Grassroot Support Builds For Candidates Seeking to Give Voice to Neighborhood Residents

Grassroots Illinois Action Endorses Slate of Progressive Candidates Committed to Neighborhood Investment and Democratizing Chicago Public Schools

CHICAGO, IL – Grassroots Illinois Action (GIA) publicly endorsed Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia for Mayor of Chicago, and twenty-three Aldermanic Candidates ready to take on Mayor Emanuel and a rubber-stamp City Council.

“This is an incredibly important election. After years of having resources stripped away from our neighborhoods, we have a chance put a real progressive champion into the 5th Floor at City Hall, and elect a City Council that truly listens to neighborhood residents,” opened Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Illinois Action. “We are proud to stand with candidates standing up for working families.”

Mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia was not able to attend the press conference due to this morning’s debate running long but issued a statement saying,  “I am honored to have earned the endorsement of Grassroots Illinois Action. Their incredible work to unite working families to build independent political power for our communities is what I have built my career on. Shining the spotlight on Emanuel’s TIF slush fund is a shared priority. While our neighborhoods get vacant buildings, closed schools and neglect, downtown continues to flourish. This is how Chicago works under Emanuel.”

During the press conference, GIA members shared how their communities have been impacted by four years of an unchecked Emanuel administration. “Every day I see the vacant houses, schools deprived of the resources they need, and neighbors struggling just to get by. I see the city putting up red light cameras, increasing fees, and upping our utilities. Meanwhile they take millions of dollars of our tax money, money that should be going to schools, and put it into downtown. Is that what Rahm calls tough decisions? Brighton Park deserves better than that, and Chicago deserves better than that,” said Anita Caballero, Grassroots Illinois Action member and resident of the 12th Ward.

Gayle Sturm, 26th Ward GIA member and former Parent Mentor at Ames Middle School, explained how Alderman Maldonado and CPS ignored parents and neighborhood residents, turning Ames Middle School into a Military Academy despite strong community support for keeping it a neighborhood school.

“We talked with people in the neighborhood and knew this was not what people wanted. I helped put an advisory referendum on the ballot, and though 2 out of 3 voters said no to a military academy, they did it anyway,” said Gayle. “I’m part of the Local School Council and have been to more School Board meetings than I can count, and I’ve never been listened to. For me, losing Ames was the last straw. I want an Alderman and a School Board that will listen to us.”

Grassroots Illinois Action’s endorsed candidate in the 26th Ward, Juanita Irizarry, was also spurred into action by Ames and the clear need for parents to have a real voice in their childrens’ education. Irizarry, like each of the candidates endorsed by GIA, supports an Elected Representative School Board. GIA helped coordinate efforts to put an advisory referendum on the ballot in 37 wards throughout the city.

Rafael Yañez, candidate for Alderman of the 15th Ward, explained the connection between lack of services and violence in his community. “As a police officer, I know that you can’t build safe neighborhoods simply by adding more police officers. More officers on the streets and less overtime abuse is needed for the police. But we can’t stop there. Safe communities require good schools, good jobs, and funding of vital services. How can we build safe neighborhoods when the Mayor shuts down our mental health clinic? I’m ready to fight for the resources that our community deserves.”

The mistreatmenllt of neighborhoods across the city has led many community leaders to step into politics for the first time, like Zerlina Smith, running for Alderman in the 29th Ward. “I am not running as a politician. I am running as a grassroots activist and organizer. I grew up on the Near West Side of Chicago and lived for a time in a CHA housing project known as The Village. I know what poverty is and what it feels like. I now live in the 29th Ward which has experienced racial segregation, severe poverty and massive disinvestment. We need serious re-investment, but only with democratic community involvement in the process.”

“I am a McKinley Park parent and a union organizer with the UAW, and I chose to run for office because I am sick of seeing our public schools privatized, and upset that the gulf between the very rich and regular folks in our city keeps on growing – making things worse for working people and their families,” stated Pete Demay, candidate for Alderman of the 12th Ward currently fighting in court to be placed back on the ballot.

In the 46th Ward, Grassroots Illinois Action is endorsing both challengers to current Alderman James Cappleman. The two challengers, Amy Crawford and Denice Davis, have strong grassroots support, align closely with GIA values, and would undoubtedly serve the ward better than the current Alderman.

“I was approached by the young people. They asked me to run. You should serve the whole breadth of the community. When you are an elected official you have to represent all of the people, and that is clearly not what is happening now,” stated Davis.

“I’m running because we need a stronger, smarter leader to end the political polarization in the 46th Ward and get things done on the issues that affect all of us. I will bring people together and confront the complex issues we have in our great, diverse neighborhoods — in particular, making our streets safer and encouraging economic development,” said Crawford.

Although the majority of the endorsements were given to Aldermanic challengers, GIA did endorse members of the City Council Progressive Caucus who have consistently stood up to challenge Emanuel’s agenda. Each of the GIA endorsed candidates have committed to joining the Progressive Caucus when elected.

“We need to not only elect Chuy Garcia as Mayor, but also make sure that we elect Aldermen who can work with him and get the job done for Chicago working families. That means protecting the current members of the Progressive Caucus, and expanding it,” said Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Illinois Action.

Grassroots Illinois Action is committed to help mobilize boots on the ground for endorsed candidates, and to continue building long term infrastructure to hold them accountable once they win office.

“I look forward to working on our shared vision for the city of Chicago: a city where you can find a job, support your family, send your child to a world-class neighborhood school and have a say in their education, live in peace and safety, and retire with dignity,” stated Tara Stamps, Candidate for Alderman of the 37th Ward.

List of GIA Endorsed Candidates

Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia – Mayor

Leslie Hairston – 5th Ward (i)

Roderick Sawyer – 6th Ward (i)

LaShonda Curry – 7th Ward

Tara Baldridge – 8th Ward

Sue Garza – 10th Ward

Maureen Sullivan – 11th Ward

Pete DeMay  – 12th Ward

Rafael Ya̱ez Р15th Ward

Toni Foulkes – 16th Ward (i)

David Moore – 17th Ward

Rick Munoz – 22nd Ward (i)

Byron Sigcho – 25th Ward

Juanita Irizarry – 26th Ward

Zerlina Smith – 29th Ward

Scott Waguespack – 32nd Ward (i)

Tim Meegan – 33rd Ward

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa – 35th Ward

Tara Stamps – 37th Ward

Nick Sposato – 38th Ward (i)

Diane Daleiden – 40th Ward

John Arena – 45th Ward (i)

*Amy Crawford – 46th Ward

*Denice Davis – 46th Ward

* Dual endorsement

(i) Incumbent

Grassroots Illinois Action is building a permanent, independent grassroots electoral movement to promote a progressive agenda that values all of our city’s residents, all of our children, all of our neighborhoods. We unite Chicagoans in an effort to build real independent political power in and for our communities. We work to expand the political influence of our members by supporting candidates who embrace our vision of good neighborhood public schools, living wage jobs, affordable housing, and safe streets in every community.