For months, African-American aldermen aligned with Mayor Rahm Emanuel have been bracing for the Chicago Teachers Union to target incumbents the union considers too cozy with the mayor.
More recently, they have wondered what will happen to the movement to elect a more independent City Council now that brain cancer has forced charismatic CTU President Karen Lewis to drop out of the mayor’s race.
This week, the Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates served notice that, with or without Lewis, the union is determined to become a player in aldermanic races.
At the same meeting where the House of Delegates followed Lewis’ lead in endorsing County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for mayor, the nearly 600 delegates endorsed CTU members now running against incumbent aldermen in three wards: the 10th, 33rd and 37th.
Sue Sadlowski Garza is the CTU’s candidate against 15-year veteran Ald. John Pope (10th). She’s a counselor at Jane Addams Elementary and the daughter of union leader and veteran Southeast Side community activist Edward Sadlowski.
In the 33rd Ward, Tim Meegan is the CTU’s candidate to take on Ald. Deb Mell (33rd), who was appointed by Emanuel to replace her father in a classic political deal engineered after the mid-term retirement of veteran Democratic warhorse Richard Mell.
Meegan is a social studies teacher at Roosevelt High School and a member of the Albany Park Neighborhood Council.
The CTU’s candidate to take on mayoral ally Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) is Tara Stamps, a fifth-grade teacher at Jenner Elementary. Stamps is the daughter of longtime community activist Marion Stamps, who was a fixture at City Council and Chicago Housing Authority meetings for decades.
Stacy Davis-Gates, the CTU’s legislative and political director, could not be reached for comment on how much money and manpower the CTU intends to provide for its aldermanic candidates or whether the three candidates already endorsed would be the first of many.
A news release issued by the union quoted Davis-Gates as calling Garza, Meegan and Stamps “hardworking leaders who love Chicago and have a vision for its future. … They have been base-building in their wards and in this city for years on social justice and educational issues.”
Since August, all three endorsed candidates and their fellow CTU members have been “reaching out to thousands of Chicagoans” on issues ranging from an elected school board and crime prevention to pension protection and raising the minimum wage, the union said.
“Chicagoans are voicing their desire for change on the 5th floor [mayor’s office] of City Hall and among the mayor’s rubber stamp aldermen in the City Council,” the news release stated.
The new super PAC created to re-elect Emanuel and his City Council allies has already raked in nearly $2.5 million since its June launch, thanks to steady donations from business titans, philanthropists and organized labor.
The super PAC also has taken its first concrete step to identify aldermanic candidates it considers worthy of its endorsement by sending out an issue-oriented questionnaire to 53 aldermanic candidates who have formed campaign fundraising committees and filed so-called D-1 forms with the Illinois State Board of Elections.