U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-4th) announces his endorsement of the mayoral candidacy of Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D-1st).--Supplied photo

U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-4th) announces his endorsement of the mayoral candidacy of Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D-1st).--Supplied photo

Taking sides in mayoral race

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Clearing, Garfield Ridge endorsements start to emerge

By Tim Hadac

While neither Paul Vallas nor Brandon Johnson has campaigned to any significant degree in Clearing or Garfield Ridge, their supporters—including several here in the neighborhood–are starting to go public.

The latest endorsement to be snagged occurred last Friday, when U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-4th), who failed on Feb. 28 to advance to the April 4 mayoral runoff election, announced his support of Johnson.

“Chicago will once again become a world-class city when Brandon Johnson is elected mayor,” García said at a press conference at a church at 23rd and Millard, in the heart of the congressman’s longtime 22nd Ward power base. “There is power and strength in unity. Chicagoans need a mayor who will serve them, regardless of where they live, who they love or what country they were born in. I’m ready to do my part to build the welcoming Chicago we deserve, with Brandon as mayor.”

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U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-4th) announces his endorsement of the mayoral candidacy of Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D-1st).–Supplied photo

Johnson was delighted and noted that as a community organizer, he worked to try and elect García mayor in 2015. He ladled praise on the congressman as a man who stands up for what’s right.

He said his alliance with García signals a resurgence of the black and Latino coalition that Mayor Harold Washington forged in the 1980s. “On April 4, black and brown are gonna get lit,” he said as his supporters cheered.

The Fourth Congressional District includes the eastern third of Clearing and Garfield Ridge.

To some political observers, García’s endorsement was no surprise, given the congressman’s left-wing ideological proximity to Johnson and his role as a critic of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration in the 1990s, of which Vallas was a central figure.

On top of that, the congressman appeared to tip his hand in an op ed he wrote in the Chicago Tribune on March 14, in which his “what the next mayor must do” advice appeared to echo Johnson’s campaign talking points.

While García’s backing may very well be the “major announcement” Johnson touted it as the night before, its impact in Clearing and Garfield Ridge remains to be seen, given the congressman’s performance locally in the mayoral primary.

In the 13th Ward, which includes all of Clearing, as well as all of Garfield Ridge south of 55th Street, Vallas finished first among all nine mayoral candidates on Feb. 28. He racked up 7,151 (55%) votes. García finished a distant second with 3,394 (26%), and Johnson ended far behind in fourth with 789 (6%).

In the 23rd Ward, which includes all of Garfield Ridge north of 55th Street, Vallas won decisively with 4,264 (47%) on Feb. 28. García finished second with 3,036 (33%), and Johnson ended far back in fourth place with 608 (7%).

But even those numbers may overstate García’s popularity in Clearing and Garfield Ridge, since the 13th and 23rd Wards include large portions of neighborhoods east of the airport. Archer Heights, West Elsdon and West Lawn have higher percentages of Hispanic voters than do Clearing and Garfield Ridge, and Hispanic voters are García’s base.

Election day is Tuesday, April 4, but early voting in all 50 wards began this week. Local early-voting sites include the Clearing Branch Library, 6423 W. 63rd Place, and Ward Hall, 5157 S. McVicker. Early-voting hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Voters who want to cast a ballot in their home precinct on April 4 but aren’t sure where their polling place is should visit chicagoelections.gov.

Back in the neighborhood

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Twenty-third Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares announces her support for mayoral hopeful Paul Vallas at a recent press conference. –Supplied photo

The biggest truly local endorsement to be snagged yet is that of 23rd Ward Ald. and Democratic Committeeman Silvana Tabares. Fresh off a landslide re-election triumph on Feb. 28, she announced her backing of Vallas for mayor in the April 4 runoff election.

“Paul Vallas is the right choice for mayor because he’s the only candidate who will revitalize our police department and put more officers into our neighborhoods to make our families safer,” Tabares said. “The contrast between these two candidates could not be more clear, and Brandon Johnson’s plans to defund the police are the exact wrong approach right now for Chicago. I’m with Paul because problems need solutions, not slogans.”

