Chicago’s progressive candidates set sights on ‘sea change’ in City Council

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CHICAGO — On Tuesday, Chicago voted out three City Council incumbents. Democratic Socialist candidates are taking powerful incumbents Deb Mell and Pat O’Conner to run-off elections on April 2.

Some experts said it’s the beginning of a generational transformation in Chicago politics.

“On Tuesday, we saw an amazing shift of voters rejecting a go-along-to-get-along model of aldermanic and City Council politics,” said Emma Tai, executive director of United Working Families.

After the April run-off, the Chicago City Council could have as many as five Democratic Socialists, people whose political philosophy seeks a bigger role for the government to ensure fair distribution of public resources.

One of them is Rossana Rodriguez, a 33rd Ward candidate who said Chicago is in line with a national trend started by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and continued by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“We have people who are going to City Council and are serving themselves and are not concerned with people at all, with making sure people have access to resources,” Rodriguez said. “So people are really turned off by that, and I also think the antidote to corruption is democracy.”

She and other progressive politicians attended a briefing on how a new City Council could implement an agenda and amplify policies for the working-class — largely by paying for programs with new taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

“We work for the many and not the few when it comes to taxation,” Michael Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is the alderman-elect in the 22nd Ward, which encompasses Little Village, Archer Heights and North Lawndale.

“I’m proud to be part of a sea change in Chicago politics,” he said.

Jeanette Taylor was the top vote-getter in the 20th Ward on the South Side; she now faces a run-off election.

“I would say I’m an independent Democrat,” she said. “I don’t think machine. I think people. … We have a weak mayor and a strong council. We will use that power as they did against Harold Washington. I ask people all the time: Can you count to 26?”

The run-off election is April 2.

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