Girl, I Guess:
***** Click here for our runoff analysis and endorsements*****
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We are BACK and we are TIRED. This is our third time writing this guide (we wrote one for the 2018 primary and another for the general election) and we are READY for this election marathon to be over (but dear God 2020 is coming for us lolsob). Ellen Mayer is the politics editor for the South Side Weekly*, a writer and producer for The Hoodoisie and the host of IlliNoise, a podcast answering your questions about how our state government works. Stephanie Skora is a grouchy trans dyke, and an anarchist with a political science degree. She is one half of the podcast TacoBagel, the Associate Executive Director at Brave Space Alliance, a member of the Coordinating Committee for Jewish Voice for Peace - Chicago, and a founding organizer of the Trans Liberation Collective.
We are Jewish, queer, nerdy and dedicated to helping members of our community navigate a confusing ballot and identify the most progressive candidates. Together we are pretty knowledgeable about local politics, but we’re not on the ground in every ward. So we also recommend you consult with progressive / radical organizers in your community, especially queer people of color.
We love putting together this voting guide, but it is a lot of work! If you’d like to support our work, here are the PayPal links for both Steph and Ellen. If you don’t have PayPal, but still want to donate, you can support by donating through our Venmo accounts: @StephanieSkora and @Ellen-Mayer.
*This guide does not represent the political views of our organizations or employers.
Oy gevalt. Once again, trust us, we know. The cogs of the Chicago Machine are old, rusty, and somehow still manage to spin into motion every four years to elect a slate of yes-people and corrupt cronies to do everything to our beloved city except for the things that we want them to do. This year is different, though. There is a real chance to transform City Hall, and there are a slew of actually progressive candidates for office with a hope for cracking decades of Machine control, and doing the right thing for a change. Yes, we’ve got our fair share of cronies, but we’ve also got people who are worth getting excited about. You might be feeling distressed about your options in the mayoral race, but your vote really matters in these aldermanic races, where there’s a real shot at ousting the old guard. The people elected in a few weeks will be making and implementing policy that has more impact on your day-to-day life than pretty much any other elected official. We made this guide to help you parse out the quagmire of confusing candidates, and to help you decide who to vote for come February 26th.
And listen up, IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO REGISTER TO VOTE. You can register when you show up to vote on election day! Or at any of the early voting places! Just bring two pieces of ID one of which provides proof of address (e.g., pay stub, utility bill). You don’t need to have an Illinois ID! We promise it is easy! If you’re not sure what kinds of ID to bring, check out the Chicago Board of Elections site.
We write this guide using publicly available information from the candidates’ websites and in media outlets. We also consult with radical organizers we trust. We judge candidates based on these metrics:
Support for #NoCopAcademy
Support for CPAC (Civilian Police Accountability Council)
Support for an Elected Representative School Board
Want to erase the Gang Database and expand the Welcoming City Ordinance
Want to dismantle Aldermanic Privilege
Support for Affordable Housing Expansion
Against Charter Schools
Independent from Rahm or The Machine
Supported by radical organizers we trust
In our previous guides, we’ve given a clear endorsement of a single candidate in the race. However, municipal elections are tricky; sometimes the best candidate isn’t the most qualified on paper, or the one with the most experience, but the one who is the best fit for their community, and the most meaningful ties to people living in their ward. Or sometimes a candidate’s platform is totally progressive but their record in the ward tells a different story. That’s why we recommend you also consult with organizers in your community who might have a better understanding of those nuances. And it’s also why we’ve used a Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light system for most races in this guide, rather than framing using a binary yes or no system.
Candidates whose names are highlighted in red are candidates that you should not vote for under any circumstance, or are significantly inferior to our endorsee. Candidates whose names are highlighted in yellow are candidates that we have reservations about, and about whom we advise caution. Sometimes, the best candidate in a race will be a candidate who we have rated with a yellow; we advise voters to exercise their own judgement (and hopefully use our analysis!) about whether they are comfortable voting for a candidate with a yellow rating. Candidates whose names are highlighted in green are candidates that we 100% endorse and strongly encourage voting for; these candidates are either bonafide progressives, or markedly the best choice in their Ward.
We recommend that you use this guide as a companion to BallotReady. If you don’t know, BallotReady is a website that will help you fill in your full ballot. Based on your address, they’ll provide you with a tailored ballot with all your unique districts. They’ll allow you to “add” your preferred candidates to your ballot, which you can then print out to take into the voting booth.
The table of contents below will help you navigate this guide and find the info you need. It also has the TLDR on candidates we recommend. But we do recommend reading the why behind those candidates if you have the time.
If you think we’ve gotten any aldermanic endorsements wrong, please let Ellen know on Twitter or via email, or let Steph know on Facebook or via email and tell us why you think voting for another candidate is a stronger progressive strategy. We do make updates! Obviously we’re not on the ground in every ward in Chicago and we appreciate that folks who are local may have a better perspective. That said, this is a living doc and you may notice us making changes from time to time.
The Mayor of Chicago is essentially the executive branch for the city. They are responsible for the administration and management of the city’s various departments, they submit proposals and legislation to the City Council for consideration by the Aldermen, they submit the annual budget for the city, and have crucially important appointment power over key municipal offices, like Police Superintendent and the CEO and School Board of Chicago Public Schools, among others. The Mayor can fill any elected office in the city, such as an Alderman, by appointment if the seat becomes open during their term. The Mayor has no term limit, and we really just want a Mayor that isn’t a huge asshole and doesn’t viciously hate Black and poor people for a change. Please?
Below are the candidates competing for the job. You might have noticed we didn’t make an endorsement here. We are saying definitely vote NO for everybody except Amara and Toni and then we’re giving you some hopefully helpful information about both and leaving you to decide. This might feel like a cop-out, but the fact is, we truly…. don’t know. Ellen still hasn’t even decided who she will vote for... Steph honestly might just toss a coin at this point. The stakes in this race are way too high for us to make an endorsement unless we are absolutely confident in our choice. And we’re not.
Amara is genuinely the most progressive person in the race. She has a genuinely transformative vision for Chicago and substantive plans for how to bring about that transformation through a fundamental redistribution of resources in Chicago and an emphasis on cooperative models for businesses and housing. Her positions are the most progressive, and if she were to be elected, we think she would be an ally to radical and progressive organizers in the city. In other words, she is the most protest-able. There has been a lot of noise about Amara, we think some of those criticisms are fair and some are not. So we want to address them here.
Dorothy Brown: we think it’s a little icky that she took Dorothy’s endorsement but we appreciate that Amara is trying to build a real coalition of Black people across Chicago and honestly, we want a mayor who cares about the Black church ladies. What actually bothers us about the endorsement is that Amara has been glossing over Dorothy’s corruption and the damaging way that she has run her office to the detriment of incarcerated people. That said, every other candidate in this race is tied to shady and/or machine figures… except Willie Wilson.
Kanye: Ugh. Listen. Kanye sucks. He and his MAGA hat should stay away from Chicago at this point, but he’s not a political or corporate interest group. His money doesn’t come with strings. He’s just an eccentric rich dude who wanted to help a Black candidate in his hometown. Plus, every other candidate in this race is taking money from problematic rich people… including Willie Wilson who is a problematic rich person funding himself.
Immigration: There was a rumor going around that Amara was anti-immigrant. Because of her association with Maze Jackson (a conservative Black radio host) and because she gave a poorly worded answer about Sanctuary at a forum. But the fact is, she has a more progressive stance on sanctuary and immigration than anybody else in the race. We recommend checking out this piece in the Sun-Times if you’d like to see for yourself.
Policing: Amara supports CPAC, contributed to the writing of the consent decree, and is against the Cop Academy. Her emphasis on Block Clubs as a form of community safety is somewhat eyebrow raising, given how often block clubs function as neighborhood watch groups for the police and just end up criminalizing youth and poor folks. When asked about this at the Hoodoisie she insisted that a true block club has nothing to do with the police, but on her website it says that she imagines that block clubs would serve as eyes and ears for the police. This is confusing and, should she become mayor, we’ll need to hold her feet to the fire on this issue and ensure that she is not simply creating programs that will put a friendly face on a violent police department.
Finances: Miss us with this. Harold Washington had tax issues too. He was also the best mayor we ever had. Stacey Abrams had debts, and she is perhaps the most promising politician in the Democratic party right now. People who are not rich and do not have fancy CPAs have financial troubles OFTEN. And no, you don’t need to have a perfectly balanced personal checkbook in order to run a municipal budget. Those are different skills.
Transparency and Accountability: Ultimately our biggest concern about Amara is the lack of transparency in her campaign. Her resistance to releasing her tax returns and her failure to disclose her work on the Kennedy campaign in her taxes are both troubling. She insists that the only reason the media wants people to release their tax returns is because the they want to judge candidates based on income and, well, that is just not true. It’s because it is in the public’s interest to know if their elected officials have actually paid their taxes, what employers they have taken money from, and what their financial interests are. And that brings me to the point about accountability: Yes Enyia’s campaign has taken a lot of disingenuous flak, no question, but they’ve also gotten completely understandable questions and pushback, which they have routinely dismissed rather than meaningfully engaged. And that is just not how you gain trust or work productively with constituents.
Her Experience / Record: A lot of people are concerned that Amara doesn’t have real government experience and/or they’re concerned that she’s padded her resume. We are not concerned about the former but we are a little bit concerned about the latter. The way Amara talks about her record can be… head-scratching. She highlights her work with the Center For Cooperative Economics, but the fact is, she launched that organization right before announcing her campaign and hasn’t actually done anything with it yet. She also presents herself as a lawyer but in fact, she doesn’t practice law (she has a law degree, but never took the bar.) That’s a technicality honestly, the woman has TONS of qualifications, but she has chosen to represent herself in such a way where it seems like she’s padding her resume, which doesn’t help with the trust factor. Meanwhile she has chosen not to highlight things that would actually endear her to progressives. For example, few people know that she actively supported the movement to save National Teachers Academy as a member of the Racial Equity Committee, which drafted a proposal to keep NTA open. She also testified against the closure in hearings. She says she’s an organizer, and we personally wish she would share more about WHAT exactly she has organized for.
Her radical bonafides: We have personal relationships with multiple organizers and radical folk in Chicago who believe in Amara, support her, and say that she really is the person that she says she is. And all this transformative rhetoric Amara has been using during her campaign? She’s been talking this talk for years in all her policy papers, etc. So, we know she’s not just riding a progressive wave. That said, we also know organizers and radical folk (whose opinions we really trust) who DON’T trust Amara, and who say she’s using their movements as talking points without actively contributing. (Of course, you can’t win them all, especially in movement spaces where folks generally don’t trust any politicians.)
A few weeks ago, we were both 100% sure we would vote for Amara because of her genuinely transformational agenda. We are now on the fence because of everything above, and a few things below:
Typically, we’d say “fuck strategic voting.” And if you’ve read our voter guides in the past, you know that we’re usually adamant that you should vote for the most progressive candidate, not the one who is the most “electable.” Because the electability logic is a self-fulfilling prophecy and only serves to reinforce existing power structures. Nobody in the media thought AOC was electable, and now she’s literally setting the progressive agenda in congress. That said, we’re not confident that Amara has pulled off the kind of ground-shaking grassroots people power that AOC did in her district in Queens.
The fact is, the stakes are incredibly high in this race. The chances that we end up with another Daley mayor are looking pretty good. And that would be, well, disastrous. There are radical organizers that we trust who feel pretty strongly that progressives should vote for Toni — not because she’s the most progressive but because she is the least bad candidate who also has a shot at beating defeat Daley. (And no, we’re not talking about Carlos Rosa and his DSA sycophants, here). (Have heard from a number of DSA members that they were distressed by this line. Allow me to clarify that I am referring here to a small handful of people and not the entire organization! #NotAllDSAmembers! #Justice4DSA!)
Toni isn’t anywhere close to a perfect candidate. Her machine connections, and her ties to Ed Burke and Joe Berrios are incredibly troubling. She’s also passed regressive and WILDLY unpopular taxes (like the soda tax), and then laid off County employees when those taxes didn’t pan out. There are a ton of very valid reasons to be concerned about the potential of a Mayor Preckwinkle.
That being said… her platform is actually really progressive. Like impressively progressive. She wants to ditch the wildly racist Gang Database, she says she won’t build the Cop Academy, she wants an elected School Board, and at least a temporary freeze on charter schools, she wants to lift the ban on rent control, and massively expand affordable housing, especially housing for populations who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness. And while she doesn’t want to abolish aldermanic prerogative, the rest of her platform is good. She also has an OK record on a couple things: as Cook County Board President, she’s worked to decrease the incarcerated population and, in particular, to divert youth from the justice system. She was also supportive of bond reform and has a good record on expanding healthcare access in the County.
TO BE CLEAR none of this cancels out her clear investment in maintaining the status quo of the Chicago Machine. And it remains to be seen if she’ll actually make good on these campaign promises. Unlike Amara, Toni will not bring about any kind of real transformation. She will likely do a couple really good things while maintaining the overall system as it stands. And that is a shame when we have a chance in this election to go beyond business as usual.
We still don’t know if we totally agree with the electability argument, here, especially when Toni is actually WIDELY despised by many people in Chicago (are some of those people racist and sexist? probably). People thought that Hillary was more electable than Bernie, but they also forgot how many people *really* hated Hillary. Toni still polls better than the rest, but by an ever narrowing margin. And lord, don’t we know that polls lie.
OK. Now we have overwhelmed you with information and not given you any clear answers. We’re sorry. We love you. Godspeed.
P.S. I know some of y’all are like “what about Lori???” to which we say NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! (see below)
Paul Vallas is a yikesy middle-of-the-road candidate who is running largely on his technocratic experience as CPS CEO from 1995-2001, and Superintendent of various other school districts around the country since then. His stances on policing are just dreadful, not only wanting to increase the volume and intensity of policing, but definitely wanting to build the Cop Academy, and hire more cops overall. That alone is enough reason to not vote for Vallas, but it does keep getting worse. His record as a public school superintendent is abysmal. He was one of the main architects of charter school expansions in Chicago and advocates for draconian “turnaround” processes in which everybody at a school gets fired (and then private organizations are invited to come in and hire a new staff). The more you read about this guy, the more gross it sounds.
Gery Chico is pro-Cop Academy, pro-Gang Database (although he does want to “reform” the Database to make sure its free of “racial discrimination” which is kinda the point of the Gang Database in the first place), mainline Liberal who used to be the President of the CPS School Board. He ran against Rahm in 2011 and finished second, which, well, we all know how that went for everyone. His school plan is strong, which is to be expected from a guy essentially running on his record in improving schools, but it lacks the progressive flair we’re looking for, and doesn’t take a firm stance against charter schools, simply seeking to maintain the cap on new charters. His other policies are fine, but his stances and policies simply aren’t enough to make up for his stances on policing, which are quite frankly, really really bad. He’s also VERY connected to the city’s existing political class, including and especially Ed Burke. He started his career working for Burke (through the extremely racist council wars years) and actually got Burke’s endorsement. He is a machine candidate and a big NO.
