CHICAGO — Come May, there might be a new caucus in City Hall: the Socialist Caucus.
Democratic Socialists had big wins Tuesday night, with Andre Vasquez ousting powerful longtime Ald. Pat O’Connor in the 40th Ward, community activist Jeanette Taylor emerging victorious in the 20th Ward, Byron Sigcho Lopez winning the 25th Ward contest and activist and educator Rossana Rodriguez slightly ahead of Ald. Deb Mell in the still-too-close-to-call 33rd Ward contest.
These proud members of the Chicago Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America will join Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th) and newly-elected Daniel La Spata, who defeated longtime Ald. Joe Moreno in the 1st Ward outright in February.
“These wins wouldn’t be possible without the organizers and volunteers from many different orgs across the city,” the Chicago DSA said in a statement on Twitter late Tuesday. “We’re ready to get to work and fight against corporate greed, gentrification and austerity politics that have hurt Chicago’s working class, while benefiting a wealthy few.”
During a victory party Tuesday night, Vasquez said the grassroots coalition he was able to build in the Northwest Side ward was better than any money O’Connor threw into the race.
“We were never going to have more money and than Ald. O’Connor,” he said. “And his supporters dropped an insane amount of money, more than any other race I think. But we knew that if we kept on knocking on doors, building relationships and organizing we would be successful at the end and be able to move forward.”
O’Connor, who barely campaigned early on, seemed surprised by the support his opponent was getting as election season went on.
“Who ever thought you’d be able to say, ‘I’m a Democratic Socialist,’ and people would say, ‘That’s a good thing,” O’Connor told the Sun-Times back in August.
In Pilsen Tuesday night, alderman-elect Byron Sigcho Lopez was greeted by a big and thrilled crowd, who said this win signified big changes coming to the ward, a diverse collective of neighborhoods that include Pilsen, Chinatown and the West Loop.
Rosa Esquivel, Pilsen Alliance board president, called Sigcho Lopez’s win “unbelievable” and “wonderful.”
“Each one of us have put our hearts in the campaign. We really believe in something. We are tired, tired of all the corruption of Danny Solis, tired of the displacement and the dehumanization of people,” Esquivel said.
In the 33rd Ward, where the race was still too close to call, supporters of Ald. Mell were wary of opponent Rodriguez’s Socialist identity.
At Leader Bar in Irving Park, where Mell held her election night party, Mell supporters shouted “No-ssana!” and “No socialism!” as the results rolled in on TV.
While Mell said she wanted to work with Rodriguez’s supporters if she ekes out a win, Mell said was disappointed by how she was portrayed throughout the campaign, and stood by what she said was her progressive record.
“I think it’s an easy play and just a label to put on me when really we’ve run this ward in a very community-driven way. Everyone in my office has a say,” Mell said.
While the totals aren’t certified yet, Rodriguez remained in the lead Wednesday morning. She thanked her supporters in a tweet Tuesday night.
“This campaign was built by women. This campaign was built by LGBT people. This campaign was built by immigrants. This campaign was built by working people. Tonight, we are in the lead,” she said. “Thank you to everyone who has been a part of creating this moment.”
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