March 22, 2023
"COMRADE" LEFTISTS WILL BE DOMINANT FACTOR IN NEW CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL
by RUSS STEWART
It does not yet resemble the Politburo of the Soviet Union of the Communist Party, but there will be a lot of “comrades” among the 50 alderpersons in Chicago’s new city council.
According to my calculations, and depending on the 14 April 4 runoffs, there could be as many as 18 Far Left “tovarisch” alderpersons.
That will make them a dominant force in the council, as they will be two-thirds of a majority (26). “It’s a scary situation,” said Alderman Nick Sposato (38th), part of the body’s dwindling conservative/law-and-order faction, which could number in the 6-10 range.
Ideologically-driven and dedicated to a democratic socialistic agenda, these Leftists and their public sector union allies view themselves as transformers, disdaining the conventional role of ward housekeeping, They view the council and the city’s $16.7 billion budget as a massive social engine for radical societal change in spending, policing, educating. And they’re all-in behind Brandon Johnson for mayor, who touts himself as leader of an emerging “multi-racial, multi-generational” majority.
For the past 40 years, since Harold Washington and the 1980s “council wars,” the chamber has been largely divided along racial lines, with a Black/Latino majority (numbering around 30) fighting to get a bigger share of the economic pie. Their goal was to improve quality-of-life in less-wealthy, less White areas. They were all-in for affirmative action and acquiring more power within the system.
For the 40 years before the council was divided along partisan lines, with the Democratic Machine bosses – Ed Kelly, Jake Arvey, Richard Daley – using City Hall patronage to make aldermen compliant. The council was a “rubber-stamp” for the mayor, although Republicans did climb to 16 in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The goal of an alderman was simple self-preservation: Get enough jobholders to work precincts to get him and the Democratic ticket elected. And vote as you’re told.
The 2019 municipal cycle was historic. Five candidates now part of the Democratic Socialist caucus were elected, and all have been re-elected (Ramirez-Rosa, Rodriguez Sanchez, LaSpata, Sigcho-Lopez, Taylor). The Progressive Reform Caucus, of which they are members, now numbers 18. The Left, if not the Leftmost of the Left, are nearing a majority. The “Socialist 5” did not run amok because of Lori Lightfoot’s bullying and COVID restrictions. That won’t be the case if Johnson wins.
On Feb. 28, in a 35.8 percent turnout, the Leftist Coalition proved to be real. The major player was United Working Families (UWF), the grassroots operational group funded by the teachers’ unions (CTU and AFT), as well as SEIU (janitors and healthcare workers) and Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL). The UWF recruits and trains candidates and runs their campaigns.
Of 18 ward races, a UWFer either won or earned a runoff in 15 wards. Of the unions’ direct endorsees, AFTers won 9 of 11, CTUers won 4 of 7, SEIU-backed candidates won 16 of 16, and CFL endorsees won 18 of 18. The Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (CDSA) backed 6, losing in wards 30 and 48, but winning in 25, 33, 35 and 46.
Of individuals, governor J.B. Pritzker (D) endorsed and donated to 14 incumbents – and all won. “He didn’t endorse me, and he didn’t endorse any pro-police incumbent,” noted Sposato. Mayoral loser Chuy Garcia, endorsed in 5 losing 2. FOP and CFD Local 2 got involved in several races (those of firefighters Sposato, Napolitano and Gardiner) on the Northwest Side, and is now focused on the 10th and 11th wards, where CPDers are running, and the 21st, where a firefighter is running.
One group that fared somewhat well was the pro-business Get Stuff Done Super PAC (GSD), founded by ex-Rahm Emanuel strategist Michael Ruemmler. It raised $1.74 million and targeted 2 wards – the near Southwest Side 25th and the Edgewater/Andersonville 48th. GSD deluged both wards with mailers attacking alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez and Nick Ward, respectively. Ward finished third, but Aida Flores lost 4,201-3,734 to Sigcho-Lopez, who got 52.9 percent.
Other noteworthy “lefty” Feb. 28 wins: In the 1ST WARD incumbent Daniel LaSpata eked out a 50.1 percent win, avoiding a runoff and letting the Leftist Coalition spend elsewhere. Against 3 opponents, LaSpata got 7,339 to Sam Royko’s 3,432, or 23.4 percent. In the 12TH WARD, vacated by George Cardenas to become a Board of Review commissioner, his anointed successor Anabel Abarca, once Garcia’s chief-of-staff (COS), got beat 3,355-2,531 (57-43) by UWFer Julia Ramirez.
