Emanuel Must Now Contend With a Formidable and Emboldened Progressive Movement Willing to Challenge His Corporate Agenda
For Immediate Release: April 7th, 2015
(CHICAGO) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s deep campaign coffers, fueled by contributions from Chicago’s wealthy and corporate special interests, allowed Emanuel to retain his office against a formidable grassroots campaign from Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Emanuel’s millions in campaign cash allowed him to buy seemingly endless negative TV ads to distort Garcia’s policy positions and record. But Garcia’s grassroots campaign—powered by community groups, faith leaders, working families and labor allies—has now created the foundation for a resurgent progressive movement in Chicago, successfully cementing the narrative that Emanuel supports the richest 1% over Chicago’s neighborhoods and working families, and protecting and expanding the number of progressive aldermen in the City Council.
In fact, several aldermanic candidates campaigned and even won with an explicitly bold progressive agenda, including raising the minimum wage to $15; an elected and representative school board; a moratorium on privatization of city services; an end to regressive taxes like speed cameras; and reform of the corporate-sweetheart TIF program.
In response to tonight’s election results, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, issued the following statement:
“Tonight, we celebrate the incredible hard work of our member leaders, staff, community partners and labor allies who refused to allow Mayor Emanuel and his corporate cronies to buy this election without a fight.
“We witnessed incredible activism in our neighborhoods during this election as we continue to methodically build grassroots power and a movement to fight the corporate establishment and the special interests dictated by the richest 1%.
“We stood up to a bully – and held the Mayor of the 1% accountable for his attacks on teachers, his agenda to privatize education, and his immoral decision to close 53 neighborhood schools in communities of colors.
“Now that Chicago’s election has ended, it is important to reflect on the amazing progress that working families have made against Mayor Emanuel’s well-funded political machine. Not only did voters overwhelmingly approve a referendum in support of an elected school board back in February, we witnessed new progressive candidates and activists challenge Emanuel’s corporate agenda like never before.
“The media and political establishment all but declared Emanuel victorious just a few months ago. But Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia’s decision to enter the race – despite long odds – was a testament to his fervent belief that Chicago’s mayoral contest must be an election – not a coronation. We thank and honor Chuy Garcia for having the vision, strength, and perseverance to challenge Rahm Emanuel.
“Our members and working families across Chicago embraced Chuy Garcia’s message about the need to empower our communities and to provide real opportunity, prosperity, and fairness to everyone in Chicago – not just the wealthy few.
“We must now continue our momentum and demonstrate the full force of our grassroots power. That’s why our home care, nursing home, and hospital workers, along with child care providers, will join the estimated 10,000 workers in downtown Chicago on Wednesday, April 15th for the ‘Fight for $15’ national day of action – the single largest low-wage worker mobilization in Chicago to date
“Despite Rahm Emanuel’s reelection, tonight was a victory for working families as we have built a strong foundation, and coalesced grassroots energy into a new and assertive progressive movement to fight for working families in Chicago moving forward.