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2023 Endorsements- Southwest Side, Wards 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23

Updated: Feb 9

Here are endorsements for the Southwest Side, part 4 of this 2023 series. One race stands out, but a few incumbents could potentially get a surprise. Check out the About page for endorsement criteria.

I'm just an individual person doing research. I hope this is a helpful resource to people, especially those wanting to participate by voting but without the time to heavily research or engage. If you're someone deeply involved in your local elections and organizing, I doubt you need what I have to say- you know your community and election better than I do. If you think I've gotten something wrong (or right!), keeping the values on the About page in mind, I want to hear from you about it and take your input into consideration. Please comment or use the chat tool!

First, the headliner:

14th Ward- Jeylú Gutiérrez

Ed Burke is leaving! Mired in corruption scandal and pending trials, the 50+ year alder is finally leaving, seeing an upcoming election he finally would lose. Emblem of machine corruption and everything progressive since well before Harold Washington, it will be good to have a new face of the 14th ward in Gage Park and Archer Heights (though I must say I at least appreciated the vote against the casino). Jeylú Gutiérrez prominently advertises herself as aligned with Chuy García, Aarón Ortíz, and Alma Anaya, part of the new Chuy machine that has been uprooting the Burke-and-friends mostly Irish machine from the southwest side and replacing it with a more progressive Latino network of leaders. She is the District Director for Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya. I think staffers of elected officials are often strong choices for open seats. They already know how things work, know what the job entails, know the community, know the stakeholders, and know how to make change. Anaya has seemed to be on the right side of issues and that's a good sign for Gutiérrez. An immigrant from Mexico, previously a Community Liaison with Chicago Public schools, a former Local School Council member, and a mother of young children, she knows her community's needs well. Her platform is not very extensive (but most aren't outside north side progressives and liberals, as we'll see in coming posts), but she notes the issues significant to the community and takes decently formed and acceptable stances.

Her opponent is Raul Reyes, a former Burke political operative and current employee of City Clerk Anna Valencia (part of the Madigan-connected, anti-Chuy recently-elected Latina officials). Those are bad signs and he doesn't really have any online presence. Gutiérrez seems likely to win here.

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Next, six incumbents likely to win. The first four may face more of a challenge, and I have an endorsed challenger to each of them:

15th Ward- Vicko Alvarez

The 15th Ward is another one whose borders were drawn with punishment in mind. Alder Raymond Lopez has been a thorn in Mayor Lightfoot's side, and his community was punished for it, with a ward that looks like spaghetti splattered across six different neighborhoods. Lopez had a short-lived run for mayor, probably mostly to troll Lightfoot, but then decided to stick with running for reelection in his ward, probably seeing trolling was already covered by Willie Wilson.

Vicko Alvarez is the opponent I endorse here. Currently Chief of Staff for Alder Rossana Rodriguez, she knows what running a ward office and doing the work of city council looks like and she's the right person to get it done. She's been a labor organizer, artist, and after-school arts instructor. She was also part of organizing a mutual aid group in her community during the pandemic. Her platform lists a strong set of proposed public services, support for the Treatment Not Trauma ordinance and a non-police mental health crisis response team, community-driven zoning, as well as education, environmental, and labor justice policies. She even mentions a favorite of mine- making it easier for worker-owned businesses to be formed and operate in the city.

Lopez has been mostly a challenge to Mayor Lightfoot from the political right, with more tough-on-crime and pro-police-expansion policy positions. I did appreciate his vote against the casino, but Alvarez is the much better choice here. Also running is Gloria Williams, a West Englewood non-profit leader who has been an active leader and caregiver among her neighbors.

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18th Ward- Heather Wills

It's sad when a basic measure of competence has to be, "If you are a gun safety trainer, can you avoid accidentally shooting yourself with a gun and also can you prevent your adult son accidentally shooting his adult sister in the middle of your gun safety training?" But that's where we are with Derrick Curtis. (Or was it Curtis, rather than his son, that had the gun that fired and wounded his daughter? His daughter and son had different accounts to police.) Thankfully its seems he and his daughter are both fine at this point. Alder Curtis has been a Lori Lightfoot ally (though he's reconsidering since she didn't call him when he accidentally shot himself), and hasn't seemed to do much else (except get fined for an ethics violation).