Garry McCarthy, where the extra “r” in his first name stands for “racist”. This man is the disgraced former Superintendent of CPD, and deeply complicit in the coverup of the racist murder of LaQuan McDonald by CPD on October 20th, 2014. After the coverup was exposed in 2016 by a court order, McCarthy refused to resign, and was fired by Ghoul-In-Chief Rahm Emanuel. Garry McCarthy is hardly worth discussing, in that we pray that if you are reading this voter guide, casting a ballot for Garry McCarthy isn’t even a remote possibility. McCarthy is a cop, a right-winger, was already a disaster for Chicago in his previous job, and would be an even bigger disaster for Chicago as Mayor.
All you need to know about Jerry Joyce is that during the Candidates forum on LGBTQ Rights, he was the only candidate that said he wanted to keep the gang database (others have this stance but were smart enough to not say it out loud), and when the largely progressive crowd started booing him, he told us to keep booing, because he thought the gang database was an important resource. So we did. He left the forum immediately afterward, skipping the lightning round and last several questions. Irrelevant, and irredeemably wrong for Chicago (He is also the son of a notorious machine operative).
La Shawn K. Ford picked the wrong election to run for mayor. He’s actually quite a progressive candidate, and, while not without flaws, his positions on the issues offer a solid choice for progressives really looking to support a Black man from the West Side. Ford is largely running on his community connections, his extensive and impressive record as a State Representative for the 8th District. Ford is a nice guy, but his biggest flaw is his struggle to distinguish himself from the other candidates. He’s happy to share his stance on issues in the election, but those positions are difficult to find for voters without direct access to the candidate, which is one of the biggest reasons we can’t give him our endorsement.
Susana Mendoza, who many of you may know as Illinois’s sitting comptroller, having just been re-elected in November and announcing her candidacy for Mayor a mere eight days later in a stunning display of chutzpah which makes us deeply hope that the act of ostensibly running for two offices simultaneously will forever be called “pulling a Mendoza”. It doesn’t get much better from there for her, either, as her policies are eerily reminiscent of current Mayor, and the Monopoly Man’s most corrupt friend, Rahm Emanuel. Mendoza would build the Cop Academy on the West Side (which casts doubt over her commitment to implement the Consent Decree in good faith), and she’s also closely linked to recently-indicted and mega-racist Alderman Ed Burke (he played piano at her wedding FFS).
We also think her stances on the death penalty are terrifying. When she was a state rep, she ultimately did vote to end the death penalty in Illinois, because she said too many people on death row have been found innocent and she didn’t want to risk killing an innocent person (this is good) But! before that vote, she also gave a house speech about how she was actually gleefully in favor of the death penalty for people that we know without a doubt are “cop killers or serial murderers.” She said at the time that she thought the state’s current manner of executing people was “much too compassionate” and that she could administer the death penalty with her own hands and then “sleep like a baby.” If her machine ties weren’t enough, this ghoulish stance knocks her right out.
He’s rich! He’s his own man! He’s basically a Republican! Don’t vote for him!!!!!!!!
Lori Lightfoot is a Black, lesbian, law-and-order candidate trying to run as a progressive, but is also a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The biggest issue with Lightfoot is her past as the head of Chicago’s Office of Police Standards under Daley (an investigation into OPS, which covered the time that Lori was there, found a lenient pattern toward police officers) and the Police Board under Rahm. This means that the current state of policing in Chicago falls at least partially on her shoulders, and that state is… really really really bad. While she was leading the Police Board, it delayed a decision for over a year, about whether to discipline Dante Servin for the murder of Rekia Boyd. Ultimately, Servin resigned right before that hearing would have taken place and therefore was able to keep his pension and avoid real discipline. (I recommend reading BYP100’s take on Lori here and this thread from Agitator In Chief.) Lightfoot also defended the cops against brutality lawsuits during her time working for the law firm Mayer Brown.
“WAIT but maybe prosecutors are good!”
BXTCH THEY ARE NOT.
But they can take down corrupt politicians!
THEY ARE ALSO COPS.
Lori literally lied in court to have somebody extradited (AKA deported into the hands of another country’s law enforcement). She is BAD news. She is not a progressive, and we strongly advise not voting for her. Thanks.
Bill Daley, brother of Richard M. Daley and son of Richard J. Daley, is a scary, scary candidate. He’s consistently polling near the top of the Mayoral race, and seems to be running almost solely on name recognition, as he’s filled out few candidate surveys, appeared at almost no public forums, and has only gone to one debate. He’s also probably the very embodiment of the machine itself in Chicago, with his lineage and his work history as former President Obama’s Chief of Staff (yes, he was literally the follow-up to Rahm in the White House, and how wants to be the follow-up to Rahm in City Hall). His platform is a mix of conservative policies and machine politics and somehow, some way, bits and pieces of Chicago seem to be buying it. He touts the public school teachers in his family, but his platform doesn’t even mention the words “charter school,” which is incredibly odd. His policing policy reads as a Clinton-era tough-on-crime stance that’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt and pretending to be progressive. Daley’s entire crime platform only contains the words “accountable” or “accountability” four times, and he seems completely uninterested in curbing police brutality with anything other than training. Gentrification seems sure to worsen under his affordable housing plan, which offers nothing beyond what other candidates have proposed. His entire platform mentions the words “mental health” only once, which is horrific for a city whose mental health resources are badly in need of a boost after being devastated under Rahm Emanuel. Daley is a terrifying prospect for Mayor, and needs to be stopped.
Bob “The Hair” Fioretti is a former Alderman (2007-2015) and Mayoral candidate (4th place finish in 2015) who is soft on cops, weird on taxes (supporting commuter taxes and rejecting a LaSalle St. tax), and keeps touting a record of bringing communities and law enforcement together as his main talking point. We’re not convinced, and neither are the voters. Fioretti is largely irrelevant, and really should change his hairstyle because… well… it looks Trumpy.
Who? But coded, so that you can have an app that asks you who Sáles-Griffin is! In all seriousness, Sáles-Griffin has less than no chance, but he’s a techy person with a lot of tech-based solutions to the big problems facing Chicago. Maybe interesting, or maybe a silicon-valley-style politician who thinks we can hack our way out of the world’s tough problems while also conveniently making Tim Cook rich.
The only candidate for this race is Anna M. Valencia, who is running unopposed because her opponents were kicked off the ballot. However, there has been some confusion among early voters, because Patricia Horton and Elizabeth “Betty” Arias-Ibarra are appearing on early voting ballots. The reason for this is that Horton and Arias-Ibarra were kicked off the ballot after the early voting ballots were printed, and the City couldn’t update the printed paper ballots. So you can technically still vote for them, but votes for those candidates don’t count, and they cannot actually get elected. We hope this clears up any of the questions people might be having!
The City Treasurer is Chicago’s municipal banker and primary financial steward. They receive all money belonging to the city and are responsible for maintaining records and accounts, while also providing reports on city spending. This is the money position.
Melissa Conyears-Ervin is a progressive-ish two-term incumbent in the Illinois General Assembly, serving the 10th District. She’s got a lot of union endorsements, but her platform is much less specific than that of Gariepy or Pawar. She’s also married to Alderman Ervin whom we firmly recommend ousting later in this guide (and political families in Chicago always make us itch.) Generally, she’s establishment.
Ameya Pawar’s big distinction between the other two candidates is his initial proposal and continued support of a City Bank of Chicago, and wanting to use the Office of the Treasurer to empower and and advocate for poor people in the city through creating an Office of Economic Empowerment, which would address issues of housing, debt, employment, and general economic stability. We like the ambitiousness and systemic thinking here (although to be clear, there would be a lot of hurdles to establish the bank, including changing the law). We also like that Pawar wants the city do divest from fossil fuel. Finally, we like the work that Pawar has done advocating for Universal Basic Income. The problem is, Pawar talked a big progressive game when he first ran for alderman, too, and then wound up rolling right over for Rahm in city council (as so many do. sigh). We’re giving him a yellow light because we try to judge candidates as much on their records as on their promises, and we’re kind of wondering why we should believe any of Pawar’s progressive promises now.
You might remember Peter Gariepy from his unsuccessful run to unseat Maria Pappas in the
2018 Democratic primary (and our voter guide debut!) for Cook County Treasurer. He’s actually the only candidate in the race that openly opposes the creation of the City Bank of Chicago for fiscal reasons; he believes that since Chicago as a city is in serious financial trouble and has a large fiscal burden on the horizon, it would be irresponsible to create a municipal bank and muster the capital required. That said, similar to Pawar he does want to use his office to explicitly serve and provide financial relief to low income folks. Gariepy is an actual certified public accountant (how novel!) which means he does know a little bit about managing money, and it also means that his website is chalk full of technical accountant language, and that’s... *checks notes*... not how you win elections! That said Gariepy’s platform seems pretty substantive and progressive. His biggest selling point, though, seems to be his independence from Chicago power players (and maybe that’s a good thing for the guy handling our money!?) Gariepy’s main endorsements come from a kind of old school progressive-ish group called Chicago Democrats For America (DFA not to be confused with DSA!) and progressive caucus alderman like Moreno and Waguespack.
Gariepy is a bland white man with a plan and he just keeps on trying. We dismissed him last time around and he’s back for another round. His proposals aren’t quite as ambitiously progressive as Pawar’s, which is why we’ve given him a yellow, but for those who are concerned about having a more independent treasurer, we say give the accountant a chance.
Mercifully, there are only three referenda this election, and none of them are city-wide. They deal with topics that are vitally important to the city, and are actually pretty easy decisions to make. If you want to read our reasoning for each of the referenda individually, feel free, but we’re advising y’all to vote yes on any ballot measures you happen to come across this February. Just remember that these are non-binding, which means they don’t automatically turn into law. They just let our elected officials know what the people think.
“Should the State of Illinois lift the ban on rent control to address rising rents, unjust evictions, and gentrification in our community?”
Vote yes on this measure. Rent control is good and helps combat gentrification. This measure was on a bunch of ballots during the Midterm election, and we supported it then, too. It was put forward by a coalition of progressive organizations trying to combat displacement. It’s progressive, and it’s common sense.
“In the event that the recreational use and sale of marijuana is legalized in the State of Illinois, should the City of Chicago appropriate tax or other revenues it receives from the sales of marijuana to fund neighborhood reinvestment in low-income, disenfranchised communities hit hard by the war on drugs?”
Vote yes on this measure, but keep your heads up for gentrification down the road. Recreational marijuana seems to be almost certain in the State of Illinois at this point, and pretty much every serious candidate in this election supports taxing it once it becomes legal. The revenue from those taxes should be going to neighborhoods that were hit disproportionately hard by the racist War on Drugs, and putting the money back into these predominantly Black and Brown communities is the right thing to do. We, of course, don’t trust the city, so we advise folks to keep an eye out for this money being used to gentrify those neighborhoods instead of improve life for folks already living there (and ensuring that they can keep living there), but the measure itself is a solid idea.
"Shall our alderman support a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Ordinance to prevent the displacement of residents from the area surrounding the Obama Center by having: 1) 30% set-aside of affordable housing; 2) Property tax freeze; 3) Funding for local jobs and affordable housing."?
Vote yes on this measure, it’s exactly what organizers for the CBA are asking for.
"Should our alderman support a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Ordinance to prevent the displacement of residents from the area surrounding the El Paseo Trail by having: 1) 30% set-aside of affordable housing; 2) Property tax freeze; 3) Funding for local jobs and affordable housing?"
The Dish: Vote yes on this measure! It was put forward by organizers including Pilsen Alliance to help make sure the Paseo Trail connecting Pilsen and Little Village won’t drive gentrification in the same way that the 606 led to gentrification in Humboldt Park. Green space is good! And it’s needed in the area, but we need to make sure that the residents who already live here get to stay and enjoy that green space.
The Aldermen make up the 50 seats on the City Council, which is kind of like the mini-Congress of the city. They also have near-complete oversight over their ward, often acting like mini-mayors with oversight over funding distribution, development authorization, and a slew of other things. They’re also the folks that you see to complain about things in the Ward, file for permits and liquor licenses, parking problems, needing a pothole filled, and street maintenance during storms and cold weather. In Chicago especially, they’re incredibly important and wield a ton of power, so they need to be held accountable.
This election is particularly notable, because almost every incumbent is facing a challenger, and there’s a real possibility that there might be a ton of new aldermen in the new City Council. These are the folks that have the ultimate say, along with the Mayor, over things like the Cop Academy, the controversial Lincoln Yards development, municipal tax policy, disasters like the parking meters, and an elected School Board for CPS.
Proco “Joe” Moreno (Incumbent)
Daniel La Spata
Joe Moreno was appointed by Daley 9 years ago, and has voted with Rahm 98% of the time since 2015. He lives in a rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood, is unsurprisingly a fan of big development projects, and has taken money repeatedly from developers. Moreno styles himself as progressive, but takes money from donors who support mainline Democrats. He’s also been involved in a number of scandals that can only be described as goofy: he was accused of impersonating a police officer in a parking dispute in mid-2018, and in January 2019 was the subject of speculation when he reported his car stolen, and it was later found with the woman he was dating at the time, who said Moreno let her use the car. Moreno’s judgement is questionable, and his politics are (mostly) bad. He has made sure that developers in his ward actually build affordable housing on site instead of taking the option to buy out, which is honestly more than we can say for most aldermen. That said...
Daniel La Spata is better. He wants a participatory budgeting process for the ward, push for an elected school board, and supports CPAC. He also wants to provide childcare and accessible locations for public meetings, thinks housing should be a human right, has a solid community organizing background, including with Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and is fighting to open the Logan Square/Hermosa/Avondale Community Health Center.
***Addendum. Recently there’s been a mini-scandal in this race. A questionable picture of La Spata’s bachelor party has surfaced and it definitely appears to be racist. We don’t like it, and we think La Spata’s apology should have acknowledged that impact matters wayyyyy more than intent. That said, Proco Joe has contributed to and upheld oppressive and racist systems, and we still think that La Spata is more likely to bring about progressive policy that will reduce the harm done by those systems.
Patricia “Pat” Dowell (Incumbent)
With endorsements from big labor groups and prior support from Rahm Emanuel, Pat Dowell is an inside player in Chicago politics. Her record suggests that she is more invested in the needs of her wealthier, whiter constituents on the Near South Side than the needs of her lower and middle class Black constituents to the south. For example, she supported the plan to close National Teachers Academy and turn it into a High School for predominately White and Asian students in South Loop and Chinatown. Dowell has also blocked multiple public transit expansions that would have been beneficial for low-income folks and has expanded police presence in the ward.
Meanwhile, Alexandria Willis is running on a really strong progressive platform, which includes rhetoric like “housing is a human right”. With regards to policing and public safety, she supports CPAC, getting rid of the gang database, demilitarizing police, and investing instead in community safety efforts like block clubs. She also supports an elected school board and says that aldermanic prerogative should not be used to block affordable housing development. She is endorsed by Chicago’s beloved poet/academic/activist/comic book writer Eve Ewing. She is also endorsed by everybody’s favorite tycoon Willie Wilson (!?) and also by us.
