When Ruben Pineda was appointed acting mayor of West Chicago in May, it was under the most unfortunate circumstances: the death of friend and political ally Mike Kwasman.
Next spring Pineda hopes to win the post the old-fashioned way: by winning an election.
Pineda, a 14-year alderman, announced his candidacy Friday for the mayor's seat in the 2013 consolidated election. He believes it's time for him to step up and "continue on the path Mike laid for us."
"It's been a very emotional five months, but it's been a great five months," said Pineda, 52. "I am lucky to have been selected by Mayor Kwasman to be his deputy mayor. That allowed me to step in and now I want to continue to make sure that West Chicago remains strong fiscally and every other way."
Pineda said he will be running on a platform of enhanced public safety, increased upscale development and fiscal stewardship.
"Right now, we have one of the strongest police forces that we could possibly have. When other communities are laying police officers (off) or looking to replace their police officers, we are actually hiring police officers so I want to continue to keep our police force strong," he said. "We can say that because we have been in the black for as long as I can remember and I've been an alderman for almost 14 years now. We've never had to struggle for that. We have very great reserves. We are ready for any emergency."
Pineda said he also intends to continue courting "good, viable businesses," especially to the industrial park near the DuPage Airport.
"We're very fortunate to have a lot of good land there to utilize," he said.
Pineda has been married for 22 years to his wife, Julie. He has three brothers. Born in Texas, he was raised and spent most of his life in West Chicago.
"I'm really proud of this place," he said. "There's a lot to love about West Chicago and I hope to be able to continue to share that message with everyone."
Two other potential candidates have picked up election packets for the seat but Pineda is the first to announce his candidacy.
• DuPage Photo Director Scott Sanders contributed to this report.