Tabares’ branding of Johnson as a “defund the police” candidate will doubtless play well in the ward, heavy with law enforcement officers, their families and supporters.

Her endorsement last week was made with 30th Ward Ald. Ariel Reboyras and 31st Ward Ald. Felix Cardona Jr.

“I’m incredibly thankful to Aldermen Tabares, Cardona Jr. and Reboyras for supporting our campaign,” Vallas said. “Leaders from throughout the city representing every community are rallying behind our campaign because they know that we will put crime reduction and public safety first.”

Beyond Tabares, Vallas has the support of Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch President Al Cacciottolo and Garfield Ridge Civic League President Jason Huff. Both men were recently elected to the new Chicago Lawn (8th) District Police Council.

Yet to make an endorsement is 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn or his political mentor, longtime 13th Ward Democratic Committeeman Michael J. Madigan. Quinn did not respond to a Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound request for comment.

Labor backing Vallas 

Clearing resident and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President John Catanzara, fresh off his own re-election triumph, reminded the rank and file earlier this month of the union’s support for Vallas.

“Let’s make sure we get our ballots in, and make sure we get Vallas across the line, not only for our sake, but for this city’s sake,” he said.

He added that the union has agreed to a 60-day pause in arbitration with city government, pending the outcome of the mayoral election. Saying the arbitration calendar will resume on May 1, Catanzara predicted, “If Vallas is elected, we’ll get a lot of this done…all of this done, negotiating the way we should have to begin with.”

But Clearing and Garfield are considerably more than the “cop neighborhoods” some think of them as. Many belong to other unions that have stepped forward for Vallas.

The former Chicago Public Schools CEO has been endorsed by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 and Local 399, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134 and Local 9, Teamsters JC 25, Firefighters Local 2 and Plumbers Local 130.

“We support Paul Vallas for mayor as he clearly recognizes and values the importance of the work of the 6,000-plus skilled labor force of our Plumbers Local 130 UA to the City of Chicago,” said Jim Coyne, Local 130 Business Manager. “Paul understands and supports the Plumbers License Law, and the City of Chicago Plumbing Code, which is the strictest in the nation. It is because of these Codes, that the health of the nation including the City of Chicago is protected. We know we can count on Paul to support Plumbers Local 130 as mayor.”

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In the face of overwhelming support from Chicgo Teachers Union leadership and much of the CTU rank and file, Vallas has enlisted the support of individual CPS teachers and principals, such as retired Principal Jacqueline Anderson-Houzz (pictured) and Pam Massarsky, a former chief negotiator for CTU, and Whitney Young Magnet High School Principal Dr. Joyce Kenner. –Screenshot from a Vallas campaign video

Vallas said, “Chicago is a union city and I’ve always had great respect for the role that organized labor plays in leveling the playing field and making sure that the investments we make in our communities are always shared by the middle class and working families. I’m thrilled to earn these endorsements today from three of our city’s leading labor organizations, and as mayor I will work hard to create more opportunities for working men and women.”

Johnson has been endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, of which he is a member.

“Like [Mayor Harold] Washington, Johnson has ignited a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational working class movement — a new Rainbow Coalition — that speaks to the hopes and desires of black and brown communities that have been ignored and faced disinvestment for decades,” said CTU President Stacy Davis Gates. “With Brandon on the fifth floor of City Hall, we will finally have a mayor who envisions — and fights for — the city all Chicagoans deserve.”

He also is backed by Service Employees International Union Local 73.

“In 2011 Brandon joined the resurgent Chicago Teachers Union as an organizer,” SEIU officials said in a statement. “Brandon helped to organize the monumental 2012 CTU strike and fought against the onslaught of closings and privatization in Black and Latinx schools. In 2015 Brandon led field campaigns that forced an historic mayoral runoff and 18 aldermanic runoffs in the city of Chicago.”

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