Sophia King (Incumbent)
Ebony D. Lucas
Ald. Sophia King is close with the Obamas and is a pretty standard Obama Democrat: Done some good things but not notably progressive and very soft on Rahm. She’s got a combo of big labor (AFSCME) and progressive-ish labor (CTU) endorsement, she’s close to Toni Preckwinkle and was appointed to this job by Rahm in 2016 (which is suspect from the jump). Ebony Lucas is also kind of middle of the road TBH. She’s a real estate lawyer focused on protecting distressed condominium associations which… we just have a (maybe unfair) knee-jerk reaction against people in the real estate business. She did take a lot of money from real estate developers in her last run against King in 2015. The two candidates have similar platforms: they both support an elected school board, they both say public safety starts with community investment, and they both say they support some kind of community oversight for police. Two notable differences: Ebony Lucas (at least privately) opposes the Cop Academy while King voted in favor, and Lucas opposes Aldermanic Prerogative while King is in favor. Honestly, we’re not wild about either of these candidates. Lucas has the endorsement of a weird new PAC called Brand New Council, which calls itself progressive but has no publicly available information about what makes them progressive or who is involved. She is also endorsed by Willie Wilson (!?) and the Southside Democrats for America.
We’re not wild about either of these candidates honestly, but if your default is to vote out anybody connected to the machine, go ahead and vote Lucas.
Leslie A. Hairston (Incumbent)
Leslie Hairston hasn’t been acting in the best interests of her constituents in the 5th Ward for a long time. She voted to close half the city’s mental health clinics in 2012, and remained silent when Alfontish “Nunu” Cockerham was killed in her Ward by CPD in 2015, and then again remained silent when Snoop was murdered by police in the summer of 2018, until multiple community mobilizations forced her to hold a community forum. On top of all of this, she opposes the Community Benefits Agreement for the Obama Center in her Ward, which would ensure that long-time residents aren’t displaced by the incoming development. Hairston has also voted with Rahm 100% of the time since 2015, and was repaid with $20,000 in campaign contributions.
You might remember Will Calloway as one of the organizers who agitated to get the Laquan McDonald video released and who organized the every-day protests outside the courthouse during Van Dyke’s trial. He also was a vocal presence in the protests after Snoop’s murder. Given all of this information, he should by all our usual metrics, be a solid green light candidate. BUT Calloway recently did something that we consider a major red flag: In January, after the verdict came down that Jason Van Dyke’s fellow police officers had not been involved in a cover up (aka: the courts decided it was just one bad apple, not a corrupt system) Calloway gave a press conference in front of the court house saying “Don’t protest. Don’t take to the streets. It's time that we take to the polls." He repeated this line multiple times and… we find this really confusing and concerning. It was (in part) Calloway’s own acts of protest that made Laquan’s murder a national story and forced police misconduct out in the open. And the fact that he is now discouraging protest and encouraging instead an investment in electoral politics (at a time where he is conveniently running for office) makes us worried that Calloway is in fact more interested in his own rising star than true movement work. Also we just think it is bad for anyone to be out here suppressing or discouraging activism. Hence, Calloway’s yellow status.
The third challenger in this race is Gabriel Piemonte, who is a wacky white guy, and if we’re being honest… he’s kind of a crank. That said, his platform is very solidly progressive: he’s been a vocal advocate for an Obama Center CBA, housing affordability, and truly participatory government. His public safety platform is kind of gobbledegook, but if you read it 2-3 times it becomes clear that what he’s trying to say is “Let’s invest in services rather than criminalizing people of color,” which is good. We wouldn’t call him a movement candidate exactly but he is an activist. And the thing is, he really knows what he’s talking about w/r/t the way our government is run, the way the democratic party works, and how they operate in tandem to perpetuate corruption. Despite the cranky-ness, we like him.
Roderick T. Sawyer (Incumbent)
Richard A. Wooten
Deborah A. Foster-Bonner
Wooten is a cop, so that knocks him right out. Sawyer is a Rahm super-supporter having voted with the mayor 100% of the time in 2018. He also supported the closing of 5 neighborhood schools in Englewood this past year. We! Are! Not! A! Fan! That leaves us with an also not very inspiring candidate in Deborah Foster-Bonner an accountant who advocates for a weird form of community self-policing via surveillance. As the president of Reunite Chatham she developed a neighborhood watch program which involved a contract to get 150 homeowner owned security cameras installed across the ward. She wants to expand that program with no requirement that homeowners share their security feed with the police. (This seems bad) She also advocates for more restorative justice courts for young people. (This is good). She supports an elected school board which is good. She also supports a property tax freeze for folks making under $100k which sounds good but is actually bad ($100k is actually a high cutoff and we need to make sure the middle class continues to pay into public services).
In fairness to Sawyer he does have the endorsement from the Center for Racial and Gender Equity (I think their rubric is flawed personally. Feel free to tweet me if you’d like to discuss) and has been a supporter of police oversight in city hall. However, this great piece from The Defender co-reported by Charles Preston lays out how any aldermanic support for oversight has been mostly symbolic). In general, I take my cues from groups like BLMChi and Assata’s Daughters who have made it clear that the Black Caucus (which Sawyer leads) has failed Black people and its leadership needs to go. I think there is meaningful power in voting against someone and we suggest you vote for Foster Bonner.
Gregory I. Mitchell (incumbent)
Jedidiah L. Brown
This is one of those races that makes us squint disapprovingly and scratch our heads. Mitchell is a ‘meh’ incumbent. He voted with Rahm 98% of the time this year and he has received $20,000 from the mayor’s fundraising committee. He also got 5k from Pritzker. His opponents are both community advocates of varying stripes. Jedidiah Brown is a sort of odd activist figure in Chicago. He’s a former minister but he has distanced himself slightly from the church since coming out as bi. He has organized protests against police brutality but has also taken a much more conciliatory stance toward police — insisting on the idea that some police are good — and has tried to be a bridge builder between young Black people and the police. Unsurprisingly, this approach has not endeared Brown to the other organizers leading the charge for police accountability (and abolition) in Chicago. The other guy is Charles Kyle who seems… fine? He appears to have more or less the same platform as Brown, except he’s softer on charter schools (his stance in this Sun-Times survey is weird and contradictory). Both of them gave confusing responses to a question about Chicago’s sanctuary status that smelled of anti-immigrant sentiment, which... come on. We’re not wild about anybody. That said, when we’re not sure about a candidate, we look at their record and how committed to grassroots work they are. Brown appears to be more committed to grassroots work while Kyle does most of his work through institutional nonprofits. We therefore endorse Brown.
Michelle A. Harris (Incumbent)
Jewel R. Easterling-Smith
Michelle Harris, the incumbent in this Ward, actually isn’t horrible. She supports the consent decree, is anti-charter school, supports an elected School Board, and has already created a lot of affordable housing in her Ward, and plans to create more. Not a terrible option, if you ask us.
Faheem Shabazz is running for this seat for the 4th time, having finished second the last two elections. Unfortunately for him, his platform isn’t the most progressive out there, which is a shame, because he has a ton of civic engagement experience. But he’s pro-charter school, which is a position that’s not held by any of the other candidates, so he’s out.
Linda Hudson and Jewel Easterling-Smith are interesting, and pretty politically similar choices. Both are anti-charter school, support an elected School Board, and support the consent decree. The only difference is that Hudson has some mildly wacky positions on taxes; she says that we need to take a look at North Dakota’s banking model, which we interpreted as support for a City Bank, which we’re in favor of, but her framing wasn’t great. Three times as many people live in Chicago as the entire State of North Dakota. On the bright side she explicitly supports CPAC, which is amazing, and while she says that there’s enough affordable housing in her Ward (and there is a lot), she follows that up by saying that Wards that have a history of refusing such housing need to take on more of it, because certain Wards taking on a majority of the affordable housing has led to de facto segregation in Chicago. She’s not wrong at all, and she opposes aldermanic prerogative for this reason.
To be honest, we’re not totally turned off by either Harris, or Easterling-Smith, and we wouldn’t begrudge any of y’all a vote for those two. But we’re sufficiently intrigued by Linda Hudson, and her potential to stick it to other Aldermen on housing and CPAC, so we’re giving her our nod.
Anthony A. Beale
Rachel-Rae Williams (write-in)
Ok so Beale is another “meh” incumbent. He’s been in office for 10 years which means he’s been around long enough to vote for Daley’s ridiculous parking meter deal, closing the mental health clinics, and the cop academy. He’s gotten a lotta money from Rahm and a good amount from Pritzker. So, no thanks. Paul Collins is a former Marine and a former MWRD cop (why do they have cops!?!?!?!) so he’s out. Essie Hall barely has a platform. Her responses to the Sun-Times survey were mostly fine but she supports a hybrid school board, not completely elected, and she is weirdly evasive about charters. Cleopatra Watson also doesn’t have much of a platform. Her Sun-Times responses are more fleshed out than Essie’s and she is clear on her opposition to charters and her support for a fully elected school board. She’s endorsed by the People’s Lobby and United Working Families annnnnd Willie Wilson! She’s not remarkably progressive, but a head above the rest in terms of folks on the ballot.
Also running as a write-in candidate is Rachel-Rae Williams, a very radical queer Black woman who has organized and led protests for Laquan McDonald and Rekia Boyd. She has an extremely progressive platform including support for #NoCopAcademy, CPAC, and erasing the gang database. The fact is, write-in candidates face an enormous hurdle. But there’s nobody on the ballot who is inspiring, and we think it would be pretty radical if someone like Rachel-Rae got a significant chunk of write-in votes. We say voter for her! Let them know that radicals are really out here and they VOTE.
Susan Sadlowski Garza (Incumbent)
Robert “Bobby” Loncar
Sue Sadlowski-Garza is our somewhat problematic fave. Usually when people say “chicago style politics” they mean corruption and The Machine, but Sadlowski-Garza is Chicago-Style in all the best ways. She’s no-nonsense. She comes from the good kind of political family (her Dad, Eddie Sadlowski was a beloved labor organizer). She’s Irish and Polish but so committed to her Latinx constituency that she joined the Latino caucus. She took on a Rahm ally in 2015 and won. She is a former educator and CTU organizer who is extremely invested in supporting neighborhood schools, and she supports an elected school board. She’s been committed to a co-governance model in which she works intimately with her constituents and with community groups to set her agenda, and she has organized alongside groups like the Coalition To Ban Petcoke to advocate for environmental justice in the ward. And she’s used her office resources to support, educate, and protect undocumented constituents.
So why is she problematic? She’s kinda soft on cops (there’s a number of police families in the ward). Like all but 2 incumbents, she voted in favor of the cop academy and, though she’s been a vocal supporter of the CPD consent decree, she also emphasizes that we need to be careful we don’t make police officers’ jobs harder. But she also said in her Tribune survey that “we will never 'solve' crime by incarcerating more people.” She told the Tribune that her plan for decreasing violent crime is investing in youth centers and early intervention programs and similarly told the Sun-Times that police reform has to go hand in hand with addressing the systemic / root causes of violence.
Bobby Loncar is a true “Who?” candidate. His main civic accomplishment appears to be successfully organizing for the first dog park on the Southeast Side (We’re not knocking this! Dogs are great!). He is slightly more conservative than Sue Garza and equally (or more) soft on cops. We endorse our problematic fave.
Patrick Daley Thompson (Incumbent)
This one is easy. Patrick Daley Thompson is a Daley. As such he is fairly conservative and engaged in shady Machine-style practices. David Mihalyfy is a real odd duck without a breath of a chance. But! You should give him your protest vote. Some wacky facts about Mihalyfi: he went to divinity school where he wrote his dissertation on the illuminati. His campaign website is letourlightshine11thward.com. He has an incredibly... wholesome platform that includes youth murals, solar panels, and reopening the local movie theater; but says little about the systemic issues facing Chicago (aside from taxing the rich, which we’re all in favor of). He is a home healthcare provider and former labor organizer. Also, he’s gay! Vote Mihalify!
George Cardenas (Incumbent)
Martha Yeriana Rangel
Cardenas is Definitely Bad and should be ousted ASAP. He’s a real holdover from the Daley-Machine, is tight with Ed Burke, takes money from developers, and has generally been friendly to gentrifying forces in the ward. Martha Rangel is a real Who? About which there is very little information. (We have some suspicions about her being a plant tbh!) The good news is, there’s two strong progressives in this race! But the bad news is there’s two strong progressives in this race. At first we had given Rico our endorsement of this bunch with Demay as a very solid runner up. But we’ve consulted with some trusted folks in this area and no longer feel confident making an endorsement one way or the other — there’s a lot of subtleties in this race that we don’t want to steamroll. Both candidates have strong progressive platforms and records and both have a few downsides as well. We’ve laid out what we know below to help you make your decision.
Pete DeMay is a bonafide labor organizer having worked with some of the most genuinely progressive grassroots unions out there: he helped organize a successful sit-down strike with United Auto Workers in Pueblo, Mexico. In recent years he’s been a vocal organizer for environmental justice in McKinley Park. He’s a co-founder of Neighbors For Environmental Justice and has worked to take on the asphalt plant that Cardenas greenlit in McKinley Park. He’s a DSA Bro, but seems to be one of the good ones. Although it’s good to note that when he ran for alderman back in 2015, he said he supported hiring 1,000 more cops for Chicago. He has since revised this opinion and now says we should invest in community resources rather than policing. This time around he has a very solid progressive platform.
The other guy running against Cardenas is Jose Rico. At first glance, he would seem like a slightly less promising candidate. In recent years, Rico has done more institutional / non-profit-industrial-complex-y work. Early on, he went to work for the Obama admin to lead up their initiative to improve educational outcomes for hispanics (their word). (Rico told me that he left after it became clear that the admin was not going to actually make good on their pro-immigration promises.) Right now, he works for United Way which is one of those BIIIG corporate nonprofits that mostly just provides funding to other smaller nonprofits. That said, he also has a long history of grassroots organizing, particularly around advocacy for immigrants and undocumented folks. More recently he has been involved in La Villita Se Defiende, an amazing group that basically operates as a rapid response team to defend folks who are being targeted for deportations.
Rico and Pete have very similar, very progressive platforms but Rico’s is more fleshed out, highlighting the need for a substantial redistribution of resources to make Black and Latinx neighborhoods safe and healthy and to address the root causes of violence (rather than policing). Pete has been more present as an organizer in the ward in recent years, while Rico has been in and out. We like Pete for his very impressive record as an organizer. We like Rico for his strong ties to immigrant and Spanish speaking communities in Brighton Park and Little Village. (Also this is one of our favorite campaign videos of this election season. More Mariachi please!). We do think Rico’s institutional ties (to the Obamas, to non-profits, and other Chicago power players) are a little eyebrow raising.
We hope this helps you parse a complicated race!
Marty Quinn (Incumbent)
David. J. Krupa
Welp this race is a real hot mess. Quinn is a bonafide machine candidate and essentially a Madigan Mini-Me. (He and Madigan share an office, and another office, and a goddamn website FFS). Running against him is 19-year old DePaul student David Krupa. In 2016 he told the Reader that he was a “Day-one Trump supporter” and posed with a Hillary For Prison sign. Then, when he decided to run for office, he emailed reporter Maya Dukmasova and asked her to take that picture down because he was worried it would damage his political chances. Publicly, he now says that he doesn’t agree with Trump anymore. It’s a wacky race and it’s worth reading Maya’s reporting on it because it’s all Peak Chicago Nonsense. In terms of who to vote for, nobody is good. Quinn will win. We suggest writing in Angela Davis or something.
Tanya G. Patiño
Ed Burke is comic-book evil, and after a whopping FIFTY YEARS in power in the 14th Ward, this geriatric ghoul needs to go. If you don’t know what’s wrong with Burke by now, there’s no helping you, but some recent low-lights include: President Trump being a client of his law firm, being indicted for attempted extortion by trying to get private law firm business through his City Council Office, and his latest legal troubles were so bad, they included Alderman Danny Solis wearing a wire to help gather evidence. We’re not sure if there’s a red light big enough for this man, so we gave him a “burnt red” designation to show just how much we hate him. (You know things are bad if the two of us are actually glad when the feds show up.)
