The 25th Ward race between Ald. Danny Solis and Cuahutemoc Morfin is probably the most significant aldermanic runoff, because the ward includes Pilsen’s Fisk Generating Station, one of the targets of the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance.
No matter who wins the election, Morfin may accomplish his goal of cleaning up Fisk. Solis, who opposed the ordinance for years, switched his position on Election Night, after the voters denied him a majority. Solis explained his position in a debate with Morfin on Chicago Tonight: in 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Illinois and the plant’s owner, Midwest Generating, reached an agreement that would require Fisk to clean up or close by 2015.
“I saw it as a redundant ordinance, based on what we had already presented,” Solis said. “I tried to present it to my constituents that way, but obviously, they felt like it had to be addressed again.”
Morfin is calling Solis’s switch “a cynical attempt to pander to voters.” But as a result of Solis’s support, the Clean Power Ordinance may now have enough votes to pass the City Council. Aldermen are reluctant to meddle in another ward, and many were holding back their votes because of Solis’s opposition.
According to the Environmental Law and Policy Center, “[s]ince Solis made his announcement, Aldermen Austin (34th Ward), Brookins (21st Ward), Fioretti (2nd Ward), Tunney (44th Ward), Newsome (4th Ward) and Cardenas (12th Ward) have announced that they too will co-sponsor the ordinance, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 24. Alderman Stone (50th) is not a co-sponsor but has pledged to vote in favor of the ordinance, which needs a total of 26 votes to pass.
Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel is also considered a stronger champion of cleaning up power plants than Mayor Daley.
Solis is getting more help in his race today, when Gery Chico endorses him at Nuevo Leon Restaurant on 18th Street. Earlier this week, Miguel del Valle endorsed Morfin. But Chico carried the 25th Ward on Election Day.
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