No-holds-barred: Women against the Machine


Rousemary Vega explained what prompted the event's creation as Amara Enyia waits to lead the event as moderator

With everything from a smoldering to a fire and brimstone kind of rage in the core of their beings, 16 women running for Chicago Aldermanic seats participated in Women Against the Machine at Jane Addams Hull House, 800 S. Halsted, Sat., Jan. 10. They are not only unhappy that there is such a low percentage of women council members [16 out of 50] but they are infuriated that the aldermanic majority march in lockstep mindlessly rubber stamping vote after vote. 


Ronda Locke, 1st Ward Candidate


Anne Shaw, running in the 1st Ward

Some of the reasons behind their ire include: mindless rubber stamp aldermen, unfortunately including some alderwomen; a non-elected Chicago Public School (CPS) board; reduced numbers of neighborhood public schools; economic development not directed to Chicago neighborhoods; and the unfair, non-transparent Tax Increment Financing (TIF) system. They want to be a part of building a truly new Chicago: a city run for the benefit of all its residents and all its neighborhoods. 


Stacey Pfingsten, 2nd Ward Candidate


Tara Baldridge, 8th Ward

"It is important that we have all the alderman in City Council be able to read," said C.M Winters, a college librarian who applied for alderman in the 21st Ward where Howard B. Brookins, Jr. is the alderman. "A lot of them vote on ordinances they have not read. This is why  we have rubber stamps, because they don't read! Reading is fundamental!" 


Olga Bautista, 10th Ward Candidate


Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th Ward

Having fled with her family from Nigeria because of political unrest, with her 6 educational degrees, experience working "in the belly of the beast for Mayor Daley" and former Mayoral Candidate, was the perfect choice as moderator of the event.   


Maureen Sullivan, 11th Ward

Enyia had the candidates introduce themselves and why they are running; what challenges they are encountering; their experience with education in Chicago; their views on economic challenges in Chicago; and how to encourage civic engagement. 


Guadalupe River, 16th Ward

With two 1st Ward candidatespresent, Anne Shaw went first in the introductions, including why she got in the race. "My Alderman [Proco "Joe" Moreno] voted to close two police stations in the Ward as well as a mental health facilities. "To show how much he cares about the people in our Ward, he held a public Christmas party in the closed mental health facility. At another meeting, he also said that it was one of his proudest moments when he closed down the police station. 


CM Winters, 21st Ward


Juanita Irizarry, 26th Ward

"To show how much he cares about women and children, he was in the forefront to bash the CTU (Chicago Teachers Union) for their strike on national as well as local FOX News. In addition he takes so much money from pawn shop owners and developers and gives late-night liquor licenses. These are things that do not help our community." 


Tammie Vinson, 29th Ward


Zerlina Smith, 28th Ward

After giving a brief introduction, Ronda Locke, another 1st Ward Candidate, explained that after working in the Ward office for two years, she stepped down because Moreno would not put an elected school board issue on the ballot. Picking up on Shaw's comments, she said, "He received about $700,000 in contributions in the last four years and has given $140,000 some to schools, parks and things but had no answer at a recent debate when I asked what happened to the other $560,000." 


Irma Cornier, 31st Ward


Tara Stamps, 37th Ward

Explaining that the newly created 2nd Ward map was designed to put out Alderman Bob Fioretti, now a Mayoral candidate, Stacey Pfingsten [one of six 2nd Ward Candidates] said, "Even though the political machine created that Ward, they should not be allowed to run it." Having worked in Fioretti's office for the last two years, she wants to make sure that that aldermanic seat stays in the Progressive Caucus column.  She wants to work on policies that affect all the issues facing the City. An example is to bring back the Department of Environment, which is actually revenue generating. 


Denice Davis, 46th Ward


Dianne Daleiden, 40th

Juanita Irizarry, running against incumbent Roberto Maldonado in the 26th Ward, explained the political history of the Humboldt Park Ward that she has lived in her whole life. "I grew up in an era of fighting as independent Democrats against the Hispanic Democratic organization and the corruption of that group over the years. I was taught that you have to work against the machine and against people in your own community who would rather sell out our community." 

With an expertise in community development and affordable housing, Irizarry said, "It is not every day that a girl from Humboldt Park gets to go to Harvard and I believe that I need to bring back to my community all of that expertise I was so fortunate to gain." She has a graduate degree from Harvard Kennedy School of Government. 