Running against him are Tanya Patiño and Jaime Guzman. Tanya is a former engineer for People’s Gas (and we look sidewise at the utilities generally) and her community work is limited to organizing a youth soccer league and volunteering on campaigns. She calls herself a progressive but when you get into the details of her platform (good luck finding it) she’s honestly pretty moderate. Most notably she declined to support the #NoCopAcademy movement and says the area needs more police. She has gotten a number of “progressive” endorsements (e.g., Chuy Garcia, Our Revolution, and United Working Families), but don’t be fooled. Chuy is pushing really hard for her and most of the other organizations who have endorsed her have strong ties to Chuy. But she is definitely not the most progressive in this race.
Jaime Guzman is a #NoCopAcademy supporter who has been extremely vocal about the fact that policing is not the right solution for true public safety in the ward. His platform is much more substantive and more progressive than Tanya’s. He has worked for years doing violence intervention work, including programs for youth and victims of domestic abuse. Plus his wife is a badass jewelry-maker (Support Latina makers! Buy her stuff!). We endorse Jaime.
Raymond Lopez Incumbent)
Joseph G. Williams
Otis Davis, Jr.
Raymond Lopez has sold out his community, literally and figuratively. Not only has he been completely silent on ICE deportation raids in the 15th Ward, but he’s spent a ludicrous amount of time pursuing racist and ill-advised anti-gang policies, including spending $400,000 of discretionary funds on speed bumps and traffic circles specifically to “prevent gang violence,” which to him evidently means Grease-style drag racing. Not only does he support the violently racist and inaccurate Chicago Gang Database, he actively opposes community efforts to reduce its harmful impact. This Rahm ally has voted with the mayor 100% of the time, received over $35,900 in Mayoral Money. He also has a close relationship with Alderman Ed Burke. There is a whole movement, called ¡Fuera Lopez! to get him out.
So now here is the weird thing. The person we’re recommending to replace Lopez is… a former cop. Yes, that is crazy! But tbh Rafa Yañez is more vocally critical of cops than almost any other candidate for alderman in Chicago. He is a supporter of the #NoCopAcademy movement and critical of the way that the police have criminalized Chicago youth. He talks openly about the patterns of abuse within the department (so not just chalking it up to a few bad apples) and about the way that the police have stood in the way of reforms. He argues (convincingly tbh!) that as a former policeman he’ll be able to leverage his police background to convince others (like the Mayor/fellow aldermen who won’t listen to protesters) to prioritize real reform and invest in community resources rather than police. (It’s also worth noting that he’s got a police abolitionist running his campaign.) He also thinks we should abolish ICE and that we should get rid of the Gang Database. He’s got a slew of progressive endorsements (like pretty much every progressive endorsement) and he’s put his money where is mouth is by starting an organization called U.N.I.O.N. that provides the kinds of youth programs in Englewood and Back of the Yards which he says we should invest in rather than policing. We like him, and we think that all of the progressive and radical things that he’s done to mitigate his cop-ness are legit proof that he’s not going to turn around and be all Back The Blue on us.
The other notable progressive in this race is Berto Aguayo. He’s young! He’s handsome! He’s done what appears to be impressive anti-violence organizing in the neighborhood as well as more Non Profit Industrial-y work with groups like The Resurrection Project. He has essentially the exact same platform as Rafa. (We don’t actually know his stance on #NoCopAcademy but he’s also critical of police and says we should invest in community resources, school counselors, etc rather than policing). The only reason he is yellow is because we feel confident in our endorsement of Rafa. That said, if you feel uncomfortable voting for a former cop (understandable!!!), Berto is the candidate we recommend.
Stephanie D. Coleman
Latasha M. Sanders
Kenny C. Doss II
Toni L. Foulkes (Incumbent)
Jeffrey L. Lewis
Eddie Johnson III
This race seems complex at first, with five candidates running against incumbent Toni Foulkes, but Latasha M. Sanders and Jeffrey L. Lewis don’t seem to be running serious campaigns. Doss is young and seems to have some good ideas but has no website. Toni Foulkes also doesn’t seem to be trying too hard, as she didn’t answer the Sun Times candidates survey, which kinda makes us want to give one of her opponents a shot. Overconfidence in an incumbent, especially in Chicago, smacks of machine politics and corruption, and we’re not fans.
Coleman is actually the daughter of a former Alderwoman, which smells machiney, and her stances are pretty consistent with someone who acts like an incumbent: she supports the elected School Board, supports the consent decree but also supports police, supports affordable housing, and supports maintaining aldermanic privilege. She is noncommittal about charter schools, which makes sense because she’s taken a bunch of money from a charter PAC. We do not like her.
Eddie Johnson III is the only candidate emerging from this race with promise (he is not related to Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson as far as we can tell). Johnson wants an elected School Board, some limitations on charter schools, supports the consent decree and wishes it went a bit further, supports some TIF reform. Vote for Johnson?
David H. Moore (Incumbent)
This race is a bit of a tricky one. David Moore, the incumbent, is among the lowest Rahm-voters, agreeing with the Mayor in the City Council only 71% this year. He’s finishing up his first term and running for re-election, and honestly, he’s not bad. He’s got progressive positions on the LaSalle Street tax, he’s not hot on charter schools, and supports an elected School Board. He also wasn’t a complete rubber stamp on the Cop Academy when it came to a vote in the City Council, and although he did vote for the Academy eventually, he actually asked questions about it during the meeting, which is sadly more than most other Aldermen did. He was also the only alderman to vote against the Obama Center. He says this was a protest vote, highlighting that the city is being discriminatory in where it allocates its resources.
His opponent is… let’s go with “vague” in her positions. Her campaign website offers precious few details on her platform, and the questionnaire and survey responses we’ve found for her don’t inspire confidence. She doesn’t seem to have a position on any aspect of policing aside from “annual training is a good idea,” she’s actually pro-charter schools, and said that she supports the disastrous Bush-era policy of “No Child Left Behind” on her website. Also when asked about affordable housing, she started talking about “affordable jobs,” and we can’t really tell what she means. In a South Side Weekly interview she was disparaging of renters and criticized the way local landlords are “Section 8-ing out the neighborhood,” which sounds very classist. So we’re endorsing incumbent David Moore, and hoping some of his stances improve.
Derrick G. Curtis (Incumbent)
Incumbent Derrick Curtis is pretty decidedly meh. He supports the consent decree but voted for the Cop Academy, isn’t anti-charter school, actually supports the appointed School Board, and is otherwise pretty boring. His challenger, Chuks Onyezia is pretty similar. He ran in 2011, and lost by fewer than 100 votes, then ran again in 2015 and lost again. Despite now running for the third time, his platform is still pretty vague, and his stances are not progressive. He has non-positions or gave non-answers about the consent decree (which is concerning), thinks that there’s enough affordable housing in his ward, describing it as “modest and affordable” (which is weird), and he’s a fan of aldermanic prerogative (which actually makes sense given his experience working in another alderman’s office). He does support holding off on opening new charter schools, and at least a partially elected School Board, though. And this is the confusing part for us: Onyezia is actually more progressive than Curtis on the stances that they both hold publicly, but his seeming lack of a stance on other issues prevents us from endorsing him. This is a toss-up to us, and we suggest that voters in this Ward simply vote for either candidate, because we really can’t find a substantive difference.
Matthew J. O’Shea (Incumbent)
David A. Dewar
Yikes. The 19th Ward is a big cop Ward, and these candidates prove it. Matthew O’Shea, the incumbent, is horrible. When it came out that Danny Solis had worn a wire to record Edd Burke, O’Shea told the Sun-Times, “Where I come from, if you wore a wire, someone’s gonna kick your ass.” And we think that’s probably true… because his ward is full of cops and cops hate snitches. While O’Shea didn’t oppose the consent decree (yeah, we were surprised, too), and wants to put a stop to charter schools, and actually supported the Welcoming City Ordinance, he’s a big, big cop guy, and we can’t get down with uncritical support for the police. His opponent, David Dewar, is a Republican, against the consent decree, and the only place we could actually find any information about his platform was in an interview he did with Patch for Beverly-Mt. Greenwood. He also once told the Palos Regional News, “I believe in the right for babies to decide, not in reproductive rights.”
Like we said, yikes. We’re really sorry. (The good news is, we have an off the record tip that an actual progressive is considering a run against O’Shea for 2023. We’re crossing our fingers!)
Side note: Maybe Dewar should get together with this guy who’s suing his parents for birthing him without his consent.
Jeanette B. Taylor
Nicole J. Johnson
Jennifer O. Maddox
Derndard D. Newell
Quandra V. Speights
Kevin M. Bailey
Anthony Driver, Jr.
There are TOO MANY candidates in this ward. And we are honestly TOO TIRED to get into all of them. We will say that Kevin Bailey is bad bad news, and part of a shady political family (read more about him in The Reader if you’re curious). Maddox is a cop, so no. Maya Hodari has the big newspaper endorsements but she’s been a weird narc for the Obama Presidential Center, showing up at community meetings to oppose the Community Benefits Agreement without disclosing her personal affiliation with the OPC. Nicole Johnson is fine! She’s got a generally good platform and is supported by Chance The Rapper (for what it’s worth). But she also has institutional ties to the University of Chicago which is troubling given how much the University has been trying to take over Woodlawn.
But JEANETTE TAYLOR IS THE REAL DEAL. Seriously we would follow this woman anywhere. She’s a bonafide community organizer with a radical stance. She put her body on the line as a hunger striker to save Dyett High School. She confronted Barack Obama himself over the potential harm that the OPC could cause the neighborhood. She’s got BLM folks working on her campaign (and they don’t usually work on campaigns.) She has a great progressive platform including opposing the Cop Academy and the Gang Database and promoting a “just cause eviction” ordinance. This is one of the few wards in the city where we are actually delighted to make an endorsement. Vote for Jeanette!
(In fairness, we would like to say that Anthony Driver is also good. He has a strong progressive platform that is similar to Jeanette’s and he seems committed to dismantling oppression. That said, he doesn’t have the kind of radical record that Jeanette has. So yes, still vote for Jeanette.)
Howard B. Brookins Jr. (Incumbent)
Patricia A. Foster
Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.
We’ll start this one off easy by knocking out Patricia A. Foster, who ran for this seat in 2015, and appears on the ballot this year as well, but doesn’t seem to be campaigning at all, so that’s a no for us. Joseph C. Zeigler wants a commuter tax, takes a “few bad apples” approach to police reform, and while he supports the consent decree, and an elected School Board, and wants to build more affordable housing, we really think his stances on policing and taxes sour his candidacy.
The incumbent, Howard B. Brookins, Jr, was first elected in 2003 and seems dead-set (a phrase we only chose because he got his Bachelor’s in Mortuary Science from SIU, and we love a good pun) on getting re-elected this year. Unfortunately for him, his positions wouldn’t qualify as progressive: he opposes a LaSalle Street tax, “strongly” supports charter schools, and is a fan of aldermanic prerogative (which is unsurprising for an incumbent). His progressive stances on affordable housing and an elected School Board aren’t enough to make up for it.
That leaves Marvin McNiel, who is getting our endorsement for this Ward. He’s not the best or most progressive candidate overall, but he’s certainly the best of this bunch. He’s got some yikesy positions on policing, such as contracting out to Licensed Private Investigators to solve some crimes, building a Crime Lab in Chicago, and more police bike patrols, but he also opposes the Cop Academy, and wants cops to get professional liability insurance to take some of the settlement burden off the city, which honestly isn’t the worst idea we’ve ever heard? He also wants to change aldermanic prerogative significantly, and make street repair and maintenance the job of the Department of Transportation, rather than the whim of the Alderman. He also supports the LaSalle Street tax, an elected School Board, and charter reform (although he doesn’t support a moratorium). And while he thinks there’s enough affordable housing in his Ward, he also sounds pissed off at banks and developers that own a large amount of vacant homes in his Ward, and wants to try to force them to relinquish their claims on property so people can actually live in those homes.
Michael D. Rodriguez
Lisette “Liz” Lopez
Political succession in the 22nd ward is starting to feel a little bit biblical: Chuy begat Muñoz who begat Rodriguez. Chuy more or less handed off his aldermanic seat to his Chief of Staff Ricardo Muñoz back in 1993. And now, years later, it seems like we’re watching the same thing happen again. In practically the same breath that he announced his retirement, Muñoz endorsed his former chief of staff Michael Rodriguez to replace him. We’re not wild about this! There’s not supposed to be lines of succession in a Democracy. And it reminds us of that weird hand-off of Luis Gutierrez’s congressional seat to Chuy during the midterms. Rodriguez is a full-time candidate currently but his most recent paid gig was for the Cook County Democratic Party, which is eyebrow-raising in itself. That said, Rodriguez has a reasonably progressive platform including eliminating the gang database, supporting an elected school board, and opposing charters.
Neftalie Gonzalez is a former cop, so no thanks. Liz Lopez has machine ties (one of her top donors is the very machine-y Mexican American PAC, which is chummy with Ed Burke and machine families like the Acevedos). That leaves Richard Juarez, who works at Lawndale Christian Health Center providing healthcare services for older adults in the neighborhood. As such, he’s very strong on environmental justice and public health issues. He’s a part of a zillion different civic and activist orgs (seriously, look at his bio on this Sun-Times survey) and he has a pretty good but vague platform. He doesn’t say anything about the gang database and his Sun-Times response about police reform was evasive. He’s in favor of an elected school board but soft on charters. On the whole, we like Juarez’s experience as an advocate for the elderly and for spanish speakers (both in his progressional work and in his civic life) but in terms of platform, he is a little bit less progressive than Rodriguez.
This race is a great example of how our main metrics for Chicago politics don’t always line up: Juarez is more independent but Rodriguez is more progressive on the issues. We’re concerned about Rodriguez’s alignment with the Cook County Dems and the lack of accountability that comes when someone inherits his seat rather than truly earning it. That said we have heard from an organizer in the ward (whom we very much trust) that ultimately, Rodriguez will be the easiest to push on the issues. Since he also has the most progressive platform, we say vote for Michael Rodriguez. (Ellen)
Silvana Tabares (Incumbent)
Paulino R. Villarreal Jr.
This is a slightly weird election, as Tabares is the incumbent, but she was appointed by Rahm in late June of 2018 after her predecessor retired. Prior to that, she was a State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly. Tabares has very pro-cop stances, and wouldn’t say whether she supports the consent decree or not, only saying that CPD need the proper tools to get their job done. She’s not anti-charter school, but she is pro-elected School Board, and had a non-position on affordable housing. She’s… not great. Her opponent, Paulino R. Villarreal Jr, has pretty much the same bad positions as Tabares does. He’s actively anti-consent decree, although he’s also anti-charter school, and pro-elected School Board. But, he’s also got a really weird and right-wing position on immigration, and thinks that undocumented people should be heavily fined, which, yikes. This is yet another election with a bad incumbent who somehow managed to luck into an opponent even worse than they are. This is a heavy nose-holder, but Silvana Tabares is the least bad option.
