What does an anti-corruption platform mean for a committeeperson? It means identifying the holes in the system that leave big money speaking louder than working families' voices, and closing them. It means making sure the Democratic Party is working for you.
We need to close the revolving door of patronage politics we see all too often in Illinois. When lobbyists offer legislators lucrative lobbying jobs to influence their former colleagues, the integrity of our political system is compromised.
In Illinois, 30% of our general assembly was initially appointed by committeepeople, with current campaign finance laws, incumbency is a great gift rarely defeated —your committeeperson matters.
Low voter turnout benefits the incumbent, but not people’s voice. Our current committeeperson’s wife is our alderwoman; his lack of effort in our ward benefits her reelection. Before she became our alderwoman, he paid her thousands of dollars as “staff," the likes of which were not paid to anyone else before or after. During Debra's time as staff, Ira's committee also spent thousands on "staff parties."
But what work was done? The data shows registered voters are not reflective of the diversity of our ward. Further, voter turnout of registered voters varies by precinct from 18% to 66% in our last municipal election with a quarter of voters in the presidential primaries voting Republican.
Each election season judicial candidates go before the Democratic Party looking for endorsements. Similarly, judges line committemen’s pockets in the months before the slating of the democratic ticket.
After judges are slated, they are asked to contribute $40,000 to the Democratic party. This quid pro quo practice erodes the integrity of our judicial system and they system must be re-evaluated.
What does a committeperson do, anyway? While committeepeople should endorse, appoint, and slate candidates while working to get out the vote for the democratic ticket, each ward's democratic committee is run differently. Often, the party seat is held by another elected official and the line between publicly elected duties and party seat duties can get blurred. But if constituents are not clear on what a committeeman is supposed to do, how can we hold them accountable?
Finally, as long as committeeman remains an unpaid party seat, the people with the most influence in the Democratic Party will continue to be dominated by the elite. Now more than ever we need a Democratic Party that is in touch with working people, not calling in favors to wealthy friends.
How can one volunteer party position bring change to how politics in our ward is won?
By putting transparency, accessibility, and community voice first.
I will discourage patronage politics by making it clear to big lobby firms and elected officials that my vote in the appointing process cannot be bought. I will refuse any campaign contributions from those looking for my support in endorsing, appointing, or slating. I am not afraid to speak truth to power.
I will further work with committeepeople across the county to bring to the 50th ward an appointing process that engages community voice and augments transparency.
As a Chicago transplant and the wife of a new citizen, I understand first hand some of the barriers to voting. I will partner with community organizations and invested neighbors for targeted outreach to inform, register, and get out the vote. I plan to harness the power of young people and retirees to reach eligible voters in their native language, validate their voice, and empower their vote.
When nearly half the eligible voting population does not vote in a presidential election, they have lost faith that their voice matters.
We have the power to change that through waves of local confidence in the party system, and that starts with electing committeepeople who believe in engaging their constituents.
I will refuse money from candidates looking for my support during slating, endorsing, or appointing. I will work to ensure community voice and transparency in all my work, and collaborate with fellow committeepeople working towards the same.
The Democratic party needs to be revitalized with commiteepeople who will be innovative with their fundraising and restore the trust in our judicial system.
I will engage community organizations, local youth, and invested neighbors to support in our immediate goals of educating the ward on progressive democratic issues, hosting voter registration drives, and increasing voter turnout. I will also support your democratic elected officials in increasing their transparency through accessibility, targeted outreach and community engagement.
Finally, I will work with other progressive committeemen to build standards across our party that put the people first.