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A former alderman tries to reclaim her seat in the 35th Ward

Submitted n Thu, 02/22/2007 – 22:28.
Story by Catherine Rigod

Editor’s note: Rey Colón is the winner

Ward 35 incumbent Rey Colon and former Alderman Vilma Colom will challenge each other in a runoff April 17 to win the right to represent the Westside ward for the next four years.

Colon pulled in 46.4 percent of the votes in the Feb. 27th election, while Colom garnered 33.9 percent. Because neither of the two top voter getters earned at least 50 percent, they must compete again in seven weeks.

A third candidate, former Local School Council President Miguel Sotomayor, who was seeking the office for the first time, came in third, with a total of 19.72 percent of the votes. He will not appear on the ballot in April.

This isn’t the first time these candidates have faced off. Colom lost to Colon in 2003.

Gentrification has been a major issue for many of the residents of Logan Square, Albany Park, Avondale, Humboldt Park and Old Irving Park. For some, the phrase carries negative meaning; for others, it means positive change.

“I’m tired of hearing about gentrification,” says Ald. Colon, 45, who is described by some as the consummate businessman and proponent for housing and big development. He’s been alderman since 2003.

Colon says the image activists in the 35th Ward have of the area is surface deep. “People don’t like change.”

Colon has brokered the deals to have Sultans Market, Streetside Café and a Black Beetle spin-off expand into the ward. He is running on the idea that bringing in small business and increasing condo developments will raise the neighborhoods’ wealth and morale.

Colom, 52, who used to lead a female-based rehabilitation program for inmates but is now unemployed disagrees with Colon’s views on expansion. She says crime is the main issue in the ward.

“We need to clean up the neighborhood, and then build more parks and playgrounds for the children,” Colom said.

Colon says when his predecessor was alderman, she was not an open leader and residents could not easily see what changes were occurring.

“The previous alderman’s campaign was criticized for being not transparent,” Colon said.

Colom, on the other hand, criticizes the current alderman for not being available. “He holds meetings at 5:30 when no one has time to get out of work, feed the children and make it over to the meeting.”

Colon currently holds weekly one-on-one meetings Monday evenings from 5:30-8:30 for ward residents – a practice followed by many but not all of the city’s 50 aldermen.

The two candidates also argue over who deserves credit for business improvements made on Milwaukee Avenue, as well as historical housing revitalizations in Logan Square

aldermen miguel sotomayor rey colon vilma colom ward 35 west humboldt park

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