Michael Scott, Jr. (Incumbent)
Toriano A. Sanzone
Traci “Treasure” Jackson
The 24th Ward is an interesting one, especially because of the number of affordable housing projects and charter schools in the Ward. One-term incumbent Michael Scott, Jr (insert The Office joke of your choice here), is running for reelection on a platform that includes a “both sides” approach to the Consent Decree (he thinks overhauling training and policies is important, but also thinks the police have a hard time doing their job), a relatively pro-charter school stance, and favoring a hybrid School Board. He also listed Alderman Carrie Austin as an inspiration, which is concerning because she’s awful.
His challengers are Creative Scott (no relation), Toriano A. Sanzone, and Traci “Treasure” Jackson. Scott is pro-charter school, and for some strange reason wants an increased frequency of border checks at the state lines to combat gun trafficking, which… no. Sanzone wants to bring a Whole Foods to North Lawndale, and he’s got a whole vision for an Entertainment and Business district on 16th Street, which smells like gentrification to us, and he wants to reinstate Precinct Captains, which are an old mainstay of the machine. We’re advising y’all to take a pass on him.
Traci “Treasure” Jackson is pro-elected School Board, and in favor of tamping down on charter schools, she’s pro-consent decree, and she favors a LaSalle Street tax. Her positions are a little vague, and information on her is a bit short, but she clearly sounds like the most progressive person in the race for the 24th Ward. She’s getting our endorsement.
Troy Antonio Hernandez
The Dish: AKA a personal note from Ellen
*Heaves a deep sigh* Ok so I live in this ward, and man, let me tell you, I have heard so many rumors and conspiracy theories that at this point I can’t keep track. After months of this, my takeaway is that everybody has skeletons and nobody is as pure or independent as they claim to be.
Tensions run high in this race and for good reason. The stakes in the 25th Ward are incredibly high: outgoing super villain Danny Solis is leaving a wake of destruction, having ushered in an era of rampant gentrification and displacement by essentially allowing developers to run rampant (while accepting their hefty campaign donations). Solis Okay-ed The 78, a deeply terrifying and enormous development slated to be built on the northern edge of Chinatown. It will essentially be an entirely new and *private* neighborhood of luxury apartments and commercial space, (and the city is trying to give them millions of dollars in TIF money to build it). Also on Solis’s watch Pilsen has lost over 10,000 Latinx residents. The 25th Ward is currently at risk of being gentrified beyond recognition. In order to stem this tide, we are going to need someone with a drastically different set of priorities, a radical insistence, and a sincere allegiance to the ward’s most vulnerable communities. We are endorsing Byron Sigcho-Lopez because he is the closest candidate to that based on his platform and his record as an organizer.
Byron has been organizing for the last few years with Pilsen Alliance, focusing on housing affordability and anti-gentrification work. Notably, Byron has been a vocal and insistent critic of Solis and any person or organization who has collaborated with—or provided cover for—the alderman. He’s a founding member of the Lift The Ban Coalition and in general, he has worked in coalition with community orgs across the city. Because of that work, he has a lot of allies among the activists whose opinions I trust most. But I also know that he’s not necessarily beloved in his own neighborhood. To some folks in Pilsen, Byron is too aggressive and divisive in his tactics. But then, ironically, to radical anti-gentrification groups like ChiResists he’s actually too conciliatory to gentrifying forces. My biggest concern about Byron is his ability to take criticism and be accountable, but his platform actually accounts for that: it includes a number of systemic solutions to promote community accountability including participatory budgeting and community-driven zoning. (Most candidates in this race say they want some kind of community oversight, but Byron’s proposal is the most open, transparent, and accessible to all community members)
The other candidate running as a progressive in this race is Hilario Dominguez. His platform is similar to Byron’s in some ways (they both support an elected school board and CPAC and Hilario has said he supports at least lifting the ban on rent control although it’s not clear whether he actually supports establishing rent control here.) In particular I’m impressed with Hilario’s emphasis on housing cooperatives as a way to make homeownership more accessible for lower income folks. That said, Dominguez is positioning himself as a unifier and is inclined to take a more conciliatory stance toward neighborhood organizations (like The Resurrection Project, where he worked for 6 months) that have previously worked with Solis. A concrete example of this is that he wants to expand the Pilsen Land Use Committee (Solis’ hand-picked zoning advisory board) to include more stakeholders, rather than scrap it in favor of a truly community-driven process. PLUC is a really shady organization, and I think organizers have a point when they say that it’s main purpose has been to provide cover for Solis’s pro-developer agenda. This is one of the key reasons we aren’t endorsing Hilario.
While he was at TRP, Hilario also organized a march and rally called “Love Pilsen” which featured Danny Solis and was in direct response to an earlier anti-gentrification protest organized by ChiResists. Hilario argues that the purpose of this march was to “move forward with love” and unite the neighborhood, but it was a real slap in the face to the radicals out here fighting gentrification, which raises the question of who he is really trying to unite with. Hilario takes a lot of heat from activists about this for good reason. If your “celebration” is a safe space for a corrupt alderman but not for the activists who are fighting for their neighborhood everyday, that says a lot about your priorities. Based on all the concerns above as well as conversations with organizers in Pilsen, we are giving him a red light.
Hilario argues that his more conciliatory approach is actually what the majority of Pilsen residents want — and it’s possible that he is right. (Although it’s important to note that last election, Pilsen residents voted in favor of a referendum to shut down PLUC).
Interestingly, I think Byron might not be so concerned about uniting people within Pilsen who don’t share his stances. Instead he’s trying to build with like-minded radical folks in different neighborhoods in the ward (e.g., folks in public housing in the tri-taylor area, folks organizing against The 78 in Chinatown) and across the city. I think that’s what we need in City Council: we need a group of aldermen who will actively be co-conspirators for radical organizers both within their wards and across the city.
Note: This week, Hilario and his endorser state Rep Theresa Mah released a statement accusing Byron’s campaign of some shady electioneering tactics in Chinatown, including stealing ballots from seniors and illegally electioneering in a HUD senior housing building. These are serious accusations but of course they are not coming from neutral parties and right now they are unsubstantiated. We heard from Byron’s campaign directly about this, they deny all the accusations and have provided strong, plausible explanations for all the issues Hilario laid out. That said, we are still confident in our endorsement of Byron as clearly the most progressive candidate for the 25th Ward.
A brief note about the other candidates in this race:
I’m not gonna vote for Troy Hernandez, but I am grateful for his presence in the race because he, at least, brings the comic relief. (Did you know that he has a PHD? And a blog? And that he’s been reading Ben Joravsky for years? YEARS!!!!!). He’s a devil’s advocate type who thinks he’s smarter than everybody in the room. (That said, he’s self-funding his campaign and is probably the only person in this race who doesn’t have some kind of shady relationship.)
Aida Flores is a moderate candidate who is most concerned about middle class homeowners. She talks a big game about being the only independent in this race, but she has taken money from a bunch of developers as well as former Solis donors. She also has Danny Solis’ daughter’s endorsement. We do not like her.
Alex Acevedo is… an Acevedo. They’re an old school machine family using old school machine tactics. He is also a Law & Order candidate who is endorsed by the FOP (police union) so that’s an ABSOLUTELY NOT.
If you’re interested, Ellen co-reported a lot more about this race over at South Side Weekly.
Roberto Maldonado (Incumbent)
Roberto Maldonado, the incumbent, is terrible, takes a boatload of money from developers, and shadily took advantage of gentrification by the 606 Trail by flipping properties for a huge personal profit. Only after he made that profit did he capitulate to activists demands and advocate for a change in laws so that other homeowners couldn’t do the same. But here is the thing, he did capitulate. We started out urging voters to vote against Maldonado, but we’ve heard from a few organizers on the ground that while they strongly dislike Maldonado, they’re much more concerned about his challengers.
Theresa Siaw has some incredibly concerning stances on policing, including wanting to increase penalties for violent crime, and improve training so that the city can hire more police. David Herrera also seems to have the same problems, but more troubling is his current job as a luxury real estate developer. Humboldt Park is a gentrifying neighborhood experiencing significant displacement of Black and Brown residents, and we can’t endorse a developer in this race. Both candidates support a hybrid school board, and while they both oppose school closings, neither of them really qualifies as progressive.
Maldonado, on the other hand, has let himself be pushed left by organizers. He recently flip flopped and decided to oppose the Cop Academy and ousted Riot Fest from Humboldt Park. He also opposes Lincoln Yards. Organizers tell us that he is now running a pretty genuine community zoning process — if community members show up and say “no” to a zoning, change for developments, he does what they say. We think Maldonado is bad, but we defer to local organizers if they say they think he can be pushed while the other two candidates cannot.
Walter Burnett Jr. (Incumbent)
Cynthia D. Bednarz
Walter Burnett Jr, the incumbent, is not great. He is against a publicly elected School Board, and supported the heinous Cop Academy without question. He’s pro-cop, fine with charter schools, and overall not a progressive option. He also voted down CPAC, saying that would be equivalent to letting the KKK made decisions about him. Woof. Burnett has taken tons of money from Rahm. He also voted for Daley’s disastrous parking meter deal and Rahm’s decision to close mental health clinics. Burnett, however, does have an upside: he appears to be genuinely interested in expanding affordable housing in his Ward. In 2018, he used his aldermanic prerogative to shut down a development on Halsted because the developers refused to put in 20% affordable units and not have a buy-out option for affordable units.
Burnett’s other saving grace is that his opponent is also terrible. While Cynthia Bednarz supports an elected School Board and a moratorium on new charter schools until the School Board is elected, she isn’t opposed to new charters schools in general, wants to work closely with the police and give them the “best resources.” She actually criticized Burnett for using his aldermanic prerogative to force developers to expand affordable housing, which she described as “preventing new investment in the Ward,” a fancy way to say “gentrification.” (She is a realtor so this makes sense.)
Bednarz messaged us to say that she does support CPAC and opposes the cop academy, and then posted these stances publicly on her Facebook pages when we asked if she had made those stances known publicly. She also said in her post, that she wants to expand the welcoming city ordinance. That’s good, but we’re also wondering why she didn’t make these stances public sooner. She has said from the jump that Burnett should have done more to hold Rahm accountable after the murder Laquan McDonald.
Honestly, we think both of these candidates are trash. But we also think voters should punish Burnett for his godawful stance on policing. We’re inclined to say give Bednarz your protest vote and then if she’s elected, push her really hard on affordable housing.
Jason C. Ervin (Incumbent)
Jason Ervin was appointed by Rahm in 2011, ran unopposed in 2015, and is being boosted by $21,500 of Mayoral Money in 2019. In other Corrupt Cash news, he received a $5000 campaign contribution in 2016 from a woman who was supposed to be conducting a youth jobs program with the money. He supports the Cop Academy and even wants it to be named after his father, a former cop, which explains why when 19-year-old NIU student Quintonio Legrier and 55-year-old activist Bettie Jones were killed by CPD Officer Robert Rialmo in his Ward, he stayed silent. This fall, challengers running against Ervin for the 28th Ward seat were assaulted by one of his campaign volunteers, and although he denied involvement, he never condemned the attack.
Jasmine Jackson doesn’t seem to actually be campaigning, and Beverly Miles has only a very vague campaign website.
Miguel Bautista is a clear alternative, and the best candidate in the race. He explicitly supports CPAC, equitable development (30% affordable housing, 30% jobs in any development guaranteed to residents of the 28th Ward), a moratorium on charter schools, an elected School Board, and a significant expansion of affordable housing. He easily gets our endorsement.
Chris Taliaferro (incumbent)
Zerlina A. Smith
Chris Taliaferro is a former Marine, a former cop, and has voted with Rahm 100% of the time, and that’s pretty much all you need to know about him. He needs to go.
Zerlina A. Smith, on the other hand, sounds like an absolute badass. She grew up on the Near West Side and became a fierce community organizer. Smith wants to fight gentrification in the 29th Ward, make sure quality city services reach the Ward, end TIFs, enact a $15 minimum wage, support unions, and thinks housing is a human right. To top it all off, even though she wouldn’t outright say it, we got hints of police abolitionism in Smith’s campaign platform, and we’re a big fan. If we lived in the 29th Ward, we’d be voting for Zerlina Smith.
Jessica W. Gutierrez
Ariel E. Reboyras (Incumbent)
Ariel Reboyras is a classic Cop ‘N’ Corrupt incumbent alderman who’s a part of the old guard in the city, and his Ward deserves a huge change. He wants to increase police patrols, and while he claims to have done a good job getting affordable housing and new jobs in his Ward, we’re skeptical a more progressive face couldn’t have done much better. He also is quite proud of the first Sbarro storefront in the country being opened in his Ward, which, weird flex, but ok. Reboyras needs to go.
His opponents, Jessica W. Gutierrez and Edgar Esparza, present a range of different options. We’re not too enthused about Esparza, who is only 23 and doesn’t seem to have a clear picture of what’s going on in his Ward. Youth isn’t always a bad thing, and can definitely be a strength, but he even admits himself that his involvement in the community is limited: he didn’t go to high school in the city, and currently attends Columbia University in New York for his undergraduate degree, and ran before when he was just 19, seemingly only because he really doesn’t like Reboyras. He calls Reboyras a carpetbagger, and while Reboyras certainly isn’t even close to a good option… this feels a bit pot-and-kettle.
Jessica Gutierrez, on the other hand, seems like a real winner, and a true progressive. She’s been endorsed by SEIU and the CTU, and has proposed a slew of progressive policies like an elected School Board, a $15 minimum wage, police accountability, aldermanic prerogative reform, a charter school moratorium, and property tax reform (name-dropping Girl, I Guess favorite Assessor Fritz Kaegi). She’s also got an extensive activist record: as a PhD student in Louisiana, she helped Central American migrant families settle in the state, and helped them apply for immigration benefits. In 2015, she moved to Israel to study at Hebrew University as part of a doctoral fellowship (VERY broke!), but while there worked with AMIDEAST to teach English in Palestinian public schools in East Jerusalem (pretty woke!), so we’re willing to give her a side-eye for the Israel trip, and not make it a deal-breaker since she used her time there to actively benefit Palestinians with a reputable org.
Milly Santiago (Incumbent)
Felix Cardona Jr.
One-term incumbent Milly Santiago, is a law-and-order alderman with close ties to the police, pro-charter school positions, wants to seriously criminalize illegal gun possession, maintain aldermanic prerogative, and has a, let’s call it “interesting,” proposal for a bicycle registration fee. We give her a solid, “thank u, next”.
Also running is Felix Cardona Jr. who worked for Joe Berrios and is a pro-police candidate, so he’s right out.
Colin Bird-Martinez has a strong progressive platform: he wants to abolish the gang database, curb aldermanic prerogative, and expand affordable housing options. He also appears to be a fan of the campaign to end money bond. On paper he seems like a perfect candidate! But his record in the ward is a little less cut and dry. He’s one of the founders of Hermosa Neighborhood Association, which has done some good things for the area including advocating for the neighborhood public schools and demanding on-site affordable housing in a new building on Diversey and Pulaski. That said, we have also heard that (like so many neighborhood associations) HNA has also at times been a gentrifying force in the area. We endorse Bird-Martinez but we encourage voters to be watchful and make sure that as alderman he prioritizes those who are most vulnerable to displacement.