In the Black-majority 20TH WARD, CDSA incumbent Jeanette Taylor squeezed-out a 52.1 percent win over 2 opponents. In the open South Side 6TH WARD vacated by Roderick Sawyer, UWF-backed pastor William Hall topped ex-cop Richard Wooten 2,483-2,412 (23.8-23.2) and heads into a runoff. In the North Side 33RD WARD, where Rosanna Rodriguez Sanchez notched a 13-vote runoff win in 2019, this year was easy-peasy. Against 2 opponents, one of whom was Sammie Martinez, Cardenas’s ex-COS and endorsed by Garcia and ward committeeperson (D) and Clerk of Circuit Court Iris Martinez, she won convincingly with 54.7 percent. A lot of voters in Ravenswood Manor have no problem with her Leftmost Leftist agenda.
In the redrawn 36TH WARD, which stretches from Montclare and Belmont-Cragin southeast to West Town, East Villge and Ukrainian Village, UFWer and CPS teacher Lori Torres Whitt came in with just 30.1 percent, but that was enough to hold incumbent Gil Villegas to 46.5 percent and into a runoff. Villegas topped her 4,240-2,749. Of the ward’s 27 precincts, Villegas won a majority in 13 and plurality in 7; Whitt in 4 and 3. But now the unions will pour in the money.
n the open west Logan Square/Humboldt Park 26TH WARD vacated by Roberto Maldonado, UWFer Jessie Fuentes, a staffer at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, cruised to an effortless 55.8 percent win, topping ex-DJ Julian Perez and ward committeeperson (D) Angee Gonzalez Rodriguez 4,990-2,863-1,094. With a paltry 12.2 percent, Rodriguez really bombed.
As did UWF in 4 wards. In the Latino 15TH WARD, Ray Lopez crushed UWFer Vicko Alvarez, Rodriguez Sanchez’s COS, with 64.2 percent. In the open far Southeast Side 10TH WARD the CDSA/UWF’S Oscar Sanchez fizzled, getting just 1,503 votes (18.4 percent) to cop Peter Chico’s 40.5 and labor organizer Ana Guajardo’s 26.5. If she picks up the Sanchez vote she wins. In the open Black South Lakefront 4TH WARD, where Toni Preckwinkle was once alderman, UWFer Khari Humphries got 9.4 percent, finishing third.
And in the open North Side Latino 30TH WARD vacated by Ariel Reboyras, CDSA/UWF’s Warren Williams got 24 percent, only slightly behind Reboyras-backed Ruth Cruz’s 27 and ex-teacher and 2019 loser Jessica Gutierrez’s 37.8. Expect most Williams votes to go to Gutierrez.
Three open north Lakefront races demand attention, in the 43rd, 46th and 48th wards: Voters just “got numb,” explained 46th Ward committeeperson (D) Sean Tenner, meaning that during the final weeks of February voting households received up to 5 mailers per day, each filled with information, misinformation and/or disinformation. Voters just tuned it out and went with their initial impressions, supporting whomever they knew best or first.
In the 43RD WARD (Lincoln Park), Lightfoot-appointed incumbent Timmy Knudsen failed to fulfill expectations. In a turnout of 14,750, business executive and Sheffield Neighborhood Association president Brian Comer surged late. He got 3,543 votes, or 24.1 percent, to Knudsen’s 3,950, with lawyer and former Preckwinkle aide Rebecca Janowitz fading to third, getting 2,917 votes, or 19.8 percent. As the best-funded woman in the race against 4 men, she was thought to be a lock for the runoff.
Outlook: Janowitz endorsed Knudsen, but the 43rd Ward and the Lakefront south of Fullerton has resisted Woke/Leftism. 43rd Warders want an alderman who is substantive, not trendy. Comer will win 55-45.
In the 46TH WARD (Uptown, Buena Park, north Lakeview) there is only Center-Left and Leftmost-Left. “Progressives” are moderates and “liberals” conservatives. Patrick Nagle, a social security administrative judge, had the temerity to oppose “defunding” CPD and got 11.3 percent in a field of 6.
The runoff front runner is Angela Clay. Second was Kim Walz, and third Marianne Lalonde. Outlook: Clay wins comfortably.
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