ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford City Council has named its newest member.
Isidro Barrios now represents the 11th Ward, filling the seat left after the passing of Tuffy Quinonez.
It has been a busy month for Barrios. He worked as a carpenter for 40 years, but he now spends a lot of time with his five children and 13 grandchildren, all of whom were born in the 11th Ward.
He loves Rockford just like one of his closest friends.
“I lost a friend, but thank God I’m going to be able to carry on his legacy,” Barrios said. “Alderman Quinonez, rest in peace.”
Monday night was bittersweet for Barrios. He was approved as alderman of Rockford’s 11th Ward, filling the empty seat left by the passing of his close friend, Tuffy Quinonez.
“I knew him for about 30 years,” Barrios said. “We’ve been working with all different projects in the neighborhood. Broadway, Midtown District, Kishwaukee.”
Barrios said that he is honored to take over Quinonez’s job and hopes to do the best for him.
“Tuffy had always told me, ‘if anything ever happens to me, I would like for your husband to fill my shoes,’ and I said, “Why is that,'” said Melanie Barrios, Isidro’s wife. “And he goes, ‘because, you know, he’s the only man that I know that could do the job,’ and then he made me cry.”
It has been a quick transition for Barrios. First came the funeral for his friend.
“And after that, the phone calls. From friends, from organizations,” he said.
Barrios has been an active member of the Rockford community since moving to the city in 1997. He previously served on the Winnebago County Board.
Barrios and Melanie run a community center to help other residents.
“You’ve got to love the community and you have to get out there and do the best by them,” Melanie said. “Not only for yourself, but for everybody.”
It is a hard job, especially while still mourning. Luckily, Barrios has a strong support system.
“I’m Native American, so that’s kind of like our motto. It takes a whole village,” Melanie said. “I’m very proud of my family being able to do this job for Tuffy, because it’s going to take all of us to do the job. We’re all ready and we’re happy to do it for him.”
Barrios was encouraged by members of the community to step up to the task.
“So, if I did a good job in the past, then now I’m going to do a better job in the future,” he said.
Barrios said that it is an honor to serve the citizens of Rockford and of the business districts.