Deb Mell (Incumbent)
Deb Mell is a defiler of bowties and a disservice to White dykes everywhere in the city. Gentrification in the 33rd Ward has intensified under her watch, and she supports the Cop Academy, possibly solely because protesters were “mean to her”. Embodying Chicago cronyism at its finest, she was appointed by Rahm to her daddy’s aldermanic seat when he retired, and then buffed up with $21,500 of Rahm’s money in campaign contributions. That’s exactly the kind of dynastic, machine politics that our city needs to leave behind. She also recently put out a racist mailer, implying that her opponent wants to reduce police funding because she supports crime or gangs or some other ridiculous anti-Latinx bullshit.
Katie Sieracki is fairly progressive. She supports an elected school board and some kind of elected citizen oversight board for police. Otherwise she sees kinda soft on police and has a policy plank about making the CPD a more data driven organization which is a red flag, given that the department is already moving in that direction (e.g., the gang database has expanded dramatically in the last few years) in ways that are very much damaging and probably unconstitutional. That said, she would probably be a yellow if it weren’t for the fact that….
We LOVE Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez. She is one of our most full-throated endorsees this election. This long-term community organizer is a bonafide badass, she’s fought ICE and deportations in her community, has fought back against unjust evictions in her Ward, and wants to use her office to help the work that community organizers are doing on the ground. She’s pro-$15 minimum wage, anti-Cop Academy, wants to abolish TIFs and wants to expand affordable housing. We love her, vote for her.
Carrie M. Austin (Incumbent)
Preston Brown Jr.
Carrie Austin is the latest member of her family to be in power in the 34th Ward, and she’s no less of a loyal machine stooge than her predecessors. Shamefully, at an Aldermanic Black Caucus fundraiser in the summer of 2018, she shouted “shut up” at a youth activist from #NoCopAcademy when he disrupted the program, and cheered when he was forcibly thrown out of the room. She was also sued by the #NoCopAcademy campaign for advancing a Budget Committee vote to allocate funds for the Cop Academy before public comment could take place. No surprise for an alderman who has voted with Rahm 100% of the time since 2015. She’s gotta go.
Preston Brown Jr is a clearly better choice, largely because he isn’t Carrie Austin. He does support CPAC, curbing aldermanic privilege, a moratorium on charter schools, an elected School Board, and a vast expansion of affordable housing. He’s getting our endorsement.
Amanda Yu Dieterich
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (Incumbent)
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is a Capital-P-Progressive, and was the only incumbent alderman with the genital fortitude to stand up to Rahm Emanuel’s Cop Academy from Day 1. He’s doing good work pushing a progressive agenda city-wide and he has also done some strong work in the ward establishing a community zoning process. We think he absolutely should should remain on the City Council. That said, he’s also done a remarkable job alienating people on the left in this election season — people who could and should be his allies (lord does he need allies on City Council). We also raised our eyebrows a little at Rosa’s maneuvering for higher office over the last year — first in a short-lived stint as Daniel Biss’s running mate and then in a short-lived stint as a candidate for congress. But it should be said that when Rosa and Biss parted ways, it was because Rosa stood by his values and refused to denounce the BDS movement for Palestinian liberation, and we really appreciate him for that. We’re hoping that when this election hellscape simmers down, Rosa will have a good handful of fellow progressives on City Council and that he will emerge as someone who is actually able to build coalitions and get shit done.
Rosa is facing a challenge from Amanda Yu Dieterich. She’s got a progressive-ish platform, but her husband works in Rahm’s office as deputy budget director and she’s taken money from a number of the machine-friendly unions (e.g., IBEW, LiUNA), as well as from developers and property managers. These three factors together have fueled rumors that Dieterich is a Rahm-backed candidate who is in this race to punish Rosa for standing up to the mayor. (At least formally, Rahm hasn’t endorsed or given her money.) Here’s what we know for sure: she is connected to Rahm via her husband, and taking money from developers is a disqualifier, especially in this race. We also know that Rosa has the more progressive agenda. Vote for Carlos.
Emma Mitts (Incumbent)
Emma Mitts has been a consistent disappointment to residents of her Ward, starting with being appointed by Mayor Daley, and voting 100% of the time with Rahm since 2015. She received $30,000 in campaign contributions from him this year alone. She cheered the construction of the Cop Academy despite intense opposition by her Ward’s residents, and has allowed charter schools and big box stores to open and expand in her ward, without fighting for funding for Austin’s public schools and actively opposing fair and living wage ordinances that would protect her ward’s workers. Unsurprisingly, Mitts has enjoyed plentiful campaign contributions from charter school companies, and downtown developers the whole time.
Tara Stamps, who is running to replace Mitts again after taking her to a runoff in 2015, is the real deal. She’s a CPS teacher and CTU organizer, a huge opponent of the Cop Academy, which is crucial since it would be in her ward, wants to re-open the closed mental health clinics, had has a progressive position on all the issues that should matter to the voters interested in our opinions. Stamps is legit, and hopefully this will be they year when she finally unseats Mitts.
This is an open seat, as incumbent Alderman Margaret Laurino isn’t running for another term.
Samantha Nugent looks like the machine candidate in the race, and is a longtime campaign worker and staffer, having served as Lisa Madigan’s Director of Operations and Counsel. As such, her position on aldermanic prerogative appears to be “I’ll be accountable and transparent”. She also wants officer feedback for the CPD Consent Decree which is… bad. She has some progressive positions on charter schools and the School Board, but we don’t trust her.
Casey Smagala put the phrase “MUST SUPPORT OUR POLICE” in a candidate questionnaire, which makes him pretty much an automatic “no” from us. He claims to care about youth death and violence in his Ward, but police are not the answer to either of those problems. His platform seems to be Kids ‘N’ Cops, but doesn’t support a full moratorium on charter schools (rather, he would wait until the School Board is elected, and then consider charter schools again). There are better options out there for the 39th Ward.
Joe Duplechin… is a cop and an FOP guy. Without a campaign website. HARD pass.
Robert Murphy, a Democratic Committeeman is a pro-police candidate, who supports increasing the number of officers in CPD and “limiting the number of suits” brought against the Department, which could either mean a Lori Lightfoot-esque policy of actually defending the suits, or it could mean something else. Murphy’s agenda is otherwise that of a mainline progressive, but his pro-police sympathies are concerning. Despite that concern, Murphy has a slew of endorsements from progressives that we trust, as well as several progressive organizations, and his positions on police are actually the most progressive of the candidates in this Ward, which, while sad, is… something. We give Robert Murphy the nod, but advise caution.
Pat O’Connor (Incumbent)
Pat O’Connor is a 36-year incumbent that has been trying to do his best impression of a racist grandpa since taking office in 1983. Along with Ed Burke, he was part of a band of White aldermen who sabotaged Harold Washington’s administration by opposing his attempts at reform. It hasn’t gotten better since then. During this election, he went full Fox News on his Nigerian-American opponent Ugo Okere by accusing him of not being for “the community” but only for “Nigerians” in the Ward. Yikes. As if that wasn’t enough reason to hate him, he ensured the passage of the infamous parking-meter deal as Mayor Daley’s council floor leader.
Maggie O’Keefe and Dianne Daleiden are perfectly fine as a progressive candidates, but we don’t consider them to be the best choices in this race.
For us, this race comes down to two pretty great candidates in Ugo Okere and Andre Vasquez. Both are extremely progressive, DSA-style candidates who bring provocative, thoughtful solutions to the table for the problems facing the 40th Ward. While the two have largely similar platforms on the major issues, the difference-maker for us between Ugo and Andre was the impressive thorough-ness of Ugo’s platform (for a Ward that includes parts of Andersonville, he had the foresight to include a platform on LGBTQIA+ rights), and his decidedly Leftist community organizing experience. Andre Vasquez is a perfectly acceptable choice, but we’re giving our endorsement to Ugo Okere.
Anthony V. Napolitano (Incumbent)
The 41st Ward houses O’Hare airport and is one of the more remote parts of the city, which makes this election a bit unique, Some of the major issues are access to city services and airport noise. That being said...
Incumbent Anthony Napolitano’s career reads like an NBC lineup: Chicago PD, to Chicago Fire, to Chicago Alderman. This also means that he is extremely pro-cop, which makes sense for an FOP man who proudly touts that he increased the number of permanently assigned officers in his Ward by 70. He also believes the consent decree is “absolutely unnecessary” which is wrong and horrible. Napolitano also doesn’t seem to know basic facts about the city, as he stated that crime has increased over the past 8 years, when in fact it has decreased. This guy is a dick, and needs to be voted out.
Tim Heneghan is… concerning, but better. A retired firefighter with a face that says “Public Service Dad,” Heneghan’s main upside is that he appears to be a better person than Anthony Napolitano. He has some interesting views on taxes, and opposes the LaSalle Street. tax on the basis that it might cause the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to move which seems… unlikely. While he’s a proponent of Capital-L-Liberal “cops should play basketball with neighborhood kids” kind of programs, he has gone on the record as opposing the Cop Academy, which is something that we’ll always take. He also opposes charter schools, supports an elected School Board, and wants to expand affordable housing in his Ward. He’s not an ideal candidate, and we wouldn’t necessarily call him progressive, but we’re giving Tim Heneghan our endorsement.
Michele Smith (Incumbent)
Incumbent Michele Smith is a law-and-order candidate who states that her top priority is making sure that “crime has consequences” in the ward again. Ew. She supports aldermanic prerogative, doesn’t seem concerned about charter schools since there are none in her Ward, and does not support an elected School Board. We think that it’s probably time for a change.
The question becomes… who is that change? Smith’s opponents are not super great.
Derek Lindblom was a former staffer in the Mayor’s office, which makes us suspicious right off the bat. He wants to reduce the number of Aldermen on city council, which is a proposal espoused by conservatives including Bill Daley, and he’s also not 100% supportive of the consent decree with CPD, criticizing it for creating additional bureaucracy. He wants to crack down on illegal handgun sales, and isn’t super gung-ho about limiting charter schools or the elected School Board, either. Meh. Next.
Steven McClellan doesn’t even seem to be running a serious campaign, has no available positions on his campaign website, and didn’t answer all the questions on a candidate survey. Still meh. Still next.
Leslie Fox is a mixed bag of progressive positions on schools, and an elected School Board, and also pro-police policies and police-friendly positions. She’s also an old-world Democratic Party person, which makes her sound machine-y. Mega meh. Mega next.
Based on her website and survey responses, Rebecca Janowitz doesn’t seem promising. She told the Sun-Times “we have to be tough on crime” (eek) and “tough on the preventable causes of crime including disinvestment and lack of opportunity” (Ok?). She’s wishy-washy on the consent decree for reasons that sound good (not tough enough on bad policing tactics), but end up bad (she thinks the issues are police stress and bad morale). She is soft on charter schools and she opposes an elected school board (In this economy???!!?) . We would say also meh. Also next. BUT Interestingly Janowitz is endorsed by Sharlyn Grace (an human we both love and support) who says, “I have seen Rebecca proposing strategic and intelligent reforms that have impacted thousands of Chicagoans for the better.” And we’ve heard from other folks off the record that Janowitz has been a real ally to organizers during her work at the county (she’s worked both for the Sheriff's office and for Toni Preckwinkle’s office), contributing to decarceration efforts at the cook county jail, supporting the fight to end money bond, and working to expand juvenile court records expungement. We’re still iffy on her based on her public platform, but we’re upgrading her from red to yellow.
Jacob Ringer is a finance policy wonk largely running on that, and his roots in the area. His views on police are “a few bad apples”-esque, he supports a moratorium on charter schools, and has some questionable positions on reforming the City Council, but this man is remarkably, impressively, almost hilariously thorough. His platform is incredibly comprehensive, and although we wouldn’t categorize him as progressive based on his positions, we also find him the least objectionable or clueless candidate of the bunch. Vote for Ringer or maybe Janowitz.
Tom Tunney (Incumbent)
Elizabeth Shyldowski is a Republican, which automatically takes her out of the running. That leaves the Battle of the White Gays for the 44th Ward, which includes Boystown and most of the city’s White Gay Resources™.
Tom Tunney, the incumbent and owner of Ann Sather’s restaurant, has done a lot of things for the Ward in terms of development, but that’s also meant pretty intense gentrification. He’s also endorsed by the FOP, which makes him an automatic no for us.
Austin Baidas supports eliminating TIFs, an elected School Board, expanding affordable housing, a $15 minimum wage, and would end TIF subsidies to anti-choice organizations like Presence Health. He sounds pretty progressive, but according to Crain’s he has some ties to Laura Ricketts of the otherwise notoriously Republican Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs. She is a bigtime Democratic donor and an out lesbian and the least objectionable of the Ricketts, for sure. But we thought this was worth noting. (The Ricketts fam has formally endorsed Shyldowksi.) Baidas has also previously given money to Tunney on multiple occasions which is… odd? While his ties to the Ricketts are troubling, and downgrade him from a green to a yellow for us, we’re endorsing Austin Baidas, because he is genuinely more progressive than Tunney.
John S. Arena (Incumbent)
Robert A. Bank
Robert A. Bank is against the consent decree, also against recreational marijuana, and thinks that there is enough affordable housing in his Ward just because some apartments are renting for $600/month. Automatic no. James Gardiner also opposes the consent decree, and is also an automatic no.
This race, for us, comes down to two important issues for us: the Cop Academy, and affordable housing. Marilyn Morales has privately said that she opposes the Cop Academy, which is the only acceptable position to have; however, her public stances on policing are not nearly as strong, and her stance on affordable housing is not as strong as Arena’s.
Arena skipped the vote for the Cop Academy in City Council. Otherwise, he’s voted with Rahm less frequently than almost all the other Aldermen, which means he’s not a yes-man for the establishment and could potentially be a “No” vote in the future, despite the huge Cop constituency in his Ward. His real defining issue is affordable housing. Arena has taken sustained, serious heat from powerful interests in the city for insistence on building affordable housing in the ward. Essentially he’s taking significant professional risk to advocate for a policy that would benefit low income folks across the city, but which is intensely unpopular in his own mostly middle-class ward, and that is fucking laudable.
This presents a challenge for us. But we have to go largely on what the candidates have been willing to say publicly, and for that reason, we’re encouraging folks to vote John Arena for another term.
Erika Wozniak Francis
James Cappleman (Incumbent)
Despite James Cappleman’s current statements claiming to be “very concerned” about the city’s homeless and low-income population, the former residents of the Uptown Tent City remember exactly how that “concern” manifests in his own ward. In fact, he’s so “concerned,” about the homeless and low-income folks across the city, that he allowed thousands of affordable housing units in Uptown to be eliminated, and went so far as to introduce legislation to close 250 units of affordable housing in Uptown, and an additional 450 across the city. His concern was so deep, that he gave out 9 zoning changes and $15.8 million in TIFs from 2015-2017 in exchange for campaign donations. Known as James Crappleman to many of his constituents, this man is not a good choice for anyone.
Justin Kreindler, and Jon-Robert McDowell aren’t going to get much space here because we found them markedly inferior options to the next two candidates.
This race, to us, comes down to Erika Wozniak Francis, Marianne Lalonde, and Angela Clay.
Erika Wozniak Francis has a solidly progressive platform, she’s a CTU organizer, and has a lot of capital “P” progressive endorsements (e.g., Chuy, Our Revolution). She meets many progressive metrics that we’re looking for when writing this guide. Publicly she supports GAPA which is a slightly watered down version of CPAC. She emailed us to say that she also supports CPAC and opposes the Cop Academy. Marianne Lalonde has a similar platform to Wozniak and has some good suggestions for how to change the FOP contract to be more accountable. She also (at least privately) opposes the cop academy.
