CHICAGO — U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s surprise announcement that he’s not seeking re-election after 13 terms has left a narrowed field of three Democrats competing for their party’s nod in the Chicago-area district.
It’s the only open congressional race in Illinois. A county commissioner, a police sergeant and an activist will be on the March 20 primary ballot.
The earmuff-shaped district is over 70 percent Hispanic, including Mexican, Puerto Rican and Central American sections of Chicago and nearby suburbs.
The winner faces Republican financial adviser Mark Lorch of Riverside in November. He’s unopposed in the primary and making his first run for public office.
Here’s a closer look at the Democrats:
NAME: Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, 61
BIO: Born in Mexico, Garcia is a former Chicago alderman and Illinois state senator who’s serving his second term as a Cook County commissioner. In 2015, he challenged Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Though ultimately unsuccessful, Garcia forced the former White House chief of staff into an unprecedented runoff election. He’s been endorsed by Gutierrez.
PRIORITIES: Immigration reform, health care and infrastructure.
QUOTE: “I come from community organizing,” he said. “I will continue to engage in whatever means are necessary to be a champion of the people that I hope to represent.”
NAME: Sol Flores, 44
BIO: Flores founded and leads La Casa Norte, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that helps homeless and at-risk people, including building shelters in the city. She was born in the U.S. to parents from Puerto Rico. This is her first time running for public office.
PRIORITIES: Immigration, health care and affordable housing.
QUOTE: “I’ve never been afraid of a fight. While there’s name recognition for the commissioner, I’m proud to work and live and experience the momentum,” she said. “People are excited about someone different, an outsider.”
NAME: Richard Gonzalez, 55
BIO: Gonzalez is a 25-year Chicago police veteran who was born and raised in the city. His parents are from Puerto Rico. This is his second run for public office after an unsuccessful bid for City Council in 2010. He announced his run before Gutierrez said he wouldn’t seek re-election.
PRIORITIES: Education, economic development and affordable housing.
QUOTE: “I was willing to run when it was a difficult choice, when it seemed to be a difficult race, not when I found it an opportunity,” he said. “I’m in tune with what constituents need and what they want.”
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