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  HOME | Caribbean

Puerto Rican Vying to Be Chicago’s First Hispanic Mayor

CHICAGO – Puerto Rican-born City Clerk Miguel del Valle officially announced on Thursday his candidacy to succeed the retiring Richard M. Daley as mayor of Chicago.

“I didn’t think it was necessary to play games with people and form an ‘exploratory committee.’ I am definitely running,” Del Valle told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Del Valle, 59, was appointed city clerk by Daley in December 2006 and confirmed in the post by voters two months later.

In a career that includes 20 years as an Illinois state senator, Del Valle never hid his desire to become Chicago’s mayor on the day that Daley abandoned the office.

Daley, in office since 1989, announced Tuesday that he would not seek a seventh term

In his first remarks as a candidate, Del Valle said that the next mayor must represent everyone and not just a segment of the community.

With a very small campaign war chest, Del Valle began to form a campaign team and is thinking about launching a signature collection campaign this weekend to get his name on the ballot.

Candidates for the Feb. 22, 2011, municipal elections must register by Nov. 22. If no mayoral candidate obtains an outright majority in February, the top two vote-getters will face each other in an April 5 runoff.

Some of the main Hispanic figures on the City Council are not convinced that there is a real possibility that Chicago might wind up with a Latino mayor.

Alderman Daniel Solis, a Democrat, said that while an Hispanic candidate might obtain the majority of the Hispanic vote, “I don’t think that there will be an Hispanic in the runoff.”

It would be better “to support another (candidate) who has better chances with our vote,” he said.

Hispanics make up a little more than 15 percent of Chicago’s roughly 1.5 million registered voters.

But another Democratic alderman, Roberto Maldonado, told Efe that that was precisely the problem with the political tradition of Latinos in Chicago, “negotiating alliances to support someone else who’s not one of us.”

In his opinion, “it would be fabulous” to elect a Latino mayor and “I think that we have many people capable of doing a very good job.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said that he is considering with his family his own possible candidacy, revealing that he could count on broad support among the Mexican voters in southwest Chicago.

Another possible candidate is former Alderman Manuel Flores, currently chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Maldonado said that having more than one Hispanic candidate will “greatly” affect the chances that one of them might be elected.

In past municipal elections, the Hispanic vote in Chicago was key to electing the city’s first African-American mayor, Harold Washington, in 1983, for instance.

Maldonado opposed the possible mayoral candidacy of President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, whom he blames for interfering in the efforts to get immigration reform approved this year.

Emanuel was an advisor and fundraiser for Daley before representing Chicago in the House of Representatives and going to work in the White House.

The list of potential aspirants for the post also includes more than 10 aldermen, most of whom are critical of Daley’s work, and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Chicago’s new mayor will take office on May 16, 2011. EFE

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