For the last four years, Chicago’s Black community has been deceived, betrayed, humiliated and ignored under the city’s leadership. As glistening skyscrapers sprang up downtown and on the North Side, the South and West Sides languished in poverty. After decades of struggles, fed up, nearly 200,000 Blacks have moved out of Chicago these past years, leaving Hispanics as the city’s largest minority.
But when the mayor, his allies and cherry-picked leaders tried to close Dyett High School, activists fought back and won. After years of protests surrounding the lack of emergency services, the University of Chicago finally opened an adult Trauma Center on its Hyde Park campus.
That came about after millions in Chicago and around the nation watched Officer Jason Van Dyke shoot 17-year old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. That video would have never been released had it not been for several persistent activists who spoke truth to power.
The fight is not over, but Blacks remain resilient in the never-ending struggle to advance the agenda of a people who for so long have been ignored and disrespected by the city’s leadership, which sadly, has included elected officials of color. Enough is enough.
Activism is what Chicago’s Black community has been about these past four years.
But among our Black aldermen, it’s been sorely lacking.
While many of our aldermen collected six figure salaries, gun violence continues to steal the lives of innocent Black residents, and the Obama Presidential Library moves forward without a community benefits agreement to address concerns of rising rents and gentrification in Woodlawn and South Shore.
When Target closed two of its stores on the South Side, many Black aldermen stayed away from community town hall meetings and protests. As the Crusader reported last year, many took thousands of dollars from the mayor and stayed silent as they approved a $5 million settlement agreement to the Laquan McDonald family.
Many have stayed quiet on the issues, but on February 26, the voters will speak.
In these final days of the election season the Crusader encourage voters young and old, Black and White to remember, reflect and vote to finally change a system that has benefitted the one percent under Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Remember the pain of the silence of our leadership, then reflect on the neglect, apathy and pathetic leadership of those who have been entrusted to protect our neighborhoods, schools and residents.
Election after election they have become career politicians who have grown out of touch with their wards and residents. While their resumes grow with experience, their effectiveness has faded, and leadership has grown old.
It’s time for them to go.
In this special election issue of the Crusader, readers and voters will find that many of the candidates we’ve endorsed are young activists who have fought on front lines years before they filed petitions to run. Some are running for a second time after losing to the incumbent in a runoff. They are back again for another round in a political climate that’s ripe for change.
Their passion, and concern for the community will help address longstanding problems in impoverished neighborhoods while restoring trust and effectiveness in our City Council.
Remember this. Reflect on it. Then vote.
Dowell is seeking her fourth term as alderman of the third ward, which includes Bronzeville, parts of Hyde Park and Fuller Park. Under her leadership Bronzeville has continued to experience a resurgence, with the opening of Mariano’s and the renovation of the historic Rosenwald Apartments. The opening of the massive XS tennis facility at 53rd and State street has brought hope to talented youth seeking to compete in a sport that is normally accessible to a more affluent class. The Lake Meadows shopping plaza has also flourished with the opening of Chicago’s first Culver’s restaurant, which is Black-owned. Dowell’s record is strong enough for endorsement, in light of her accepting political donations from Mayor Rahm Emanuel weeks before she approved a $5 million settlement to the Laquan McDonald family.
King is seeking re-election after finishing a first term that started in 2017 following the abrupt departure of her predecessor, Alderman Will Burns. King has settled into her ward nicely with a refreshing focus on getting the historic Johnson Publishing Company building designated as a Chicago landmark. She also co-sponsored an ordinance that led to the renaming of Congress Parkway to Ida B. Wells Drive, after the forgotten Black journalist and suffragist. She did this while balancing the needs and interests of one of the most diverse wards that includes the increasingly wealthy and growing South Loop neighborhood, and Michigan Avenue in the Loop.
Calloway will be a much-needed watchdog for South Shore. Incumbent Leslie Hairston has served the ward for 20 years and has little to show for it. The Jeffrey Plaza and the 71st Street corridor remain an eyesore to the community. The vacant Dominick’s store finally got a new tenant last week, but it’s too late to save Hairston’s job. She was largely silent as the Chicago Park District without a public hearing or community input, decided to merge the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses to create a $30 million golf course designed by Tiger Woods. Hairston has done little to nothing to address residents’ concerns. She was absent at a City Council meeting that approved the plans for the $500 million Obama Presidential Library and Center without a Community Benefits Agreement. An underpass at Lake Shore Drive and Marquette Drive remained flooded for four years until a Crusader story forced the Chicago Department of Transportation to repair it. From his activism, the Crusader believes Calloway is the best candidate to steer South Shore in the right direction.
