Lightfoot campaign’s email fail comes to light, ‘South Side’ canceled and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is a five-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivers the city’s 2022 budget proposal during a Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

This afternoon will be rainy with a high near 35 degrees. More rain is expected with a low near 33. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with a high near 42.

Top story

Lightfoot campaign sent 9,900 emails seeking support from CPS, City Colleges staff, documents show

When news broke last month that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection campaign had solicited help from Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago educators to recruit student volunteers, the incumbent candidate apologized, calling the effort a “bad mistake” by one young staffer.

But the campaign had for months been sending CPS and City Colleges staff thousands of other emails unrelated to the student volunteer solicitation — some from multiple campaign staffers. The emails ranged from generic fundraising appeals to invitations to private town halls and requests for help gathering petitions, records newly obtained by WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times show. 

Four emails were sent to City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado — who reports to the mayor — at his work email address inviting him to a Lightfoot campaign event.

In all, the mayor’s reelection campaign sent more than 9,900 emails to CPS and City Colleges staff beginning last April, according to documents obtained through public records requests that reveal the previously unreported breadth of the outreach to government employees. The emails went to at least 64 City Colleges staff members starting in July. It’s unclear how many individual CPS staff members were emailed, as those details were not provided.

A City Colleges spokesperson said that Salgado “has not attended a political event for any candidate running for office in more than a year.” 

It is customary for political campaigns to send out mass email blasts — which are often automated — to long lists of subscribers. But it’s unclear why CPS and City Colleges employees have for months received campaign emails at their work addresses or whether they signed up themselves.

Read the full investigation from our Nader Issa and WBEZ’s Sarah Karp, Tessa Weinberg and Mariah Woelfel here.

More news you need

City Council races

So many candidates filed to run in the South Side’s 21st Ward that even though half were ultimately knocked from the ballot or withdrew in the face of challenges, seven remain to battle it out for a City Council seat that has not been open for at least 40 years.

That’s more than three times as many candidates as in the nearby 18th Ward, where only one challenger filed to run against the incumbent fighting for a third term.

Despite the different levels of competition, what the two South Side wards share are calls for a revival in businesses, specifically those tied to entertainment options and healthy, family eating, including both sit-down restaurants and grocery stores. 

In the 18th Ward, Ald. Derrick Curtis has held the City Council seat for eight years and the Democratic committeeperson post for 12. Challenging him is Heather Wills, a labor organizer who supports mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green’s public bank idea to ensure residents can get loans to start businesses.

Just to the southeast, the race in the 21st Ward is much more crowded. When Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. announced his pending retirement in August after nearly 20 years on City Council and a failed run for judge it set off a stampede for a seat that has been filled by an incumbent in City Council races dating back to at least the early 1980s.

With the path clear for the first time in decades, 14 candidates filed to run in November. But after a series of challenges and voluntary withdrawals, seven candidates are left. If no one wins a majority next week, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff election April 4. The 21st Ward candidates include Preston Brown, Kweli Kwaza, Daliah Goree, Ayana Clark, Cornell Dantzler, Ronnie Mosley and Larry Lloyd. Zack Miller has more on the 21st and 18th ward races here.

A bright one

Nina Sánchez works to liberate her community through creativty

From a young age, has been connecting with her community.

Looking back on her childhood in Pilsen, she recalls her family playing an active role in building community — greeting and connecting with every family in the neighborhood. Formative experiences such as these left an indelible mark on Sánchez, as she would go on to become a champion for cultural change in her community through the arts.

Beginning her artistic journey with creative writing, she learned sharing her story and stories like hers has a positive impact on her community. Now, as an anti-racism organizer, Sánchez uses her creative foundation to liberate her community by modeling what liberation looks like now. Sánchez’s passion for writing and telling stories grew into creating 51st Ward Books, named after an idealized “51st Ward” of Chicago, what she calls “the Chicago of her imagination.”

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Nina Sánchez

Makenzie Creden/ Vocalo Radio, Chicago Public Media

51st Ward Books is Chicago’s first dedicated bilingual/Spanish, social justice-centered bookshop for children.

Through the bookstore, Sánchez now empowers her community by telling the stories she wishes she had as a child. 

“We do the work of 51st Ward Books as one way to express our creativity, but also as a way to bring justice-informed books into languages, to Chicago’s Latinx community,” Sánchez says.

Our colleagues have more with Sánchez and 51st Ward Books here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

How would you describe what dating in Chicago is like to someone new here?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What Midwest city — hands down — has the best paczki?

Here’s what some of you said...

“Chicago has the best paczki, no contest. We moved to Indiana so now we have to buy pseudo paczki. Not so good.” — Jo Ann Reksel 

“Hamtramck, Michigan — great taste and the most filing.” — Gregory Pelc

“Chicago. There are so many awesome Polish bakeries throughout the city and the suburbs also. Weber’s Bakery on the SW side, on Archer Avenue, is one of the best.” — Daniel Novik

“Fingerhut Bakery in Knox, Indiana — they are so fresh and delicious.” — Stephanie McCarthy

“Chicago — because they really know how to make them!” — Colleen Koloffon

“Chicago, mainly because we have such a large population of Polish immigrants.” — Donna Schraeder

“I guarantee the best paczki are made by Polish grandmothers that live in Chicagoland.” — Robert Barrutia

Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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