b. December 10, 1953
U.S. Congress, 4th District (1993-)
Chicago, 26th Ward Alderman (1986-1992)
Chicago, 26th Ward Democratic Committeeman (1988-2000)
Originally raised in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood (before it was the tony residence of today), Luis Guiterrez was a Chicago Public Schools teacher and social worker for Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as the Chicago Latino populations were growing in political power. After running a quixotic campaign for Democratic Committeeman against legendary heavyweight Dan Rostenkowski, Gutierrez attracted the attention of Mayor Harold Washington who was looking for foot soldiers to oppose Democratic organization candidates.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a 1986 remap of so-called "plantation wards" that gerrymandered minority voters so white ethnics could stay in office, jumped into a crowded field of candidates for 26th Ward Alderman with Washington's support. The 1986 race, a proxy battle between Washington 21 and Vrdolyak 29 supporters ultimately went to Gutierrez in a runoff, providing Mayor Harold Washington with a 25-25 split in Council, which he could then control with his tie-breaking vote.
Following the 1987 death of Washington, Gutierrez became more pragmatic and less activist, starting with his 1989 endorsement of Richard M. Daley for mayor in his first campaign. Gutierrez' support, an early and important minority endorsement for Daley, was repaid in kind in 1992, when Gutierrez' received Daley's support for his successful run for a newly-drawn Latino Congressional district.
From his Congressional seat, Gutierrez remained active in Chicago politics, especially in his home 26th Ward, helping to engineer the appointment of Billy Ocasio as his aldermanic replacement, and then his former campaign manager Roberto Maldonado, to replace Ocasio in City Council. While he has been speculated as a mayoral candidate now and then, Gutierrez is just as often seen near his San Juan, Puerto Rico home, as in Chicago. Raised by Puerto Rican parents in Puerto Rico for a few years of his childhood, Gutierrez has been an advocate for the island's issues in Congress (where it has no voting members) and as a result has made him one of the best known and popular politicians on the island commonwealth. As a result, he was mentioned as a possible Puerto Rico gubernatorial candidate more often than for Chicago mayor.
In late November 2017, Gutierrez announced he would retire from Congress and focus on rebuilding hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico and advocate for immigration reform. He endorsed Jesus "Chuy" Garcia to replace him. Gutierrez denied he was interested in running for governor of Puerto Rico, but did not close the door on a presidential run in 2020. Gutierrez' retirement set off a chain reaction in Chicago Latino politics, as the 4th Congressional district touches nearly every Latino ward in the city.
Important Political Events
- 1986, Elected 26th Ward Alderman, defeating Manuel Torres, replacing Michael Nardulli
- 1988, Elected 26th Ward Democratic Committeeman, defeating Manuel Torres
- 1992, Elected U.S. Congressman, defeating Juan Soliz
- 2000, Retires, 26th Ward Democratic Committeeman, replaced by Roberto Maldonado
- 2017, Announces retirement from U.S. House
Chicago Politics Ward by Ward, David K. Fremon