With no Latinas in the Council, Irma Cornier, like Irizarry is looking to change that. She is running against Vice Mayor Ray Suarez in the 31st and she just found out that the objection to her candidacy has been overturned. "I went to Clemente High School, my mother was a maid. We had to struggle and didn't have everything others had. I had to fight for my education. I am the only person in my family with a degree. I wanted to do that so I could show other kids that if I did it they could do it. 


Bob Fioretti emphasized the need for more progressive, non- rubber stamp aldermen

"Our Ward has 30 gangs and is drug infested. We have kids that are so organized that if we had programs for them we could train them to work for positive things. My pastor wanted to put in a homeless shelter. Suarez said, 'No.' We need economic development. We are going to do it!" 

The stories from all the women were filled with facts about existing aldermen and what they will do in office. There were re-occurring themes  about issues and inadequacies around education, not being in touch with their constituencies and being a rubber stamp for the Mayor. The complete list of participants is: Anne Shaw and Ronda Locke, 1st Ward; Stacey Pfingsten, 2nd Ward; Tara Baldridge, 8th Ward; Sue Sadlowski Garza and Olga Bautista, 10th Ward; Maureen Sullivan, 11th Ward; Guadalupe Rivera, 16th Ward; CM Winters, 21st Ward, Juanita Irizarry, 26th Ward; Zerlina Smith, 28th Ward; Tammie Vinson, 29th Ward; Irma Cornier 31st Ward; Tara Stamps, 37th Ward; Dianne Daleiden, 40th Ward; and Denice Davis, 46th Ward.  

Enyia and 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti, who is a Mayorial Candidate, pointed out that it is important to support these women candidates with time and money because, "they will make a difference." Fioretti said that he is anxious to have them on "my City Council." 

How did this event happen? Rousemary Vega thought about all the women running for aldermanic seats that were also tied to education issues and decided it would be great to have an event where they could speak. Her team of 6 women pulled it off in about a month: Carolyn Brown, Karen Fraid, Shannon Carter, Mary Huges, Carolina Gaete and Cassandre Creswell. 

Vega came onto the community scene full force when CPS school closures took the spotlight in 2013. Her heart and soul was in Chicago Public Schools' LaFayette Elementary, which was one of the 50 closed schools, Since then, she has taken on several other issues. 

During several of these battles, Vega was working with 1st Ward Alderman Moreno. Thus, this reporter asked about that affiliation. "I am disappointed and upset, because if you are going to talk the talk you have to walk the walk. You can not say you are for the people and vote with the Mayor over 90% of the time," said Vega.


The Team: Cassie Creswell, Mary Hughes, Shannon Carter, Karen Fraid, Rousemary Vega and Carolyn Brown



The Facts

All 1st Ward Schools have improved under Alderman Moreno's term. TIF Dollars were used to improve Chase and De Diegoplaygrounds. Menu dollars used to renovate LaSalle II and Goethe Robero Clemente is no longer on probation after 14 years. Joe, ensured the Elected School Board referenfum question will be on the ballot. Index crime is down on significantly in the ward. Joe co sponsored a resolution moratorium to halt charter school construction and use TIF dollars for schools. Renovated 4 neighborhood parks. Uses campaign donations for parks, schools, seniors, graffiti removal, scholarships, pot holes, snow shoveling, Ronda's salary and Rosemary's breakfast this morning.

...and nothing but the facts

I am getting really tired of Moreno parroting the Rahm-rhetoric about TIF money building schools and playgrounds as if we were all too stupid to realize that if it hadn't been syphoned off in the first place, it would be in the school's capital fund-where it would be used to build schools and playgrounds. If Moreno was using campaign donations to pay Ronda's salary-what was he doing with the $100,000 plus dollars we the tax-payers gave him to staff his office? Mr. Moreno seems to have a real problem distinguishing HIS money from the TAX-PAYERS get what you vote for people. Moreno started out well when he was APPOINTED-but he found the life-style of the rich and famous is worth turning to the machine to preserve. This part-time alderman has no problem taking the TAXPAYERS generous $117,000 salary. He just also needs to augment it with another full-time job and endless contributions from developers needing favors...hey those suits cost money! Please people...get out and vote on Feb. 24th!!

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