Edit Module

Meet Your New Aldermen

An EMT, a former rapper, and a pack of grassroots organizers are just some of the folks looking to shake up the City Council.

Change is coming to Chicago politics — and it doesn’t involve anyone going to jail (yet)! The City Council has a lot of fresh blood: Of the 50 seats, 12 are occupied by new aldermen, five of whom identify as socialists. Let’s meet our roster:

The Dethroners

Andre Vasquez
Andre Vasquez Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

Andre Vasquez (40th Ward) beat incumbent Pat O’Connor, a 36-year council veteran who was characterized by his opponent as a “machine politician.” Vasquez — erstwhile member of the hip-hop collective Molemen, recent AT&T store manager — is a socialist who supports the formation of a civilian-run police oversight board.

• Rogers Parkers apparently felt Joe Moore (49th Ward) lost his progressive cred after 28 years. Replacing him is nonprofit director Maria Hadden, who is the first queer woman of color to serve on the City Council. Top of her agenda: investing more resources (read: money, baby!) into neighborhood public schools. Which all sounds good, but can she bring Heartland Cafe back to life?

The Proof Your Vote Matters

Rossana Rodriguez
Rossana Rodriguez Photo: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune

• In the 33rd Ward, Rossana Rodriguez beat incumbent Deb Mell by 13 votes. That’s right: one-three. The alderman-elect is a democratic socialist who supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage and affordable housing expansion. Whether or not her politics are your jam, remember Rodriguez if you’re feeling too lazy to vote in the next election.

The Community Activists

Jeanette Taylor
Jeanette Taylor Photo: Courtesy of campaign

• Grassroots candidates make up a big ol’ chunk of this class. [Takes a giant breath.] Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward) led a 34-day hunger strike that kept City Hall from shuttering Walter H. Dyett High School. (Kind of. The name stayed, but it’s now a school for the arts.) Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward) and Daniel La Spata (1st Ward) have fought for fair housing. And civil rights attorney Matt Martin (47th Ward) cofounded the Heart of Lincoln Square Neighbors Association. All but Martin are members of the Democratic Socialists of America. Any poli-sci major knows a socialist is defined as one who spews “Um, actually, I’m a socialist” within 20 seconds of every conversation. All four are expected to join the Progressive Reform Caucus, which could grow from 10 members to as many as 17. The influx of leftier leftists could create a rift with establishment Dems (like we’re seeing nationally — ahem, Bernie Bros). There’s a good chance that they’ll have to table their pricier ideas to first address the not-so-sexy $28 billion heap of pension debt that approximately zero Chicagoans know how to fix.

The Neighborhood Lifers

Michael Rodriguez
Michael Rodriguez Photo: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune

Michael Rodriguez (22nd Ward) and Stephanie Coleman (16th Ward) are natives of and now serve Little Village and Englewood, respectively. Coleman wants to “shift the narrative” around violence in Englewood, while Rodriguez wants to strengthen protections for undocumented Chicagoans. Congrats to both on achieving every kid’s dream of wielding immense power over neighborhood zoning codes!

The Law-and-Order Squad

Jim Gardiner
Jim Gardiner Photo: Claudio Mendrano

• On the conservative-leaning Northwest Side, voters said “See ya!” to progressive John Arena (45th Ward). In his stead is EMT Jim Gardiner, who says there’s a shortage of police officers in the area — ironic, considering his cop-heavy constituency. Samantha Nugent shares that concern in the 39th Ward. (She used to be chief of staff at the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.) The same goes for the 31st Ward’s Felix Cardona Jr., who believes our current climate makes police feel “handcuffed.” Don’t worry, no influx of cops could ever stop Northwest Siders from calling dibs all winter.

Top photos: (Gardiner) Claudio Mendrano; (Sigcho-Lopez) Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune; (Rossana Rodriguez, Michael Rodriguez, Hadden) Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune; (La Spata) Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune; (Vasquez) Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune; (Cardona) Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times; (others) courtesy of campaigns

Share

Edit Module
Edit Module
Submit your comment

Comments are moderated. We review them in an effort to remove foul language, commercial messages, abuse, and irrelevancies.