Chicago Sun-Times: Mihalopoulos - It’s all in the family for Acevedo political clan

By Dan Mihalopoulos

June 30, 2015

Just 29 years old, Alex Acevedo wants to become a state representative.

His resume consists largely of being a registered nurse and a month’s stint this spring as a Springfield lobbyist.

Still, the young man’s chances of winning probably are strong. After all, his father is veteran state Rep. Eddie Acevedo, D-Chicago, and Alex Acevedo is the designated heir.

Amid all the financial woes and partisan dysfunction in Springfield, Chicago’s Acevedo clan already is looking ahead to next year’s election. In 2016, the Acevedos hope to become the next Illinois family to benefit from the time-honored local tradition of dynastic politics.

“Huge announcement today!” Alex Acevedo posted Saturday on Facebook. “I have decided to run for state representative of the 2nd District. My father Edward Acevedo and I will be having a formal press conference soon! I am grateful for this opportunity and looking forward to the hard work #peoplenotpolitics #Ace4All”

As he appears set to pass the torch to one of his five sons, it’s worth recalling how the elder Acevedo grew in power with the support of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Hispanic Democratic Organization.

HDO was the biggest patronage army in the Daley machine until a federal investigation into fraudulent city hiring killed its clout. Although he was never charged with any crime, Eddie Acevedo’s name came up in the corruption trial of HDO leader and Streets and Sanitation Department boss Al Sanchez.

Former Daley administration official Jack Drumgould told a jury all it took for someone to get a job at Streets and San was for Sanchez to tell him, “This is Eddie’s guy.”

One of Eddie’s gals who got on the city payroll in that fashion was a truck driver named Denise Alcantar, who was a friend of the state rep and had worked in his office. Hired despite lacking any experience — her test scores were rigged — Alcantar seriously injured a city worker, pinning her between a garbage truck and a telephone pole.

The demise of HDO didn’t end Eddie Acevedo’s efforts to help his friends or family. After he supported giving a $98 million school-construction grant to the United Neighborhood Organization, the group used some of those taxpayer dollars to hire Acevedo’s brothers’ security company.

Neither Alex Acevedo — who recently worked on the campaigns of former Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel — nor his father returned calls seeking comment.

To win dad’s seat, Alex Acevedo might not need anything more than what he’s likely got already — the support of Illinois House Speaker and state Democratic boss Michael Madigan.

Due to his reliable votes for Madigan’s agenda, Eddie Acevedo has risen through the ranks in Springfield. As assistant majority leader, he’s the highest-ranking Hispanic in Madigan’s House leadership team.

It’s hard to think the Acevedos would put their succession plan in motion without Madigan’s blessing.

Lately, though, Madigan’s organization hasn’t been enough to carry every second-generation Democratic loyalist in Chicago. A daughter of Madigan ally Joe Berrios lost her House seat last year to Will Guzzardi, who managed to unite hipsters and Hispanics in a diverse Northwest Side district.

Eddie Acevedo’s South Side district might not be ripe for a Guzzardi-style challenge from the left of the status quo.

But voters there should demand good reasons to back Alex Acevedo and not just let the House seat get passed down like a family heirloom.