It’s time for new leadership in the sixth ward. Foster-Bonner is the right person to help revive Chatham and West Englewood. Residents have grown weary of lingering crime in their neighborhood, but the closing of the Target store has added to their growing list of concerns. Incumbent Roderick Sawyer initially picked up where his prominent father left off, but Sawyer in the last several years has grown out of touch with his constituents. He was a no-show at community town hall meetings and protests after Target announced that it was closing a store in his ward. His opponent, Foster-Bonner is a self-employed accountant who is energetic and approachable. She started a block club to promote community watchdogs. She is also raising funds to support after-school programs.
While we do not agree and have not agreed with Michelle Harris’ political moves, we are mindful of the many projects she has going in the 8th ward, some still to be completed. Many of them are noteworthy and should be applauded such as the just recently opened $5 million dollar Trinity United Church of Christ’s Imani Village and the new Advocate Healthcare Outpatient Center; the $10M new South Shore High School and $12M Rosenblum Park; $95M Social Security Administration Building to name just a few. But the long awaited Gately Track and Field facility will soon be a reality in the making for more than 30 years. There were protests about the $79M Montclare Senior Residences of Calumet Heights and Avalon Park, but we find it hard to oppose suitable housing for our seniors. So we are willing to work with Michelle to provide more services and projects in the 8th ward.
Why Bill Daley? The mayoral race of February 26, 2019 is historic. Never before has Chicago seen 14 candidates in a mayoral race. This race is like Heinz 57 varieties; there is something for everybody, given ethnicity, age, race and gender. Some are novice, some are experienced and some even hold public office while running for another. Whether we say it or not, not all of the candidates are qualified. Bill is. Bill Daley is the right candidate at this time to be Mayor of the City of Chicago. Being mayor of an American city is not an on-the-job training position. Vision is critical and so is experience and execution. His professional blend of government knowledge and business experience puts him at the right place at the right time and ahead of the crowd. Congressman Bobby Rush said at his endorsement press conference “Chicago needs Bill Daley more than Bill Daley needs a job in Chicago.” This statement rings ever so true. Chicago, the beautiful city by the lake is broken and torn. We are at the crossroads of moving forward as a world-class city or becoming stagnated. An $850 billion dollar airport is on the horizon, The Obama Library Center is slated for the South Side, postured as an economic engine as some in the community doubt it, with all of the street changes it might bring. Lincoln Yards on the north side is highly questionable as it considers undeserved TIF funds. And the pension funds for city workers, like policemen, firemen and teachers are threatened with a lack of funding. These are among the problems facing the city squarely, no matter the mayor. Bill has the know-how on how to solve and resolve these issues. The mayoral challenge to Bill is to unite the city, to have targeted financing and programs for the underdeveloped south and west sides of the city. Inclusion is key, economic equity and parity is a must for all minority communities, the city must blend as one and not just with downtown skyscrapers and community outposts with grocery taxes. We like the fact that Daley is a full blooded Chicagoan born and raised and reared on the South Side in a bungalow. He knows Chicago communities. His financial experience will serve him well as he looks to build Chicago communities. Many have talked about the Daley years of Bill’s father and brother. But if we look at that era, the crime in the streets was not as high, Black businesses prospered, new schools opened, communities developed, and a Black middle class bloomed. We must move forward and be steadfast as we go. Bill Daley is ready to assume the Mayor mantel and we need to give him our vote to move forward as the 45th mayor of the City of Chicago.
Beale is seeking his sixth term in office. Despite some fumbles, Beale is a solid alderman in his ward. He was one of the few aldermen who criticized the city’s $38.75 million red light settlement, saying the settlement claims failed to allow drivers to challenge tickets they received from traffic violations. Beale serves as the chairman of the council’s Transportation Committee. Red light tickets have placed many drivers in the Black community in a deep financial hole that leads to suspended licenses and personal bankruptcies. While the Crusader remains disappointed with his alliance with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, we are pleased with the opening of the U.S. Bank Pullman Community Center and the Whole Foods Midwest Distribution Center. Beale is pushing for a $450 million renovation of the Altgeld Gardens public housing projects and wants the long-awaited CTA Red Line extension project to come to 135th Street.