Our endorsement, however, is going to Angela Clay. The thoroughness of her platform, addressing specific issues and issue groupings that Erika and Marianne do not, and the nature of her policies being left of progressive, put her over the top for us. Clay supports changing the Affordable Requirements Ordinance to require 33% affordable housing units when a development receives TIF support, is explicitly pro-CPAC and anti-Cop Academy on her website, and barring CPD from cooperating with ICE. She has a slew of other progressive and left-of-progressive positions, and is our dream candidate for the 46th Ward.
Heather Way Kitzes
Michael A. Negron
Thomas M. Schwartzers
This is an open race, with incumbent Ameya Pawar declining to run again so that he can run for City Treasurer. That left a mess of nine different candidates running to replace them. Luckily for y’all (and also us), six of those candidates are just… horrible.
Thomas M. Schwartzers is a cop, and doesn’t support the consent decree. Automatic no. Michael Negron worked for Rahm for the last seven years, which makes us really uncomfortable off the bat. Gus Kastafaros doesn’t completely support the consent decree, and even wants to involve the FOP in the process. Automatic no. Heather Way Kitzes works for the heavily Republican Ricketts family, which is incredibly concerning. Kimball Laiden is weirdly pro-cop and his platform seems to be “I am super smart and did well on standardized tests 50 years ago, and so can you” with a heavy helping of all-caps answers on surveys. Also a hard pass.
That leaves Matt Martin, Jeff Jenkins, Eileen Dordek, and Angie Maloney for our consideration.
Jenkins (who we initially reported was in support of building the Cop Academy based on a response to a questionnaire shown to us by friends at the #NoCopAcademy campaign, but Jenkins contacted us himself and said that he does not support the Cop Academy) has extensive experience on schools; he is an avid CTU supporter and actually is a leader in the fight to get an elected School Board through his role as a founding Board Member of Raise Your Hand Action, and he absolutely hates charter schools, and has an extensive record of opposing them inside and outside his Ward. He also genuinely seems to be a pretty independent, and his platform hits a lot of our progressive metrics.
Dordek is a solid progressive candidate who serves on the Boards of Personal PAC and Equality Illinois, and has a handful of endorsements from progressive women in the city, including three members of the Girl, I Guess Favorite Local Elected Technocrats: the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioners. We’ve heard some good things about her, and were even contacted by her campaign to correct our earlier coverage on her stance on charter schools.
Matt Martin is a civil rights attorney running on funding public schools, keeping Chicago affordable, and police accountability. He wants to do away with aldermanic prerogative, supports CPAC and mental-health-related deescalation training for cops, supports an elected School Board, and a moratorium on charter schools, and he really wants to expand affordable housing options in the Ward.
Angie Maloney is a CPS teacher, CTU member, and community activist who meets a lot of our metrics: she supports an elected school board, restraining aldermanic prerogative, and opposes charter schools.
BUT our endorsement is going to go to Matt Martin, because his stances on police accountability and explicit support of CPAC were more comprehensive and clearly progressive than the options that Jenkins, Maloney and Dordek offered, and in a city and an election where policing is such a vital issue, clear commitments on a campaign website to which one can be held accountable make a strong statement for us.
Harry Osterman (Incumbent)
David Earl Williams III
Steph lives in this Ward, and she’s very disappointed in Harry Osterman. He’s actually a pretty progressive guy, and has done a lot to improve community programs and resources in the 48th Ward, especially for underserved youths. The Broadway Armory was one of his really big projects, and it’s a definite benefit to the Ward. He also opposes an increase in charter schools, and is committed to bringing more affordable housing to the 48th Ward. Her disappointment comes when you get to his stances on policing. In several in-person meetings with Osterman over the course of 2018, Steph and others attempted to push him to the left on policing, particularly hoping to get him to support CPAC and oppose the Cop Academy. After hearing about their negative experiences with the police, even police in the Ward, and specifically requesting and reading a copy of the #NoCopAcademy report, Osterman seemed to be moving on his support for the Cop Academy, and he was very nice to Steph and her White friend who were in those meeting. However, as soon as he met with representatives from the campaign, including Black youth, reports from those meetings show that his tone soured, and he doubled down on his support for the Cop Academy, despite the fact that it is opposed by residents of his Ward, and across the city. It was a hugely disappointing moment, and made Steph feel like Osterman cared more about the opinions of the other pro-cop Aldermen than listening to his constituents.
However, Osterman’s opponent David Earl Williams III is a Libertarian and Republican, and just… will not possibly be better overall than the incumbent, even though Williams III opposes the Cop Academy. So we’re endorsing Harry Osterman as the more progressive of the two, but we expect him to do better than the literal Republican running against him, and oppose the Cop Academy in the future.
Joe Moore (Incumbent)
Joe Moore is a Far North Side slimeball whose time on the City Council has long since passed. He’s been in office for 28 years, and has failed to fund or expand affordable housing either in his Ward, or city-wide, despite being Chair of the Housing and Real Estate Committee, which gives him broad authority to do exactly that. He also helped Rahm cover up Laquan McDonald’s murder, and explicitly offered him support when the rest of the city was calling for Rahm’s resignation (guess that’s what $20,000 of mayoral money buys you). Perhaps saddest of all, he frequently takes credit for ward improvements spearheaded by community activists, which means he’s insecure AND greedy for attention.
Maria Hadden, on the other hand, is a woman after our own queer hearts. She’s endorsed by basically every organization and higher-office-holder that we consider relevant for her race, and is fantastically progressive on every issue. She works with BYP100, wants to prioritize investment in neighborhood schools, an elected School Board, maintain the affordable places in the 49th Ward and expand affordable housing, and supports #NoCopAcademy. Most importantly, she actually promises to be a voice for her constituents and interact with them directly, rather than ignore them, or take credit for their ideas as Joe Moore has repeatedly done. #NoMoreJoeMoore, it’s time for Maria Hadden, and we give her one of our most enthusiastic endorsements.
Debra L. Silverstein (Incumbent)
Andrew D. Rowlas
Incumbent Debra Silverstein is a conservative multi-term alderman with a questionable record, a record of corruption, and it’s time for a change. Also (largely irrelevant to her race, but still of note), Debra is the wife of corrupt and disgraced former State Senator Ira Silverstein, who introduced the Illinois anti-BDS bill, which was subsequently passed. Yuck.
Zehra Quadri struck us as someone who does genuine good in her community in her current role, but her stances were strangely conservative, and the more we read about her, and the more we examined her positions, the less we liked her.
Andrew D. Rowlas is a retired public school teacher, and he favors progressive tax policies to increase revenue for the city. He explicitly is in favor of CPAC, is against charter school expansion, and wants to expand affordable housing for the Ward. We’re not wild about his stance on aldermanic term limits, or his endorsement from Lori Lightfoot, of whom we are not a fan, but in this race, he’s the best choice.
We’re back for Round 2, Electric Boogaloo: the super-fun, mega-important April 2nd Runoffs for Chicago Mayor, City Treasurer, and fourteen Aldermanic seats. Fittingly, because Chicago elections are always a bit of a circus, the runoffs are immediately after April Fool’s Day. For reference, runoffs are what happen in Chicago municipal elections when no candidate gets 50% of the vote +1. The top two vote-getters in the first round of the election return to square off for five weeks in a head-to-head election to determine who actually gets elected in April, and takes office in May. Turnout is the name of the game in runoffs, and every single vote is going to count bigtime in these races. There are some seriously amazing chances to put atrocious incumbents out of office, and a great chance to keep a de-facto cop out of City Hall. But these things can still be pretty confusing, and these races are incredibly important, so we’re making this addendum to our guide, just in case, and because Steph did a super comprehensive and incredibly scientific Facebook poll showing people wanted more help. Runoffs are messy, often-ridiculous affairs. We’ll do our best to update this part of the guide as relevant info comes in about these races that might impact our endorsements. As always, if you think we got an aldermanic endorsement wrong, please contact us!
*****Please do us a favor and only contact Steph with updates and opinions until the end of March, because Ellen is on vacation, needs to relax, and will not be checking her email*****
Here we are, in bits of the place that everyone expected us to be, but with a final picture that very few people expected at all. Lori Lightfoot vs Toni Preckwinkle in a winner-take-all, knock-down, drag-out, electoral dustup to decide the next Mayor of our city. No matter who wins, some really amazing history is about to be made: Chicago will have its second Black Mayor, and its first Black woman Mayor. That’s pretty fucking cool, in a race where we were all afraid we’d end up with Crusty Old Man and Cartoon Parody of a Machine Politician Bill Daley.
In the coming weeks, this race is sure to be cast in many ways. Experience vs Reform. Insider vs Outsider. White Gays vs People Who Don’t Vote Based Solely On Identity. We prefer to view the Mayoral runoff through a much simpler lens: Toni Preckwinkle, who is not now, nor has she ever been, a cop vs Lori Lightfoot, who has spent her entire professional career being, in essence, a cop. We at Girl, I Guess don’t like cops very much.
Preckwinkle and Lightfoot don’t have too many super significant policy differences between them (although there are some differences), and a lot of this race is going to come down to their records in their previous jobs, and whether or not we think we can trust them to keep to the stances they’ve taken publicly. The following section will contain our breakdown of the Preckwinkle vs Lightfoot race, and we’ll update it as we get more information, and if/when the candidates’ stances change or get updated during the runoff.
Toni isn’t anywhere close to a perfect candidate. Her machine connections, and her ties to Ed Burke and Joe Berrios are incredibly troubling. Her support for those two, far after most other elected officials in Cook County started to back away, is concerning at best. She’s also passed regressive and WILDLY unpopular taxes (like the soda tax), and then laid off County employees when those taxes didn’t pan out. Her proximity to corruption is not ideal, and there are legitimate questions to be asked about Preckwinkle. She is, however, the best remaining option. Toni currently stands as the best remaining option for progressives in the Mayoral runoff, and while she wasn’t our first choice, there’s a reason we said that voting strategically for her was a solid option.
Her platform is really progressive. Like impressively progressive. She wants to ditch the wildly racist Gang Database, she says she won’t build the Cop Academy and publicly called on Zoning Committee head and Rahm Desk Bobblehead James Cappleman to not allow a vote on the Cop Academy during the Zoning committee before the first round of elections (something which Lori Lightfoot did only after making it to the runoff), she wants an elected School Board, and at least a temporary freeze on charter schools, she wants to lift the ban on rent control, and massively expand affordable housing, especially housing for populations who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness. And while she doesn’t want to abolish aldermanic prerogative, the rest of her platform is good.
She also has an OK record on a couple things: as Cook County Board President, she’s worked to decrease the incarcerated population and, in particular, to divert youth from the justice system. The number of inmates at the Cook County Jail has steadily decreased with Toni as County Board President, and considering how notorious the County Jail is, any reduction there, especially one explicitly supported by a powerful politician, is a very good thing. She was also supportive of bond reform and has a good record on expanding healthcare access in the County. Now, Preckwinkle didn’t do these things on her own; she has needed pressure from organizers to do the right thing, and will need it in the future, but she has responded to pressure and used her existing position and resources to do good things following that pressure, and that’s worth something.
TO BE CLEAR none of this cancels out her clear investment in maintaining the status quo of the Chicago Machine. And it remains to be seen if she’ll actually make good on these campaign promises. Toni will not bring about the kind of real transformation that we all so badly wanted to see from this election, but if she keeps even a fraction of the promises that she made during her campaign, she’ll be a definite step forward from the Emanuel years.
Toni Preckwinkle is our best option in this race. She’s not perfect, and she wasn’t our first choice initially, but she is the best one remaining. We strongly advise you to vote for her in the runoff.
Lori Lightfoot is a Black, lesbian, law-and-order candidate trying to run as a progressive, but is also a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We don’t have a lot of objection to many of Lightfoot’s policies on paper, but her deep ties to police make us distrust her really really intensely.
The biggest issue with Lightfoot is her past as the head of Chicago’s Office of Police Standards under Daley (an investigation into OPS, which covered the time that Lori was there, found a lenient pattern toward police officers, including routinely finding police-involved shootings to be justified) and the Police Board under Rahm. This means that the current state of policing in Chicago falls at least partially on her shoulders, and that state is… really really really bad.
While she was leading the Police Board, it delayed a decision for over a year, about whether to discipline Dante Servin for the murder of Rekia Boyd. Ultimately, Servin resigned right before that hearing would have taken place and therefore was able to keep his pension and avoid real discipline. (I recommend reading BYP100’s take on Lori here and this thread from Agitator In Chief.) During Police Board meetings, where activists from BYP 100 demanded that the Board fire Servin without a pension, a video documents Lightfoot siccing police on young Black protestors, and adjourning a meeting rather than hearing their demands, or interacting with members of the community. Multiple reports have surfaced on social media from sources that we trust (mostly community organizers or individuals who were present at the proceedings in question) that recount Lightfoot callously disrespecting the families of victims of police brutality, and threatening to remove them from Police Board proceedings by force, including the families of Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson, Rekia Boyd (as documented above), and Bettie Jones. Multiple other reports allege that meetings often had to be ended early because Lightfoot left families in tears.
Lightfoot also defended the cops against brutality lawsuits during her time working for the law firm Mayer Brown, including the infamous case of Christina Eilman. Early in her career, Lori literally lied in court to have somebody extradited (AKA deported into the hands of another country’s law enforcement). The case in question, for which she received a very rare reprimand from a Federal court, is Lindstrom v. Graber, 204 F3d 470 (7th Cir. 2000). With Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city a major issue in the election, and with the current Presidential administration, we are highly suspicious of Lightfoot’s actions in support of deportation in the past.
She also suggested during a televised debate that a solution for the City’s rising costs on the settlements of police brutality lawsuits would be to defend some of those suits, which is beyond disturbing. A position like that implies that Lightfoot thinks that residents occasionally sue the city for police brutality just for the money, and that’s an abhorrent take for a potential Mayor to have.
“WAIT but maybe prosecutors are good!”
BXTCH THEY ARE NOT.
“But they can take down corrupt politicians!”
THEY ARE ALSO COPS.
“But Lori Lightfoot is a take-no-shit reformer who will shake up City Hall!!”
SHE IS NOT!!! There is a reason both Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel appointed her to top positions in their administrations. Being a “reformer” who keeps getting appointed by people in need of reform isn’t the best look.
Lori Lightfoot is BAD news. If you care about police accountability, prison reform, or racial justice issues related to policing in any way, Lori Lightfoot has a track record, both old and recent, to be extremely wary of. Lori Lightfoot has already been in a position of immense power in Chicago, and it is well documented that she used her power to shield police from accountability, and to shame and sometimes intimidate the families of victims. She is not a progressive, and we strongly advise not voting for her. Thanks… again.
The City Treasurer is Chicago’s municipal banker and primary financial steward. They receive all money belonging to the city and are responsible for maintaining records and accounts, while also providing reports on city spending. This is the money position.
Melissa Conyears-Ervin is a progressive-ish two-term incumbent in the Illinois General Assembly, serving the 10th District. She’s got a lot of union endorsements, but her platform is much less specific than that of Pawar. She’s also married to Alderman Ervin, to whom we gave a red light in the first round.