His opponent in Ashburn's 18th Ward race is Heather Wills, a healthcare union organizer, ordained minister, and activist involved in a variety of community organizations. Her site has a fairly minimal platform of good, non-controversial ideas that aren't exactly innovative but her affiliations suggest she'd be much more likely than Curtis to be both reasonably competent and an ally to progressives.

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19th Ward- Tim Noonan

Beverly and Mount Greenwood's 19th Ward is a conservative bastion of police and other city workers, one of the most Trump-supportive corners of the city. Alder Matt O'Shea has generally reflected this outlook in the City Council, though I think more reasonably than his Northwest Side police/fire-backed colleagues. Apparently it hasn't been conservative enough, as he faces a right-wing challenge from retired CPD detective and sergeant Mike Cummings. That's the real matchup here, but I'm endorsing Tim Noonan, a IT consultant and activist who got involved in the fight to prevent school closings in the neighborhood, which seems to have been successful and fruitful as the schools are now thriving, and who also helped start a significant pandemic food pantry and a mutual aid group which have served the community well. He's promoting increased mental-health-based approaches to public safety and more participatory ward processes, and has spent significant time fighting book bans and getting marginalized voices represented. He's an unexpected but pleasantly surprising candidate for this ward, and I hope he can pull off a surprise.

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23rd Ward- Eddie Guillen

The 23rd Ward, covering the area north of Midway as well as a strip just east in West Lawn, has transformed from an Irish-Polish enclave and Mike Madigan stronghold to a predominantly Latino community with a still-significant police and city worker presence. Alder Silvana Tabares, once a Madigan ally in the Illinois General Assembly, has since had some tension with Madigan, but remains solidly establishment and is significantly backed by the city's police union. She is challenged by Eddie Guillen, a small business owner and activist. He was Chief of Staff to Rep. Angie Guerrero-Cuellar, who has herself been in the middle of the tug-of-war between Tabares and Madigan, and I have some hesitations about him because of questions about connections to Madigan. His platform is not a progressive wish list, but it seems he has a good head on his shoulders, has seen elected offices up-close, is engaged with the community, and has generally good values for a potential official. I'm concerned about some things like his support for more spending on surveillance tools for police, but I still think he will be the better choice here.

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Our last two incumbents seem pretty safe, and the final race is unopposed:

13th Ward- Paul Bruton

The 13th Ward, including the rest of the areas immediately surrounding Midway, is represented by Alder Marty Quinn, a close ally of Madigan and Burke and one of the last ones of those still surviving in this area. This ward is also a traditional Madigan stronghold, fairly conservative and police-heavy, though increasingly Latino. He's likely to win again easily here, but Paul Bruton is a respectable and courageous challenger (better than some we've seen here- like the Republican teenager with abuse allegations and a messy and ultimately dismissed legal battle with Quinn and Madigan).

Bruton is a former staffer in the Chicago Inspector General's office, a stay-at-home dad, and holder of a Master's in Public Policy. Even in this ward, he's campaigning with a platform of police reform, mental health crisis response teams, clear police discipline processes, removal of the tools alders have used for corruption, environmental focus, and pedestrian/bike infrastructure improvement. He provides detailed resources for his proposals and seems like he'd be a very competent alder. He's probably much too progressive for the ward though and likely won't have the resources for a strong campaign against someone like Quinn.

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16th Ward- [Update 2/9: Stephanie Coleman]

In the 16th Ward, covering parts of Englewood, West Englewood, and Chicago Lawn, first-term Alder Stephanie Coleman faces two opponents. Otis Woods would likely have received an endorsement here, but Coleman managed to knock him off the ballot through petition signature challenges. Coleman seems to have been fairly competent and active, but is solidly establishment centrist, backing a variety of approaches that I do not like. Challenger Carolynn Crump is a police officer who received strong support from the police union in her previous run for state representative and seems likely to be a voice of the police union if elected. Challenger Eddie Johnson ran in 2019 and doesn't seem to have all that much of a campaign this time around.

[Update 2/9/23 - after continuing to research this race, Alder Coleman seems to clearly be the most competent and progressive (though she's not that progressive) choice in this race, and needs to be returned to office in the 16th. She would be far better than her opponents in this race.]

17th Ward- David Moore

In the 17th Ward, David Moore is running unopposed for a third term. He has been a solid progressive-ish alder who I respect, both in his stances and the character he seems to demonstrate. He had a failed run for Secretary of State in last year's primary but will continue to serve on City Council.

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