Alderman George Cardenas, a Latino, is working hard to maintain his diverse 12th ward. Cardenas seems to understand his area and even runs a bi-lingual web site tied to his office, but the three term alderman is not without controversy, and has been scuffed by Chicago style politics during his time in office.
Background: Cardenas comes from an immigrant family. He moved to America from Mexico with his parents as a small child in the search their "American Dream." He later earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and a master's degree in political science from Northeastern Illinois University. After his time in school, he spent a decade working for various Fortune 500 companies. Cardenas was elected alderman in 2003. He lost an election for the Illinois State Central Committee in 2006.
During his time in office, he maintained strong ties with the Hispanic Democratic Organization and Mayor Richard M. Daley.
He came under fire in 2008 for hiring his friend, Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez's son to intern for a $10,000 salary out of the taxpayer-funded expense account. Cardenas is the chairman of the Health and Environmental Protection committee.
The Ward: The 12th Ward has a long history of working class citizens. The area has been a hub for all types of immigrants. The area once was home to a thriving meatpacking industry and livestock market. Now the area, comprised of South Lawndale, Little Village, Brighton Park, McKinley Park and Back of the Yards, is mostly residential with a growing Mexican population. The area is also home to one of the largest Latino pride parades in Chicago.
The Office: Ald. Cardenas is serving his third term. He won after a runoff with incumbent Ray Frias. During his time as alderman, he has championed education, reducing crime and bringing in more jobs.
Like his mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Cardenas is a proponent of putting more cops on the streets and longer school days.
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