WEST ENGLEWOOD — Raymond Lopez has defeated Rafael Yanez to win the 15th Ward aldermanic seat.
With 95 percent of the precincts counted, Lopez had 57 percent of the vote, while Yanez had 42 percent.
"I think that the ward is ready, every neighborhood is ready, and I know I’m definitely ready to start working for the people of the 15th Ward," Lopez, 36, told DNAinfo Chicago after his win.
"It has been a long time coming and finally today we can start a new chapter where City Hall pays attention to the 15th Ward."
Lopez, who recently retired from his job as a skycap for Southwest Airlines, is the Democratic committeeman for the ward.
He said that he plans to start addressing the ward's primary issue, public safety, before the inauguration.
"We can’t wait and we already had an alderman who has not been here so there is no need to drag this out any longer," Lopez said.
A group of his supporters gathered at Homer's Bar, 4518 S. McDowell Ave., on Tuesday night, anxiously waiting for the votes to come in. Once it was clear that Lopez was in the lead, the crowd started chanting and clapping. When Lopez entered the room, the room grew louder with people shouting their congratulations." Lopez was approached with hugs and handshakes.
"It isn’t about me winning a title, it's about our neighborhoods going from here, to here," Lopez told the crowd as he stood on a chair and raised his arm in the air.
Maria Vega, 46, who has lived in the ward for 26 years, said she was very "excited" for Lopez.
"I've been with him since day one," she said. "I've seen him help everybody, schools, he talks to the community and that's why I've been with him since the beginning."
Debbie Waitekus, the 15th Ward precinct captain, said that the former alderman, Toni Foulkes, didn't address the ward's issues, but Lopez has been faithful.
Lopez and Yanez faced off in Tuesday's runoff after taking the top two spots in a five-candidate field in the Feb. 24 election, Lopez with 47.1 percent of the vote Yanez with 22.9 percent.
The 15th Ward seat was left open when Ald. Toni Foulkes decided to run in the 16th Ward.
Leading up to the runoff, Lopez dealt with a major labor union targeting his DUI arrest. He told DNAinfo that everyone deserves a second chance.
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