All posts by justinagrelo2019

Meet Chef Roberto Pérez: Revitalizing Chicago’s Puerto Rican food scene

By Justin Agrelo
Medill Reports

Puerto Rican chef Roberto Pérez doesn’t eat pork.

He confesses this to me from behind the steering wheel of his black Volvo on a cold Monday a few weeks ago. We’re driving through Chicago’s Austin neighborhood to Rico Fresh, one of Pérez’s favorite grocery stores.

His confession is an obvious break from a stale Puerto Rican stereotype that claims we all love pork. As a Puerto Rican who doesn’t eat much pork myself, Pérez’s views on “the swine” (as he calls it) don’t surprise me. But because people are defined just as much by choices they abstain from as they are by what they choose to enjoy, I ask him about it. Continue reading

A moment bigger than a campaign: 33rd Ward Aldermanic Candidate Rossana Rodríguez-Sánchez heads into a runoff

By Justin Agrelo
Medill Reports

At a watch party on election night in the back room of Chief O’Niell’s pub in Avondale, a group of nearly 100 people wait.

Live music from a local youth band fills the room as people socialize, drinks in their hands and enthusiasm in the air. Like many other watch parties throughout Chicago’s 50 wards on Tuesday night, this group intently waits on a candidate and an announcement.

The candidate who brought them all together is Rossana Rodríguez-Sánchez,  a youth educator who is running to become the next alderman of the 33rd Ward.

Arriving just before 9 p.m., Rodríguez-Sánchez, 39, is greeted with cheers, applause, and hugs. With a smile across her face and tears in her eyes, she slowly makes her way towards the front of a small stage tucked in the corner of the room. She greets everyone on her way.

Then she dances.

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25th Ward Aldermanic Candidate Hilario Dominguez is making waves – Q and A

By Justin Agrelo
Medill Reports

Hilario Dominguez is making waves and ruffling some feathers on his run to become the 25th Ward’s next alderman. The ward covers all of Pilsen and Chinatown, and parts of Mckinley Park, Tri-Taylor, the West Loop, and the South Loop. And it hasn’t seen a new alderman in more than two decades.

Dominguez, 25, a former educator who was born and raised in Pilsen, is the youngest in this race among five candidates.  And with major endorsements from Chance The Rapper and the Chicago
Sun-Times, Dominguez is looking like the candidate to beat.

Late Friday evening, after hours of canvassing and just four days before election night, Dominguez spoke to me about that Chance endorsement, his views on term limits, the 25th Ward’s controversial 22-year Alderman, Danny Solis, and more.

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Alderman Danny Solis takes central focus at 25th Ward candidates forum – even though he wasn’t there

By Justin Agrelo
Medill Reports

More than 200 people piled into the basement of St. Pius V Church in Pilsen, braving snow and frigid Chicago temperatures. They came to hear five young candidates vying to be the next 25th Ward Alderman speak about housing issues.

Candidates, community members, and media all gathered at a public forum in late January hosted by a collective of community organizations from around the city.

The 25th Ward aldermanic election has been one of the most talked about city races this year. And at the center of all that talk is the ward’s current alderman, Danny Solis. A 22-year incumbent, Solis made headlines for wearing a FBI wire that aided the feds in their criminal investigation of Ald. Edward Burke (14th). Burke has since been charged with extortion for an alleged shakedown of a Burger King in his ward.

Solis upstaged the housing issues at the forum, even though he wasn’t there.

The spotlight on the 25th ward’s election began last November when Solis unexpectedly announced he would not be seeking re-election.

A packed house in the basement of St. Pius V Church in Pilsen. More than 200 people came to hear 25th Ward Alderman candidates speak about housing issues.

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