Garcia to supporters: “We will continue to fight to make Chicago work for all residents.”
Chuy Garcia and wife 13 hours before polling places closes
Supporters of people-powered campaign that forced historic runoff vow to continue to build movement for progressive change across city.
CHICAGO, (April 7, 2015) — Mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia conceded to incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday night, in a hard-fought grassroots campaign that came close to beating one of the richest war chests in the history of municipal elections.
Garcia’s independent effort was outspent by eight dollars to one. Yet a largely volunteer effort was able to marshal support from across the city’s diverse ethnic communities and racial groups — and on election night, the candidate acknowledged and celebrated the breadth and dynamism of that diverse support.
“Today, tens of thousands of people from all over this great city came together — people from the north side and the south side and the southeast side and the northwest side and the southwest side — people of every color and creed, people who speak every language on the face of this earth,” said Garcia “People — good, hardworking people — came together today and spoke with one clear voice to say you want to be heard. You want a government that works for you. You want a city that works for everyone, and I mean everyone — not just for downtown or for the neighborhoods, but for both. We’ve got some big problems in Chicago, and no matter who is Mayor, we’ve got to work together to solve them.”
Garcia kicked off his petition drive in late October — and less than a month later filed more than 63,000 signatures to win a slot on the ballot. Volunteers pushed Garcia’s long history of progressive activism and his commitment to accountability and equity in government — and for the first time in the 30-year history of non-partisan mayoral races, forced an incumbent mayor into a run-off.
Garcia’s volunteers fielded precinct operations in Chicago’s historically African American neighborhoods on the south and west sides, the heavily Latino neighborhoods of Pilsen, Little Village, Logan Square and Albany Park — and in white southwest side working class communities like Beverly and Morgan Park. In his election night remarks, Garcia spoke directly to the range of issues that pulled supporters to the polls — and how the city could move forward.
“In the last fifteen years, Chicago has lost over 200,000 people who just up and left,” said Garcia. “You can’t have a thriving city unless people are moving here, not leaving. That means a growing middle class, not a shrinking one — a less violent city, with great schools and thriving neighborhoods. A prosperous, growing city won’t have a pile of bills it can’t pay and a pile of forgotten people it can’t care for.”
Some of the region’s most progressive unions organized for Garcia, with the Chicago Teachers Union and their president Karen Lewis and SEIU Healthcare Illinois leading that charge from the earliest days of the campaign.
Other labor union endorsers included Amalgamated Transit Union Locals 241 and 308 and Amalgamated Transit Union International, the American Federation of Teachers, Chicago ACTS, which organizes charter school teachers, Chicago Fire Department Paramedics and EMS Professionals, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Communication Workers of America and CWA District 4, the Cook County College Teachers Union Local 1600, Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, National Nurses United, SEIU Local 1, SEIU Illinois State Council, Teamsters Locals 743 and 705, United Electrical Workers, United Steelworkers District 7, United Working Families and Workers United.
Garcia also drew endorsements from a wide range of local and national figures — including civil rights and labor icon Dolores Huerta and the son of Cesar Chavez, with whom Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers. Feminist Gloria Steinem and Congresswoman Maxine Waters jointly endorsed Garcia, and other national endorsers included Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean, and former Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Diane Ravitch. Endorsing ministers included Rev. Leonard DeVille, Rev. Ira Acree, Rev. Marshall Hatch, former mayoral candidate Dr. Willie Wilson, and Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Garcia drew endorsements from a wide range of reform-minded Illinois elected officials, including U.S. Congressman Danny Davis, Cook County Clerk David Orr, former Chicago City Clerk Miguel Del Valle, former Chicago Alderman and retired State Appellate Judge John Steele, retired Judge William Haddad, Illinois State Senator Willie Delgado (2nd District), Illinois State Representative Mary Flowers (31st District), former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, Jr., Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), Ald. Toni Foulkes (15), Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22) and Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), Alderman-elect David Moore (17) and Alderman-elect Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), Water Reclamation District Commissioner Barbara McGowan, Cook County Commissioners Richard Boykin (1), Robert Steele (2), Stanley Moore (4) and Luis Arroyo, Jr. (8), and former Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele.
A range of organizations endorsed and worked to rally support for Garcia, including MoveOn, Democracy for America, Reclaim Chicago, Citizen Action/Illinois, Arab American Democratic Club, Working Families, Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization, Daily Kos. Grassroots Illinois Action, the Alliance for Filipino Rights and Empowerment, City Workers Past and Present, AmVote and the Indo-American Democratic Organizations.
That broad coalition, said Garcia, lies at the heart of a renewed spirit of engagement in the city that can help transform Chicago into a city that works for all its residents.
“Today, tens of thousands of people voted for a Chicago where everyone has a voice, and where our leaders really listen — a Chicago people want to move to, not run away from — a Chicago that works for you, not just a few,” said Garcia. “We may have fallen short on votes today, but we will make sure these people’s voices are heard. We will not stop fighting for people — not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”