1st Ward Democratic Committeeman race ramping up for a fight

Date: 
09/30/2019
BoxingGloves

Alderman Daniel La Spata's declaration on Friday in the race for the volunteer position as 1st Ward Democratic Committeeman, which is currently held by former 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, is heating up. 

La Spata's statement that "he [Moreno] intends to hold on to this seat" is apparently incorrect. According to a trusted source, Moreno is not intending to run. 

Another person rumored to be a candidate is a former holder of the position, Jesse Ruben Juarez. Juarez was formerly aligned with former Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios and Berrios' daughter Maria Antonia "Toni" Berrios, who was an Illinois House of Representatives member until 2015. He also has ties to a list of other Democratic leaders. 

At this point, Juarez told this reporter, "I still live in the 1st Ward but have not decided yet whether I'll run." 

Two people who have decided and are circulating petitions are Jay Ramirez and Lauren Young. 

Jay Ramirez says, "I am running. I've lived in West Town for 40 years and have worked as a volunteer throughout the State since I was a kid." 

The Democratic party hasn't gone in the right direction lately. "Preckwinkle and Berrios represent what the Party stood for years under the old machine," he says. 

As a requirement for the office, Ramirez believes it is important to know how the Party is structured and who the key people are, "I have been in the committeemen meetings and been a proxy. I know how it works. You have to have relationships." 

In keeping with that, he plans to work on getting the Democratic party more progressive. "I will do that by having open meetings with the public so that candidates can talk to everyday people." He has been part of these type of activities and meetings with current Committeeman Moreno. 

Regarding his opponent, La Spata, Ramirez says, "He doesn't have a grip. He hasn't done anything of significance as Alderman. He can't even open his office on time. 

"He keeps criticizing gentrification but he lives in a gentrified re-zoned condo. Odd he gets away with that.

"During the campaign, he said that an alderman should not also be the Ward Committeeman. Now he's running." 

La Spata's response to this last point is "I don't recall bringing it up. I was focused on winning the race I was in." 

"The organizing work I did with the People's Lobby the last three years was a great experience for building a robust inclusive democracy," says La Spata. "Very excited to bring that experience to the Committeeman's Office." 

Lauren Young, who has been circulating her petitions to be on the Committeeman Ballot, says, "I understand how important it is for local elected officials to be engaged with the residents they represent. 

"We aren’t seeing that with our new alderman [La Spata], and I want to ensure that there is someone on the local level in the Democratic Party that represents the interests of the residents of the 1st Ward." 

A resident of the West Town neighborhood for the last ten years, Young, who works as a paralegal, has been an active community volunteer. 

A board member of the Chicago Grand Neighborhood Association (CGNA), Young is a Community Policing Facilitator and Chair of the Court Advocates for the Near West District. Politically she was actively involved as a volunteer in the last aldermanic election. 

"Most recently, I joined the board of IVI-IPO Northwest Chapter and became a member of the Polish Triangle Coalition," said Young. 

"I will bring an independent and trusted voice to the elected office of 1st Ward Democratic Committeeperson."

And there we have it for the moment. Filing happens between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2 and the election will be on Primary Day, March 17, 2020.

Both political parties in Cook County have a structure of Ward and Township Committeemen, elected to the volunteer positions. 

Committeemen and Committeewomen are members of their respective party's voting body in the county. Their duties are focused around elections. They do all they can to get their candidates elected, starting with registration through voting.

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