ran for the Cook County Board of Commissioners, challenging 7th District member and HDO candidate Joseph Mario Moreno in the Democratic primary. García defeated him by 9,602 votes (54.74%) to 7,939 (45.26%).[19] In the general election, he faced Green Party nominee Paloma M. Andrade and defeated her by 24,612 votes (86.29%) to 3,912 (13.72%).[20] After the election, Toni Preckwinkle appointed Garcia Floor Leader.
García was re-elected unopposed to a second term on the Board of Commissioners in the 2014 elections.[21]

2015 mayoral election[edit]

Garcia entered the mayoral race against incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel after being recruited by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, a leading progressive candidate who had fallen ill and was forced to call off her own campaign.[22] Garcia won 34% of the vote in the February 24, 2015 mayoral primary, and Emanuel failed to win more than 50% of the vote, thus forcing a run-off election between the two on April 7, 2015.[23]
Garcia opposes the Ashland Bus Rapid Transit plan,[24] the Belmont flyover,[25] and red light cameras.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up to:a b "Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia joins mayor’s race"WGNTV. October 28, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  2. Jump up^ "Will Chicago Progressives Unite Behind Chuy Garcia, Rahm’s 11th-Hour Challenger?"In These Times. November 12, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  3. Jump up to:a b Angela Caputo (February 19, 2010). "Jesus "Chuy" Garcia On Beating The Machine"Progress Illinois. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  4. Jump up^ Paul Merrion (December 20, 2010). "Can Garcia's run for mayor fire up independents?"Chicago Business. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Fremon, David (1988). Chicago Politics, Ward by WardIndiana University Press. pp. 146–151.
  6. Jump up^ "Chicago Ward 22 - Special Election 1986"OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28,2014.
  7. Jump up^ "Chicago Ward 22 1987"OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  8. Jump up^ "Aldermanic Results"The Chicago Tribune. February 28, 1991. RetrievedNovember 28, 2014.
  9. Jump up^ "IL State Senate 01-D Primary 1992"OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28,2014.
  10. Jump up^ "IL State Senate 01 1992"OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  11. Jump up^ "IL State Senate 01-D Primary 1996"OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28,2014.
  12. Jump up^ "IL State Senate 01 1996"OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  13. Jump up^ "IL State Senate 01-D Primary 1998"OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28,2014.
  14. Jump up^ Edward McClelland (April 9, 2010). "HDO: "They're Still Out There""NBC Chicago. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  15. Jump up^ "Enlace Chicago"The Chicago Community Trust. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  16. Jump up^ "Chuy García helps form new Latino PAC"La Prensa. June 2005. RetrievedNovember 28, 2014.
  17. Jump up to:a b Friedman, Joanie. "Contested Space"Critical Planning. UCLA. Retrieved 3 April2013.
  18. Jump up^ "Little Village Lawndale High School Campus". Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  19. Jump up^ "Cook County Commissioner 07 - D Primary 2010"OurCampaigns. RetrievedNovember 28, 2014.
  20. Jump up^ "Cook County Commissioner 07 2010"OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28,2014.
  21. Jump up^ David Orr. "Candidates - November 04, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election"Cook County Clerk. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  22. Jump up^ Chicago Tribune (25 February 2015). "Political dynamics change as Emanuel, Garcia move into runoff campaign"
  23. Jump up^ "Mayor Emanuel To Face Chuy Garcia In Runoff Election"
  24. Jump up^ "Garcia criticizes Ashland bus rapid transit plan; Claypool insists it's 'not a done deal'"Chicago. 11 March 2015.
  25. Jump up^
  26. Jump up^ "‘Chuy’ Garcia says he’ll remove red light cameras if elected - WGN-TV"WGN-TV.


  1. Anonymous4/01/2015

    Masters degree from UI. Impressive.

    1. Anonymous4/01/2015


    2. Anonymous4/01/2015

      What is wrong with UIC? They have a Classics department (for undergraduate students) comparable to Oxford a few years ago. UIC had the top scholars.

      An aside: read the book, "Who Killed Homer?" It is worth it.

      Not a UIC student or graduate or a Classics major or degree holder. Just sayin'. I am going to tell my kids to go to a community college for two years then UIC. Cost of education is ... insane. All of these young people are "debt slaves."

  2. Anonymous4/01/2015

    Chuy is obviously someone the ballerina and the 19th ward elected officials are terrified of. Chuy gets a genuine welcome every time he visits the ward. Rahm sneaks in for appearances. At his big labor rally at TRs last Sauturday he was greeted with lukewarm response by members of the rank and file who were forced to attend. He also cowered in the bar and never made the march across the street to Mt. Greenwood Park for early voting as announced in the official flier. I guess he was afraid of the rank and file police officers, firefighters and other building trades members who were working at Mt. Greenwood Park for Chuy.

    1. Anonymous4/10/2015

      I like how his opponent Guadalupe Martinez called him "100 percent Communist". He was allied against the Vrdolyak bloc, he was a huge supporter of Harold Washington. All very far left liberals. He "shepherded pro-immigration friendly health care and immigration reforms through the legislature". On election night all the "Progressives" came out of the wood work to talk about their support for Chuy. He is OF, BY and FOR the LEFT. His entire career is of liberal policies of "reform" and empowerment of the Hispanics. I see nowhere in the past where he aligned with the "white ethnics". I voted for Satan rather than Jesus.