• Erin Hegarty
    DEC 12, 2022

    Lightfoot picks Cardenas’ former chief of staff Anabel Abarca as next 12th Ward alderman

    Mayor Lori Lightfoot picked Anabel Abarca as the next 12th Ward alderman. [Friends of Anabel Abarca/anabelfor12.com]

    Mayor Lori Lightfoot picked Anabel Abarca to serve as the next 12th Ward alderman, marking the fourth appointment to the City Council Lightfoot has made this term.

    Lightfoot’s nomination will go to the City Council Committee on Committee and Rules for initial approval on Tuesday and the full City Council on Wednesday.

    If confirmed, Abarca would replace former 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas, who resigned from the council Nov. 30 so he could be sworn into his new post as a member of the Cook County Board of Review.

    Related: Cardenas to leave council Nov. 30, opening the door for Lightfoot’s 4th aldermanic appointment

    Abarca is not new to the 12th Ward office as she served as Cardenas’ chief of staff from 2013 to 2016, her resume shows. After leaving the 12th Ward office, Abarca worked as a senior policy analyst for the Chicago Department of Public Health from 2016 to 2017 and as a legal extern for the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners in 2019.

    From 2018 to 2020, Abarca worked as a law clerk for Georges & Synowiecki, then as assistant corporation counsel for Holsten Management Corporation from 2020 to 2021. Currently Abarca is a construction litigation associate for Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath.

    Abarca was one of four people who applied to replace Cardenas. The three other candidates for the position were Robert Abeldano, Lydia Arroya and Anthony Wojtal.

    If Abarca is confirmed, she will be required to run for election in February to keep the seat. Abarca launched her campaign to become the next 12th Ward alderman in September. Before leaving office, Cardenas offered his endorsement of Abarca, saying she has been “a voice and leader in the ward for the past 10 years.”

    But just hours before Lightfoot’s office published the names of the four 12th Ward applicants, United Working Families endorsed Julia Ramirez in the 2023 12th Ward race.

    Ramirez did not apply to be appointed by Lightfoot to fill Cardenas’ seat between the end of November and next year’s municipal election. In addition to Abarca and Ramirez, Joseph Mercado also filed petitions to run for the 12th Ward City Council seat in February.

    Lightfoot in September chose Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43) to replace former Ald. Michele Smith, who announced abruptly in July that she would be retiring. 

    Related: Lightfoot picks zoning board’s Timmy Knudsen as new 43rd Ward alderman

    Earlier this year, Lightfoot chose Ald. Monique Scott (24) to replace her brother, former 24th Ward alderman Michael Scott. Lighfoot’s first aldermanic appointment was Ald. Nicole Lee (11) who replaced former alderman Patrick Daley Thompson, who was forced to resign after he was found guilty of lying to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and undervaluing his income on tax returns.

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