Mayor Lightfoot in line to appoint her 4th alderman as George Cardenas resigns ahead of Cook County election

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot will have the chance to appoint a fourth member to the Chicago City Council next month, as 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas announced he is stepping down as alderman effective Nov. 30.

Cardenas is slated to take a seat on the Cook County Board of Review, a property tax appeals body, following next Tuesday’s elections. He is unopposed. Whoever Lightfoot picks to succeed him will have an incumbency advantage heading into municipal elections in 2023.

Cardenas has represented the ward — which includes McKinley Park, Brighton Park and part of Little Village — since 2003, and has been a reliable mayoral ally through the Richard J. Daley, Rahm Emanuel and Lightfoot administrations. Cardenas has led iterations of the council’s environmental protection committee since 2011 and served as Lightfoot’s deputy floor leader responsible for whipping votes since last year.

Ald. George Cardenas speaks before budget vote at City Council Chambers last year.

Ald. George Cardenas speaks before budget vote at City Council Chambers last year. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

“When I first ran for office, communities in the 12th Ward faced immense challenges and lacked fundamental resources. As Alderman, I maintained a laser-like focus on the real issues affecting my constituents. My staff and I have worked diligently to be efficient, responsive and accountable,” he said in his resignation letter, citing the construction of Back of the Yards High School and Calmeca Academy as key accomplishments.

“It is my hope that my successor builds on these efforts and is a leader who is not afraid to make tough decisions to keep our communities healthy and safe,” he wrote.

Cardenas has already endorsed his former chief of staff, Anabel Abarca, to take his place. She was also an aide to U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley and worked on now-Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s 2012 campaign for Congress. Julia Ramirez has also filed paperwork with the city and state to run in the 12th ward.

Cardenas’ replacement follows three others this year, as several aldermen already left the Council. Roughly a dozen others are not running for reelection.

In September, Lightfoot appointed Timmy Knudsen to replace retiring Ald. Michele Smith in the 43rd Ward. In June, she picked outgoing 24th Ward Ald. Michael Scott’s sister, Monique Scott, to replace him over 18 other applicants. Scott left the City Council to take a job in the private sector at the Cinespace film studio. Not long after, he became Lightfoot’s pick for a seat on the Chicago Board of Education.

In March, she selected Nicole Lee, a United Airlines director with deep roots in the city’s Chinese American community, to serve as 11th Ward alderperson. Lee, the first Asian-American woman to serve on the Chicago City Council, replaced Patrick Daley Thompson following a February felony conviction for tax evasion and lying to banking regulators.

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November 1, 2022 at 04:42PM

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