In a conversation with the Sun-Times Editorial Board on Monday, incumbent Ald. George Cardenas was accused by two challengers in this race of allowing an asphalt plant to go up in the McKinley Park neighborhood with little community input because he had received a campaign donation from the plant’s owner. Cardenas’ defense was that the owner didn’t give him a donation; the owner’s father did. As if that’s a difference. The alderman also said he did, in fact, reach out to the community. Cardenas also is tainted by other recent apparent conflicts of interest, though he has been accused of no crimes. Challenger Jose Rico says he has a plan to avoid such conflicts. First, he said, he would serve only two terms as alderman. He also would not accept campaign contributions from a developer until after the community has had a say in the developer’s project. Rico is endorsed. The former teacher once worked for the U.S. Department of Education, where he focused on the Obama administration’s efforts to increase rates of high school graduation and college enrollment among Latino students. He is a senior vice president for United Way, a job he says he would give up if elected. Union organizer Pete DeMay also is running. Another candidate, Martha Yerania Rangel, did not participate in the endorsement process.

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