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Baert Endorses Garrido in 45th Ward Race

 John Arena, Michelle Baert, John Garrido
John Arena, Michelle Baert, John Garrido
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JEFFERSON PARK — Michelle Baert, who finished third in the 45th Ward aldermanic race, endorsed Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido Friday, saying he would focus on the issues that determine the residents' quality of life.

Baert, who publishes a website and Facebook page filled with listings for family friendly activities as the 45th Ward Mom, won 13.3 percent of the vote, finishing behind Ald. John Arena (45th), who won 45.5 percent and Garrido, who garnered 39.7 percent.

Because no candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote, Arena and Garrido are set for an April 7 runoff to decide who will represent Jefferson Park and parts of Portage Park, Old Irving Park, Gladstone Park and Forest Glen on the City Council.

Heather Cherone says this could impact the runoff:

Baert said Garrido was the best candidate to tackle the issues that threaten the quality of life in the 45th Ward, including pothole-ridden streets, empty storefronts and the disruption caused by hundreds of flights overhead using a new runway at O'Hare Airport.

"Our local leadership should put families and the community first," Baert said, echoing her campaign theme.

Garrido, who has been a police officer for 24 years, said he was honored by Baert's endorsement, and would work hard to "make her proud to have endorsed our campaign."

Arena said in a statement that Baert's campaign manager asked him to pay off Baert's "campaign debt" and endorsed Garrido after he declined.

"I'm not surprised by this political decision," Arena said, vowing to continue his work on issues such as education, the minimum wage and creating jobs.

It is not clear what debt Arena is referring to, since Baert's last full campaign finance report filed two months ago listed no debt.

Baert gave her campaign $38,000, records show. She did not return a phone call and email message Friday afternoon.

Garrido said his campaign had not agreed to pay off Baert's campaign debt.

"The reason [Baert] endorsed me is simple," Garrido said. "She and I share core values and a vision for the future of our Ward that is not shared by the alderman."

In fact, Garrido and Baert agreed on three of the biggest issues in the campaign, and Baert was often critical of Arena's actions in office.

Garrido and Baert said they would work, if elected, to ensure that the 45th Ward remains a suburban-like haven, and fight dense developments opposed by nearby neighbors.

Arena has said he believes denser developments should be built near transit hubs to breathe new life into struggling business districts throughout the ward.

Garrido and Baert also agreed that changes should be made to the participatory budget process that Arena has used to spend the ward's discretionary fund. Both Garrido and Baert promised to spend more money repaving streets and fixing sidewalks.

In addition, Garrido and Baert both opposed plans to reduce Milwaukee Avenue by one lane in each direction between Lawrence and Elston avenues to allow buffered or protected bicycle lanes to be built. Those plans were dropped in the face of fierce opposition.

Early voting will take place March 23 through April 4, and the last day to register for an absentee ballot is March 9.

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