Moore is seeking his second term as alderman of a ward that includes Chicago Lawn, Marquette Park, Gresham, Auburn Gresham and West Englewood. He was the only alderman who voted in opposition of the Obama Presidential Center and Library. He is a refreshing, independent voice at City Hall and the Crusader wants him to stay that way. Moore opposes charter schools and is among the few Black aldermen critical of the city’s lack of concern towards the crumbling infrastructure in their wards. At City Hall, Moore also voted in favor of ordinances that supported Democratically Elected Police Control Boards, gang database regulation and an ordinance that would prohibit the Chicago Police Department from destroying documents. He also voted in favor of ordinances calling for hearings on police surveillance devices and police accountability.
It’s time for Onyezia to shine at City Hall. He ran for 18th ward alderman twice, in 2011 and 2015, and lost both times. One of his biggest opponents, Lona Lane, who pushed incumbent Derrick Curtis to a runoff in 2015, is not running this time. With only two people in this year’s race, Onyezia may have a greater chance of defeating Curtis, who was in the news in 2017 for not paying his $1,500 property tax bill. The 18th Ward includes Ashburn and parts of Marquette Park and Auburn Gresham. Curtis has been criticized for not doing much for his ward, which includes all of Ashburn and parts of Marquette Park and Auburn Gresham. Onyezia has an MBA and is an attorney who has practiced for 10 years. Onyezia promises to promote transparency and end corruption in government. As an aldermanic candidate, Onyezia vows to ensure that the 18th Ward receives the necessary funding to improve the community.
Everyone knows Jennifer and they should. For nearly a decade, she has been fighting, advocating and nurturing the lives of youth and residents in Woodlawn and Englewood. She now has set her sights on helping residents in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. A Chicago police officer, Maddox in 2011 founded Future Ties, an afterschool program for teenagers and youth, many of whom live in single-family households headed by women at Parkway Gardens Homes. Located at 64th and Martin Luther King Drive, the massive 2,400-unit complex has been beset with violence and gangs in recent years. Maddox’s Future Ties programs have kept youth on the straight and narrow, sending some to college. She also has volunteered in other areas of the community, including Dulles Elementary School. CNN honored her as nominee of its annual Hero of the Year Award. The Crusader honored her last year at its 25th Annual Heroes in the Hood program. With the ward’s last two aldermen accused of federal corruption charges and with urban renewal setting in Woodlawn, Maddox will prove to be a stabilizing presence in the ward. She has earned the trust as a genuine public servant who can balance the needs of a community on the rise with the interests of longtime residents who are concerned, as development projects are underway, with rising property values and the pending construction of the Obama Presidential Center and Library.
Marvin is a retired Zoning Code Enforcer for the City of Chicago. A retired zoning code officer, McNeil served as block club president in his neighborhood. He was an active member of Park Manor Neighbors, Chatham-Avalon Business Association, and the 82nd and Prairie Block Club. McNeil served as Democratic Committeeman over the 6th Ward in the Chatham area. In the 21st Ward, he noticed the unequal distribution of services within the ward and how they contribute to the decline in property values. Concerned about the steady rise in crime, he grew alarmed in 2013 when the Board of Education voted to close 50 schools. Six years later, McNeil is running for alderman in a ward that includes Auburn Gresham, Washington Heights, Gresham, Chatham and Roseland. His opponent, Howard Brookins Jr., took $10,000 from Mayor Rahm Emanuel weeks before he voted not once, but twice to approve a $5 million settlement to the estate of Laquan McDonald. He took an additional $20,000 even after the Crusader reported his initial donation in its investigation. Unbought and un-bossed, it’s time for McNeil to help sweep out City Hall.
Scott is seeking re-election to a second term after an impressive freshman year at City Hall. His ward includes North Lawndale, South Austin and West Garfield Park. In his first year in office, Scott served on several City Council committees, including the Budget and Government Operations; Rules and Ethics; Economic, Capital and Technology Development; Education and Child Development; Housing and Real Estate; License and Consumer Protection; and Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation. As corruption and shady politics rocked city hall in recent years, Scott is one of the few aldermen who has kept a squeaky-clean profile. He was among a minority of aldermen who voted in favor of a proposed ordinance that would have authorized the City Inspector General to investigate the City Council and its committees, include disgraced alderman Ed Burke’s 100-million-a year disability fiefdom. Scott fought for road repairs to attract jobs in his ward. He advocated improvements for local parks to reduce crime and negative behavior. Scott is on the right track. City Hall needs more aldermen like him.
