Lightfoot Picks Anabel Abarca to Fill 12th Ward Seat Left Vacant by Ald. Cardenas’ Resignation

Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot tapped Anabel Abarca on Monday to fill the 12th Ward seat on the Chicago City Council left vacant by the resignation of her former boss Ald. George Cardenas.

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Abarca, a McKinley Park resident and attorney, was the only one of the four people to apply to fill the vacant seat on the City Council who is also running for the spot in the Feb. 28 election. If confirmed as expected by the City Council,  Abarca will get a leg up in the already underway race to win a full, four-year term on the City Council.

Cardenas urged Lightfoot to pick Abarca, who he has endorsed in the race to replace him. Abarca faces Julia Ramirez and Joseph Mercado in the contest. Ramirez has the endorsement of United Working Families, a progressive political organization closely aligned with the Chicago Teachers Union.

Lightfoot praised Abarca, who has lived in McKinley Park since 2015, as a “pillar of the community.”

“Her passion for public service and deep connection to her community makes her the best candidate to serve the residents of McKinley Park, Brighton Park and Little Village,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot’s nomination of Abarca now heads to the City Council’s Rules Committee, which could send the pick to the full City Council for a final vote on Wednesday.

Abarca called the nomination a “great honor.” She is on the board of the McKinley Park Development Council and Latinos Progresando.

“Our ward is filled with motivated and passionate people who see our community's potential, and I look forward to bringing their vision to life as alderwoman,” Abarca said. “Together, we will make the 12th Ward stronger and ensure every neighbor thrives."

Lightfoot made her pick with little input from residents of the 12th Ward.

A survey designed to determine what residents of the Southwest Side’s 12th Ward think should be the highest priority for their new alderperson received just 25 responses, according to results posted on the city’s data portal on Nov. 21.

Lightfoot appointed a three-person committee to recommend a replacement for Cardenas, but one member dropped out hours after the panel was announced. The announcement of Abarca’s selection included no mention of the committee’s members, although both Lightfoot and Abarca thanked them for their service.

The mayor's office initially listed Claudia Rodriguez of Noble Charter Schools as a member of the committee, but she told WTTW News she would not join the committee, while declining to tell WTTW News what prompted her decision.

Rodriguez was replaced by Donna Hubble, whom the mayor’s office erroneously identified as also being affiliated with Noble Charter Schools. Hubble is president of the Wolcott Block Club.

Abarca is Lightfoot’s fourth appointment to the City Council.

Lightfoot tapped Ald. Nicole Lee (11th Ward) to replace convicted former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson; Ald. Monique Scott (24th Ward) to replace her brother, former Ald. Michael Scott, Jr.; and Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd Ward) to replace former Ald. Michele Smith.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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