Major shift in makeup of Chicago City Council after historic election

CHICAGO -- A major shift is coming to the makeup of the Chicago City Council, as several incumbent aldermen lose their bids for re-election.

Chicago’s new mayor will preside over a council with many new faces of color, and the fewest caucasians since the 50 ward system started in the 1920s. Most notably, the council will have a significant uptick in Latino representation.

The biggest upset of the runoff is the ousting of longtime 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O'Connor by community activist Andre Vasquez. Ald. O'Connor has been in office since 1983, and serves as Mayor Rahm Emanuel's floor leader in the council. Vasquez works as an area services manager for AT&T, and is now one of at least 11 Latino aldermen who will be occupying seats within the council chamber.

"The neighbors of the 40th ward have spoken. We have a way to change how local politics is viewed," Vasquez said.

Vasquez ran as a Democratic Socialist, one of four or five aldermen with similar leanings. Among them is Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, who holds a razor thin lead over incumbent Deb Mell. The race is still too close to call, with the final decision hinging on uncounted mail-in ballots.  Mell’s family has held the 33rd Ward seat since 1975. Rodriguez Sanchez plans to go to the Chicago Board of Elections to oversee the  counting process Wednesday.

Community Activist Byron Sigcho-Lopez will replace the embattled Danny Solis as alderman in the 25th ward, ensuring continued Latino representation there. Latinos may gain yet another seat in the 33rd Ward, where the race has yet to be called.

Suffice to say, the Chicago City Council will be more politically diverse than ever, and anything but a rubber stamp. Change seemed to be the theme for this election.

"I think people across the city were tired of machine politics of the corruption," Vasquez said.

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