We Need a City Council That Reflects Chicago’s Diversity | Editorial

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The year 2019 brought a wave of change to Chicago City Council as new faces demanded a seat at the table and voters did.

The results were historic. It was a sign that we are getting closer to our elected officials to look like the real Chicago we see when we go to our local convenience store, walk by the lake, or take the L.

First, with Lori Lightfoot, the city‘s first black woman and openly gay mayor. And then with the greatest number of Latino aldermen of all time and the fewest white aldermen since the adoption of the district system in 1923.

Then came 2021 with a reminder of what should motivate us to keep moving forward and have a local government that best reflects its citizens – census numbers. Vital data that will inform and influence the way in which the map of the city’s neighborhoods will be redrawn.

“What he’s basically saying is that we have a city that’s one third black, one third white, one third Latin, and then 5 or 7% of the Asian community,” Sylvia Puente, president, told The Sun. and CEO of the Latino Policy Forum. Times she first saw the data in August. “The challenge is that population numbers don’t always translate into fairness in the allocation of resources, fairness in our office holders, fairness in various ways.

Our municipal government should represent who and what Chicago is today – a majority minority city. We cannot let the crude political interest of keeping a seat stand in the way of the ambitious goal of mirroring the city we represent with. Cards cannot be designed just to protect cardholders.

Chicago is now 31.4% white, 29.9% Latino, 28.7% black and 6.9% Asian. On the city council, Latinos hold 12 seats, while white and black aldermen each hold 19 seats.

Latinos and Asians are the ethnic groups that have experienced the fastest growing populations in the entire city over the past decade. There are now more than 819,000 Latinos in Chicago, up from 778,000 who lived here in 2010. The number of Asian residents in the city has also grown from about 144,000 in 2010 to more than 189,000 in 2020, a growth over 45,000.

There is currently no Asian representation on the city council. Person who is more likely to accurately represent, advocate and understand the growing needs of their community.

In 2019, community activists and political newcomers of the time Andre Vasquez (40th) and Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) overthrew two titular white aldermen, bringing Latin American representation on the Council to 24%.

Lagging behind their population growth, members of the Chicago City Council Latino caucus have been more willing to ask questions such as “How are Latinos benefiting from this initiative?” And, when it comes to specific city contracts, “How many Hispanic companies are there on this?” “

It goes without saying that each group will want their voice to be heard. It is a guarantee that, when voting on proposed budgets or ordinances, everyone wants answers about how a vote can harm or benefit the people they represent. The questions that the Latino aldermen have asked themselves are those which can lead to fairness and which come closest to fairness in negotiations.

Your representative does not need to be like you to protect and serve what matters most to your community or parish. But when the time comes to make a difficult decision, it’s more likely that a black person understands the challenges black people face and an Asian person advocates for the needs of the Asian community.

Breaking a 1923 diversity record is to be applauded. Briefly. It should also make us think about how long it took us to get here, and how much faster it could have been accomplished if city council had transformed along with our diversifying city.

The consolidated primary elections will take place on February 28, 2023, followed by the general election on April 4. These dates will arrive before you know it, and new faces in Chicago politics will begin to appear.

For those who are interested in change and have an idea of ​​what they want their local government to look like in 2023, now is the time to act.

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