By Eric Johnson
Alderman David Moore (17th Ward) last weekend joined the race to replace Secretary of State Jesse White, setting up a critical battle for the Black vote against Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd Ward).
The announcement came one day before the city’s Ethics Board said Moore can face potential fines for using his 17th Ward Facebook site for promoting his campaign for Secretary of State. For Alderman Moore, who’s still learning about politics in his second term as alderman, the warning is being viewed as simply a warning. Ald. Moore has kept a clean profile since he was elected in 2015.
Many officials at City Hall remain unhappy with Moore as he leads a campaign to rename Lake Shore Drive after Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable, the founder of Chicago.
Moore made the announcement at his alma mater, Western Illinois University in Macomb, about 246 miles southwest of Chicago.
Moore is campaigning as the candidate best to succeed White, who decided not to run for reelection after serving five terms in office. His announcement in Macomb perhaps is his effort to appeal to downstate, non-Black voters in a race that’s filled with candidates from Chicago.
“This campus is where I learned to love Illinois. I met so many people from different parts of the state, different ethnicities, different religions and different political parties,” Moore said. “I still have many of the friendships and relationships that I developed while at Western.”
Moore is serving his second term as alderman of the 17th Ward. Born in Chicago, Moore was raised in the Robert Taylor Homes before moving to the Englewood and Auburn-Gresham communities. Upon completing Simeon Vocational High School, he graduated WIU with a dual major in accounting and operations management. He earned an MA with emphasis in government studies at Loyola University-Chicago.
Experienced in governmental affairs and finance, Moore established a successful accounting career in the private sector at several Fortune 500 companies, as well as with Chicago’s Department of Aviation, Chicago Housing Authority, and he also served as an assistant to the commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review, coordinating Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
During his announcement to run for Secretary of State, Moore said, “If elected, I will build on transparency, equity in hiring and equity in contracting. I will lead with an unbiased level of integrity and character.”
“All across the state, I work hard for those who feel that they’ve been marginalized, or do not have a big family name, or do not have a high income.” Moore touted his business experience, telling supporters that he would create opportunities for youth across the state. “Obtaining a driver’s license and registering to vote are their first civic responsibilities,” he said. “I will expand on that by utilizing their technological skills to create virtual reality applications that can expand the use of our libraries.”
Moore also said that he would expand the organ donor program and lower user fees, where possible. “We have an opportunity to use technology to lower costs by fully implementing digital license plates and at the same time providing discounts to our seniors.”
“Listening to people across the state, I’ve heard three common themes that I currently practice as a non-partisan City Councilman representing 50-thousand-plus diverse people in Chi- cago’s 17th Ward; the people agree that the Secretary of State’s seat is a servant’s seat. They want someone who will focus on serving instead of being political. They see it as a voice that gives power to our youth and young adults, and they want the office to run effectively without hurting their pockets,” said Moore.
Moore joins a crowded Democratic race that includes Ald. Dowell, Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, State Senator Michael Hastings from Frankfort, and Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia.
Moore’s biggest threat may be Dowell, who is serving her fourth term on the City Council. Both were easily reelected in 2019. However, both share the same Black voter base in Chicago and will need it to win the Democratic Primary.
Moore recently made headlines as the sponsor of a proposed ordinance to rename Lake Shore Drive after Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable. The proposal may give Moore the edge in taking the Black vote, but it also may hurt his chances of winning white voters, many of whom are opposed to his proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive.
The big question is whether Alderman Moore or Alderman Dowell will get the coveted endorsement of White, a household name in the Black community and Illinois whom voters elected and reelected four times after keeping politics out of the Secretary of State’s Office. Unlike some of his predecessors, White didn’t use the position as a stepping-stone to a position in higher office.
White has yet to announce which candidate he will endorse. During her last announcement to run last month, Dowell said she will seek White’s endorsement “shortly,” as Black women continue to rise to top political positions in Illinois and across the country. In March, Congresswoman Robin Kelly won a tight race to replace Mike Madigan as chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois.
There’s also the possibility that Ald. Moore and Ald. Dowell could split the Black vote and give Giannoulias the victory. Before both aldermen entered the race, Giannoulias was viewed as the front runner who was gaining momentum after raising millions of dollars in campaign contributions. In 2010, he nearly beat Republican Mark Kirk in the U.S. Senate race.
As of May 11, Giannoulias had over $2 million in his campaign war chest. Many donations from private citizens have been rolling in since last March, campaign records show.
Dowell, who last month had a deficit of $9,000 in political contributions, now has nearly $182,000. Moore has over $75,000 in his campaign war chest.