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John Arena, John Garrido Head to Runoff in 45th Ward Election

By Heather Cherone | February 24, 2015 10:32pm | Updated on February 25, 2015 1:35am
 Ald. John Arena and Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido will face off in a runoff election April 7.
Ald. John Arena and Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido will face off in a runoff election April 7.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

JEFFERSON PARK — Get ready for the rematch.

Ald.  John Arena (45th) and Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido will face off in a runoff on April 7 for the 45th Ward seat on the Chicago City Council after splitting the vote at the polls Tuesday.

Arena won 45 percent of the vote, which wasn't enough to win re-election Tuesday, according to unofficial results. Garrido won 39 percent, setting up a rematch of the 2011 runoff in which Arena beat Garrido by 30 votes.


Michelle Baertwho publishes a website and Facebook page filled with listings for family friendly activities as the 45th Ward Mom, finished third with 13 percent of the vote. Michael Diazwho works as an attorney for the state in the department that regulates banks, won only 201 votes, or less than 2 percent of the total, according to unofficial results.

Arena said he was pleased with his showing at the polls Tuesday.

"We're going to win this," Arena told a room full of crowded supporters at La Villa Restaurant in Old Irving Park before all of the votes were counted Tuesday night. "It might be tonight. It might be in six weeks. But we are going to win this thing."

The hard-fought campaign — which included allegations of dirty tricks and law breaking — grappled with questions about the future of the 45th Ward, which includes Jefferson Park, Old Irving Park and parts of Portage Park, Gladstone Park and Forest Glen.

Garrido, who has been a Chicago police officer for 24 years, said the fact that 55 percent of voters in the 45th Ward did not vote for Arena Tuesday "speaks volumes and confirms the fact that Arena is disconnected from the community."

While Garrido argued that the 45th Ward should remain a suburban-like haven, Arena contended that denser developments near transit hubs were needed to breathe new life into struggling business districts throughout the ward.

The candidates also differed on how to spend the ward's discretionary fund through a participatory budget process — and how much should be spent on streets riddled with potholes.

Outside groups spent nearly $200,000 to try to influence the outcome of Arena's bid for re-election. 

Arena, who is the alderman who mostly frequently voted against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, urged his supporters to "get ready for whatever is coming."

"We started something four years ago," Arena said. "But we still have a lot of work to do."

Garrido said he was not concerned about the role that outside groups would play in the runoff.

"It is not all about the money," Garrido said. "We proved that tonight. We're going to focus on the quality of life issues. We are going to take care of the basics."

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