Ameya Pawar’s big distinction is his initial proposal and continued support of a City Bank of Chicago, and wanting to use the Office of the Treasurer to empower and and advocate for poor people in the city through creating an Office of Economic Empowerment, which would address issues of housing, debt, employment, and general economic stability. We like the ambitiousness and systemic thinking here (although to be clear, there would be a lot of hurdles to establish the bank, including changing the law). We also like that Pawar wants the city do divest from fossil fuel. Finally, we like the work that Pawar has done advocating for Universal Basic Income. The problem is, Pawar talked a big progressive game when he first ran for alderman, too, and then wound up rolling right over for Rahm in city council (as so many do. sigh). We gave him a yellow light the first time around, but we like him better than Conyears-Ervin, so he gets our nod for the runoff.
Here we are again, folks… runoff season. There are fourteen runoffs for Aldermanic seats, which on its face is really amazing. That’s over a full quarter of the City Council, and there are some pretty nasty incumbents who needed to be feeling the heat caught up in these crucial races. Runoffs are stressful. They often mean the difference between a true progressive being elected, or a terrible machine candidate or incumbent. We’ve got a lot of feelings about these races!!
Accordingly, these runoffs run the gamut in excitement and candidate progressiveness, too. There are races that feel like a surefire choice between a progressive and a more machine or centrist candidate. Then there are those that might make you grimace a little, but where there’s one candidate that stands out. And unfortunately, there are also races that feel like they’re asking you to make a choice that feels like you’re picking between rancid gym socks and “oh shit this casserole is from Thanksgiving and it’s now New Year’s” fridge cleaning. For convenience, we’ll simplify these races into The Score-able, The Snore-able, and The Absolutely Horrible.
These are races in which one of the candidates was a green endorsee in the first round of elections, or, in the case of the 5th, 40th and 46th Wards, has a yellow endorsee facing off against a particularly egregious incumbent. If the progressive wins in these races, it would be a major score for progressive politics in Chicago, and help shift the City Council in a new direction. Because of the nature of the matchups, a lot of these races are pretty straightforward, so we’re going to keep most of these descriptions brief!
First round green endorsee Rafa Yañez was able to force Rahm acolyte and shame upon gays Raymond Lopez to a runoff, but just barely. Lopez still got 49.2% of the vote, so Yañez is going to need to do some serious turnout in the 15th Ward. This is still winnable for him, though, because it’s a runoff, and anything can happen. Check out our initial endorsement of Rafa Yañez if you’re interested in why you should keep voting for him!
First round green endorsee Jeanette Taylor made it to the runoff, and is facing off against Chance The Rapper-supported Nicole Johnson, whose platform is solid, but whose ties to the University of Chicago are concerning, especially because the University is a major gentrifying force in the ward. Honestly, no matter who wins this runoff, the result will produce an Alderwoman who is a significant improvement over incumbent Willie B. Cochran, who is a noted salesman of political snake oil and currently facing a trial on corruption charges. It would be a particularly Chicago kind of poetic justice to replace a corrupt incumbent with a badass radical organizer, and we would still follow Jeanette to hell and back. Check out our initial endorsement of Jeanette Taylor if you’re interested in why you should keep voting for her!
This race is giving us both a headache. Inter-campaign squabbling galore, a metric fuckton of rumors about candidates, both true and false, and shady practices and machine ties left and right have turned our feelings about the 25th Ward election from intense excitement to irritated screeching. In our defense, it’s hard to sustain excitement about a race that has just been… nasty, in so many ways. That being said! We’re definitely excited that green endorsee Byron Sigcho-Lopez was the leading candidate out of the runoff, and will be facing off against discount supervillain sidekick, machine family heir, and Fraternal Order of Police endorsee Alex Acevedo. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this race, because even if you have some issues with Byron, he’s far and away the more progressive candidate. Check out Ellen’s amazing in-depth coverage of her home ward from the first round to learn more!!
Another runoff, another slimy incumbent that could get kicked to the curb! This race pits Rahm ally and generically gross Alderman Ariel Reboyras against green endorsee and progressive badass Jessica Gutierrez. While we’re still side-eyeing her for moving to Israel for graduate school (even though she made up for it by doing actual work with Palestinians that treated them as, you know, human beings and basic dignity), that’s no reason to vote against her in this race. She’s running for City Council, not Congress, and her bona fide progressive platform (which hits all of our progressive metrics and them some) and impressive organizing record are more than enough to earn the benefit of the doubt. Vote Jessica Gutierrez! And learn more about this race from our first round coverage!!
This is now one of Steph’s favorite races, because incumbent and runoff candidate Deb Mell got super salty when we referred to her as a “disservice to dykes”. Which… honestly, we’re gonna stand by that one. Deb Mell has spent a ton of time kowtowing to Rahm and gentrifying the hell out of her ward, and that’s a bad look for someone who claims to be progressive and tosses out her lesbian identity as a shield pretty routinely. She’s also still a defiler of bowties. Consider us firmly in the #DykesAgainstDebMell camp. Thankfully, her opponent in the runoff, green endorsee Rossana Rodriguez, is AMAZING. And actually got more votes than Mell did in the first round of the election, which is a fantastic sign, because the third candidate in the race was running to the left of the incumbent. We absolutely love Rossana, and as we noted the first time around, she’s fought against ICE, evictions, and wants to be an accomplice to organizing from her spot in City Hall if she wins. Keep voting for Rossana Rodriguez!!
PS: Recently, a group of queer and trans activists (including Steph) who are affiliated with the #NoCopAcademy campaign visited one of Deb Mell’s ward offices to protest and demand she vote against he Cop Academy in the Zoning Committee. She was so afraid to talk to queer and trans people that she had her office staff lock the doors on the protestors, and filmed the demonstration on her phone from her car before driving off after she was noticed. We can’t make this shit up.
The writing may finally be on the wall for Pat O’Connor, 36-year incumbent and physical embodiment of a racist joke. He got a paltry 33.3% of the vote against a slate of four challengers, all running to his left. It’s time for one of everyone’s least favorite aldermen to go, and for the City Council to finally be rid of one of the key players in the infamous and disastrous parking meter deal. His challenger in this race is Andre Vasquez, who we gave a yellow rating the first time around, but this time we’re giving him our full confidence and endorsement.
Andre Vasquez is an extremely progressive, DSA-style candidate who hits all of our progressive metrics. He’s against the Cop Academy, for an elected school board and a moratorium on charter schools, he wants a $15 minimum wage, an expansion of affordable housing, an abolishment of aldermanic prerogative, and has a slew of other progressive positions. In the first round, we preferred Ugo Okere, whose platform was extremely similar to Andre’s, but we appreciated Ugo’s thoroughness and accessibility in his positions, most of which were clearly and thoroughly outlined on his campaign website. Andre’s positions wound up being pretty much the same, but we had to dig through candidate statements and questionnaires to find that out, and that’s something the average voter wouldn’t be able to do if they wanted to hold Andre accountable, should he win the runoff. We’ve also got some concerns about misogyny in his rap lyrics, from his time as a battle rapper (Yes, really. Elections are weird sometimes.), but while these concerns are real, we still think that Andre Vasquez is miles better than Pat O’Connor and definitely deserves your vote as a legit progressive.
Ahhhh, the gay shame abounds in this runoff. James Cappleman, noted homosexual, hater of homeless people, and besmircher of the social work profession, is in a runoff for his political life against… Marianne Lalonde, a scientist (PhD in Chemistry? Impressive!) who is turning politician in the hopes of unseating one of the North Side’s most reviled elected officials. She emerged from a pack of candidates challenging Cappleman from the left, and the top three candidates in that group split over 50% of the vote pretty evenly between them, and were quite similar overall, which is good news for Lalonde, and deliciously bad news for Cappleman.
We’ll be honest, Lalonde was not the candidate that we anticipated making it to the runoff, but we did give her a yellow endorsement in the first round because we thought her platform was solid, and we were particularly impressed by her ideas to hold the FOP more accountable in their contract. In the first round, we gave our green endorsement to Leftist candidate Angela Clay, and we really hope that Lalonde adopts some of Clay’s positions, because we really loved Clay’s platform, and think she had some great ideas. Lalonde is a good candidate in her own right. She wants an elected school board, supports CPAC and (at least privately) opposes the Cop Academy, and she wants to expand affordable housing, which is a huge thing in the 46th Ward, and ticks a ton of other progressive boxes. Lalonde’s endorsement by Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot is concerning to us, because we’re not fans of her at all, but Lalonde has several other endorsements from progressive groups, which is impressive in a crowded field.
“Impressive” is a word that keeps coming up for us when we’re talking about Marianne Lalonde, and honestly… she really fits it! A PhD who is really involved in some of the finer, nitty-gritty aspects of her community, and is now running against a very unpopular incumbent. We’re advising folks to turn out and vote for Marianne Lalonde!
This one is a pretty easy one!! First round green endorsee Matt Martin ran a great race, and emerged from a veritable clown car of nine candidates angling to replace Ameya Pawar (who we’ve endorsed for City Treasurer!) with almost 40% of the vote. That’s pretty cool for a non-incumbent in a field that large, and his runoff opponent is Michael A. Negron, who worked for Rahm for seven years before running for this seat. That sure smells like a machine candidate, and anyone with that much Rahm history certainly can’t be good. We advise checking out our first round coverage for more information, and casting your ballot for Matt Martin in the runoff!
These are the runoffs where you might fall asleep a little trying to figure out which candidate is the more progressive one. Usually, the secret answer is that neither candidate is progressive at all, that they both suck in some substantive ways, and that one of them is just slightly less smarmy than the other. These two races are less exciting than the Mayoral runoff, but they’re worth voting for, because that’s the point!!
This runoff pits horrible incumbent Leslie Hairston against community activist and first round yellow endorsee William Calloway. Hairston opposes the Obama Center CBA, voted to close half the city’s mental health clinics, and has been repeatedly silent on multiple CPD murders of Black men in her ward. She’s needed to be replaced for a long time. Calloway is… not perfect. Many of you have probably seen and are concerned about the revelation that Calloway made a series of very homophobic Facebook posts back in 2015 when the supreme court decided that gay marriage was legal. The candidate has since apologized for those posts but his apology is honestly pretty weak. That said, we know that watershed events like the Obergefell decision often end up being turning points at which people get educated about their homophobia (or other biases). That said, we spoke with members of the radical queer organizing community who have done work with Will since these posts, and they say that he has learned and apologized to people he harmed within the community. As queer women ourselves we don’t take Will’s homophobia lightly, but we also do trust that he has been taught and held accountable by his community and we don’t think these old Facebook posts disqualify him as a progressive candidate.
Unfortunately, there are other issues at play here, too. Will recently endorsed Lori Lightfoot for mayor which puts him extremely out of step with the other organizers in Chicago pushing for criminal justice reform. (See the #StopLightfoot campaign put together by radical youth organizers). Plus, one reason we didn’t give Will a green endorsement last time around — despite his strong background as an activist for criminal justice reform — is a press conference he gave back in January after Jason Van Dyke’s co-conspirators in the coverup of Laquan McDonald’s murder were acquitted.
As we noted the first time around, Calloway gave a press conference in front of the courthouse saying “Don’t protest. Don’t take to the streets. It's time that we take to the polls." He repeated this line multiple times and… we find this really confusing and concerning. It was (in part) Calloway’s own acts of protest that made Laquan’s murder a national story and forced police misconduct out in the open. And the fact that he is now discouraging protest and encouraging instead an investment in electoral politics (at a time where he is conveniently running for office) makes us worried that Calloway is in fact more interested in his own rising star than true movement work. This was a red flag for us the first time, and, coupled with his support for Lightfoot, makes us question his radical credentials. Still, he does have a strong platform and strong ties to organizers who will hold him accountable. We think he will be much easier to push than Hairston and we still endorse William Calloway with some skepticism.
Marvin McNeil successfully took incumbent Howard Brookins, Jr. to a runoff, which we honestly didn’t think was going to happen, but it did, so… here we are. We’re judging this race the same as we did during the first round, when we gave McNeil a yellow endorsement. Brookins, Jr is an incumbent who was in need of a runoff to push him to the left on a thing or two, and while we’re not sure if McNeil can pull it off, we think he’d be an improvement if he did. Marvin McNeil is pretty far from progressive, but he hits enough of our metrics to get a second round endorsement. Feel free to check out our first round coverage if you want more info!
This race is largely a rematch of the first round, to see who will replace Margaret Laurino in the City Council. Our takes on candidates Samantha Nugent and Robert Murphy remain the same, too. Nugent is a machine candidate with Madigan Lite ties, and some bad takes on the Consent Decree. She doesn’t like charter schools, and wants an elected School Board, but we don’t trust her. Robert Murphy has some of the same problems in terms of pro-police stances, but he’s also got a nice chunk of progressive endorsements from sources that we trust, and standard progressive policies otherwise. Murphy isn’t our perfect candidate, but he’s our pick for the runoff. See our first round coverage for more in-depth analysis!
We’re… we’re just so sorry. Something has gone terribly wrong. The electoral spirits were not with the progressive agenda in these races, and just… yikes. Yikes on bikes. None of these choices are good. Please show up to the polls on April 2nd to vote in the Mayoral and City Treasurer runoffs but… we can’t in good conscience suggest you vote for either of the candidates in these races. However, if you feel so inclined, we’ll do analysis so you can make your best worst pick.
Whoof. This is what happens when an incumbent doesn’t bother to run a serious re-election campaign, and gets electorally smacked by the daughter of a former alderwoman. Unfortunately, both of these candidates are just… the same kind of meh. Toni Foulkes, the incumbent, has no platform to speak of, because she didn’t really try, so lol. Stephanie Coleman has pretty standard incumbent positions (which is weird because she isn’t an incumbent, but go off we guess); she supports the elected School Board, but is also pro-charter (she took money from a pro-charter PAC), supports the consent decree but also supports police, and wants to maintain aldermanic privilege. Yellow endorsee Eddie Johnson III was knocked out in the first round, and everyone else in the race got a red rating from us. Base your decision on something completely arbitrary, because we really don’t see much difference between the two candidates.
Oy vey. With first round yellow endorsee Colin Bird-Martinez knocked out, this race has gone to the birds (lolsob). Milly Santiago is a full-blown disaster of an incumbent, with a ridiculous plan to charge a bicycle registration fee, close ties to the police, is pro-charter school, and wants to greatly increase penalties for illegal handgun possession. No thank you. The other candidate, Felix Cardona, Jr, worked for living corruption textbook Joe Berrios, and is super pro-police. We suggest using a random number generator, so you don’t have to take responsibility for this decision, if you decide to make it.
The race to see who can pander the most to cops is on! Incumbent Michele Smith and challenger Derek Lindblom both have serious red flags when it comes to policing. Lindblom thinks the Consent Decree creates additional bureaucracy, whereas Smith wants to make sure “crime has consequences” in the ward again, which… gross. Lindblom also threw support behind that “limit the number of Aldermen” plan advanced by living cartoon “womp womp” sound Bill Daley, which we think is silly, and also makes him look foolish because… he knows he’d have to run for office again, right? Not super smart. Their stances on schools and the School Board are pretty similar, and we strongly dislike both of these candidates (yellow endorsees Jacob Ringer and Rebecca Janowitz were knocked out in the first round). Toss a coin or write in Angela Davis or someone local and cool.