Illinois Socialists Now Outnumber Republicans on Chicago City Council

 

A quote taken from a taped conversation of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is displayed during closing arguments in the impeachment trial being held in the senate chamber at the Illinois capital building January 29, 2009 in Springfield, Illinois.
(Getty Images/Scott Olson)

Following a runoff election Tuesday and a general election in February, the city of Chicago now has five (and possibly 6, pending results) city council alderman, making their dominance over Republicans on the council (which number at 1) complete.

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) are positively giddy.

As co-chairs of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, we’re overjoyed with Tuesday’s aldermanic results. Three of the four DSA members running won their races outright: Andre Vasquez in the 40th Ward, Jeanette Taylor in the 20th and Byron Sigcho-Lopez in the 25th. The fourth, Rossana Rodriguez in the 33rd Ward, is still too close to call yet, but with 100 percent of precincts reporting, she is up by 64 votes.

And in the first round of elections on Feb. 26, Ald. Carlos Rosa, 35th, an incumbent DSA member on the council, trounced his opponent by nearly 20 percentage points. And DSA member Daniel La Spata beat incumbent Ald. Joe Moreno by an even larger margin in the 1st Ward.

The DSA says they won by running on a platform “against corporate greed, budget cuts and gentrification; and for Chicago’s working class,” and that the message obviously resonated with a huge swath of Chicagoans. They brag in their op-ed that their numbers have swelled following Trump’s election from 8,000 to more than 60,000.

Oh and by the way, their agenda is as follows:

The new socialist aldermen are going to fight for an agenda of expanding affordable housing, protecting immigrant rights, fully funding public schools, expanding public services and more. That agenda will be paid for not by raising taxes on working people, but by taxing the rich.

It’s tempting to worry about the embrace of an ideology that subjugates the individual to the will of the collective but it’s useful to remember that a recent report found Chicago to be the most corrupt city in the country, and Illinois the third most corrupt state. So the DSA can celebrate their wins but they come tainted with a skepticism born of an ingrained collective (heh) memory of how the Chicago political machine works.

But the best part about the Illinois socialists’ newfound freedom to celebrate is their honesty about exactly what it is they plan to do once they get in power. That’s a refreshing change, and a useful one.