Incumbent Walter Burnett is seeking a 7th term as alderman of the 27th ward, which includes parts of East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, the Near West Side, the Illinois Medical District, Greek Town, United Center Park and the Near North Side. He faces political newcomer Cynthia D. Bedaarz. The Crusader is not impressed with him, which leaves this race open for voters to decide.
Ervin is seeking his third term as alderman of the 28th ward, which covers parts of West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, Austin, Douglas Park, the Illinois Medical District and University Village/Little Italy Ervin was one of several aldermen who supported a referendum asking Chicago voters to increase the City of Chicago real estate transfer tax to boost resources for housing and services to combat homelessness. Ervin in 2015 voted in support of a resolution that called on the Illinois State Board of Education and Chicago Board of Education to jointly impose a moratorium on charter school expansion for the 2015-2016 school year. With crime a lingering problem in his ward, Ervin proposed an ordinance that passed last year to crack down on prostitution in his ward. Ervin believes the ordinance will help make the ward safe. The Crusader agrees.
Taliaferro has earned high marks in his freshman year as alderman of the 29th ward, which includes parts of Austin, Montclare and Belmont Cragin and is bordered by Oak Park and Elmwood Park. He seeks a second term after pushing for more affordable housing in his ward. Taliaferro was among a minority group of aldermen who voted in favor of a failed proposed ordinance that would have authorized the City Inspector General to investigate the City Council and its committees. Taliaferro has an excellent record of voting in favor of ordinances and resolutions that support police reforms, housing initiatives and jobs and workers’ rights. One of Taliaferro’s opponents criticized him for allowing a liquor store to reopen across Columbus, but Taliaferro has taken ownership of the mistake and has gained wisdom from this experience.
An attorney and activist, Brown aims to unseat incumbent Carrie Austin, who is seeking a seventh term. Her ward includes West Pullman, Washington Heights, Morgan Park and Roseland. Brown and Austin are the only two candidates in the race, but the best choice is clearly Preston, who has taken an active and genuine interest in the people in his ward. He aims to bring new business and jobs to residents in the ward. He believes in eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the City Council. Most important, Brown is an independent voice who remains unbought and un-bossed. Austin remains a fierce ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whom she voted 100 percent of the time in support of his proposals. Weeks before she twice approved a $5 million settlement to the estate of Laquan McDonald, Austin took over $30,000 in campaign donations from Emanuel. She took an additional $20,000 from the mayor weeks after a Crusader investigation. Austin was also among 25 aldermen who opposed a proposed ethics reform ordinance that would have given the city’s inspector general oversight of the council and its committees. In response to Alderman Danny Solis’ wearing a wiretap to help federal prosecutors investigate disgraced Alderman Ed Burke, Austin told the Sun Times, “You don’t do that. You just don’t.”
Stamps returns for a rematch against incumbent Emma Mitts, whom she pushed to a closely-watched runoff race in 2015. Mitts narrowly won that race, winning 53 percent of the vote to Stamps’ 47. Mitts is seeking a fifth term in office. In the past several years, she voted 97 percent of the time in support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She took $10,000 from the mayor weeks before she voted to approve a $5 million settlement to the estate of Laquan McDonald. Weeks after the Crusader reported this in its investigation, Mitts took an additional $20,000 campaign donation from the mayor. An activist, Stamps will be a refreshing new voice on the City Council. Stamps sees a shortage of mental clinics in the ward and is pleased but satisfied with the recently approved police consent decree. She says the agreement falls short in addressing training officers to handle cases involving the mentally ill. It’s refreshing to see a strong voice that’s not complacent about the status quo on important issues affecting the Black community.
The Crusader endorses Conyears-Ervin. She is currently an Illinois state representative, serving the 10th District since 2017. She has a master’s degree in business administration from Roosevelt University and has garnered some key endorsements, from the likes of SEIU Local 73, the Chicago Teachers Union, and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. Conyears-Ervin seeks to replace incumbent Kurt Summers, who unexpectedly announced in 2018 that he would not seek re-election. Summers was Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s ex-chief of staff and served just one term.