2023 Endorsements - West Side, Wards 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 36, 37
Updated: Feb 9
Endorsements part 3 continues to the West Side, mostly full of incumbent establishment alders not facing much serious challenge. Check out the About page for endorsement criteria.
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The most competitive races are in the single open seat and the ward that wins the award for "most petty map-drawing":
Ward 26- Jessie Fuentes
Humboldt Park's 26th Ward is open as Alder Roberto Maldonado is exiting the council. Jessie Fuentes is a young organizer, longtime resident, and director of policy and youth advocacy for the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and is running to represent the community. She's spent years working with young people in the community, including ten as a dean of students. Now as a candidate, she is pursuing the good of those young people and her neighborhood through a policy platform including the Treatment Not Trauma ordinance, increased investment in mental health treatment and community programs that invest in combating the causes of crime, following the lead of other progressive alders in forming a community-driven zoning process and advocating for more affordable housing, promoting financial literacy, reforming education funding models, and building up staffing in schools for restorative justice systems. Many progressive groups are on board, as well as a variety of major unions, including more establishment ones. This is a strong campaign with a deeply rooted local leader at its core.
Other candidates include Angee Gonzalez Rodriguez, who was elected ward Democratic committeeperson (but that may be more a sign of anti-Maldonado sentiment than a strong campaign apparatus) and should be relevant in this race, and Julian "Jumpin" Perez, neither of whom have the same credible campaign and progressive platform that Fuentes has.
See more at jessiefor26thward.com.
36th Ward- Lori Torres Whitt
The 36th ward has been called a pool noodle and slammed as a "slap in the face", as it stretches in a narrow line across the city from Montclare on the Northwest Side to Ukrainian Village nearly downtown. It was drawn by the makers of the current ward map to punish Alder Gil Villegas who led the Latino Caucus's map-drawing efforts and oppose the majority map. This is the most flagrant example of the ways the new map (like many before it) is a disservice to residents. A non-compact ward dilutes the voices of the people by separating residents with common concerns into separate wards, makes city services delivered on a ward basis (like trash pickup) terribly wasteful and inefficient, puts residents far from their ward offices, and undermines the sense of community identity that overlapping ward and community area boundaries can create. I'm no fan of Alder Villegas, who was initially Mayor Lightfoot's floor leader and ran a decidedly anti-progressive failed congressional campaign against now-Congresswoman Delia Ramirez, but this map doesn't just punish him, it punishes his constituents who will have to live with the situation for the next decade. The Latino Caucus map was far more fair anyway, but the Mayor and her allies were able to bully and cut enough deals to get their map passed, and many progressives are at fault for going along with the plan in order to protect their own interests.
The good news is that this ward does have a good candidate about whom its residents can be excited. Lori Torres Whitt is a teacher of 23 years, activist, and Chicago Teachers Union leader. Her site is a bit sparse on policy specifics, but she touts education and affordable housing activism, promises better ward services (which will be tough in this ward) and piloting of a mental health crisis response team like those started in other wards, and is endorsed by CTU, Cook County College Teachers Union, United Working Familes, and fairly progressive officeholders like Delia Ramirez and Omar Aquino (both of whom have run against Gil Villegas, so that may also be part of the reason for endorsements). I'd like to see more policy specifics here, but Whitt seems to be on the right side of the continued divide among Latino politicians.
Villegas is still in a strong position here, but the new map and Whitt's CTU backing create an opening. It's also interesting to note that Villegas is one of the only alders backing Chuy Garcia so far, which is an interesting pairing that seems to say more about the concerns we should have about Chuy than any progressive leanings from Villegas.
Also running is David Herrera, a West Town resident involved in real estate who ran in 2019 in the 26th ward, and Jackie Baez, a Montclare resident involved in various community roles including as a community policing ambassador.
See more at torresfor36.com.
Next, two incumbent alders on the west edge of the city that face some competition but likely don't have cause for concern:
24th Ward- No Endorsement
The 24th Ward in North Lawndale had been represented by Alder Michael Scott until he left to work for a media company and Mayor Lightfoot appointed his sister, Monique Scott to the position. Though she is a long-time resident and has been a park supervisor, she doesn't seem the most likely candidate to bring progressive values to the council. However, there's no credible progressive challenge. Traci "Treasure" Johnson ran in 2019 and is running again but it is hard to find much evidence of a campaign, though what is left of the online presence of her last campaign suggests she has good values. Drewone Goldsmith seems to have a strong background in the community and to be more organized, with a somewhat progressive platform, but he doesn't have the fundraising and backing to present a real challenge or to receive an endorsement here. Luther Woodruff is the most credible challenge to the recently-appointed Scott as he has Teamsters Union backing, but that backing itself is typically a sign of a concerning center-right campaign. Also running is Creative Scott, a business owner who ran in 2019 and doesn't seem to have a strong campaign this time around, Vetress Boyce, Edward Ward, and Larry Nelson.
[Update 2/9/23- After finding more information on Edward Ward, a restorative justice counselor in CPS, he definitely is the most progressive candidate in this race. I'm unsure he has the experience to be a great alder yet, and he doesn't have any kind of platform on his site, but if you're just looking to vote for the most progressive ideological option- it's Ward.]
29th Ward- No Endorsement
Alder Chris Taliaferro is running for reelection, after trying to leave the job and run for a judge position which he failed to win in the 2022 primaries. A former police officer, he is now chair of the public safety committee and has pressured Mayor Lightfoot and CPD on some issues but falls far short of what progressives would hope to see. His most significant challenge likely comes from C.B. Johnson who has worked on anti-drug campaigns in the past and doesn't seem to have a very significant and organized campaign but does have the backing of Congressman Danny Davis, which could come with some real organizing muscle. Also running is Corey Dooley.
Finally the last four West Side wards feature little or no opposition to the sitting alders:
22nd Ward- Michael Rodriguez
In Little Village's 22nd Ward, first-term Alder Michael Rodriguez has been a popular leader for his ward and solidly progressive member of City Council. He's been a key proponent of good progressive legislation and quickly become a leader among politicians in the Progressive Reform Caucus as well as the Cook County Democratic Party. His platform lists most, though not all, of the major progressive ideas supported by this year's candidates (he's a bit more cautious on public safety proposals than some of his North Side colleagues, but was involved with the compromise police oversight proposal that did pass the council), and he seems very competent and knowledgeable. He continues to have a wide range of solid leaders and organizations backing him and faces only minor opposition in Neftalie Gonzalez and Kristian Armendariz.
See more at mikerodriguez.org.
28th Ward- No Endorsement
I previously lived in the 28th Ward and was not at all impressed with Alder Jason Ervin. He and his wife, City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, have had various controversies and ethics concerns floating around them for years. He never seemed to me to have a strong handle on issues in the ward, and now, after somehow becoming chair of the council's Black Caucus, he was a key leader in the development of the new unfair, inefficient, petty, self-serving ward map and has been an ally of Mayor Lightfoot in much of her term. Sadly, he doesn't face a strong challenger and was able to knock nearly all of his opponents off the ballot, except Shawn Walker, who still faces a petition challenge at the time of this writing. Hopefully the future holds a good challenger for Jason Ervin, but he looks safe for 2023.
37th Ward- No Endorsement
Alder Emma Mitts, representing parts of Austin and West Humboldt Park, also faces only minor challenges, from Howard Ray, Jake Towers, and Corey Braddock. I'd hoped for a more significant challenge, as she's backed charter school expansion, private lot parking booting expansion, a new police training facility in her ward, and much of Mayor Lightfoot's agenda, including the casino. Maybe 2027 will bring a stronger challenge.
27th Ward- No Endorsement
Alder Walter Burnett is unopposed, which is shocking considering his missing $300,000 in campaign money, his selling-out of the affordable housing advocacy he's supposedly known for amid the massive luxury expansion in his ward, owning a drug/gang house, his flip-flopping on a casino after initially not wanting it in his ward then deciding to support it, though he knows it will largely impact seniors (does he really care a massive company is taking these seniors' money?) and raising concerns about not trusting Bally's minority hiring claims then backing the proposal again the next day. To me, Burnett seems like one of the most self-interested members of the council, and he covers it all in constant performative religious expression, which I particularly detest as he enriches himself and sells out his community at the same time, misrepresenting the God he portrays himself as following so closely. The massive expansion and wealth coming into the rich parts of his ward will surely make it expensive for a future challenger to run a strong campaign against him, but I hope someone steps up.
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