fresh voices from the front lines of change







On a Wednesday evening in February, Marta Popadiak, the organizing director for People’s Lobby and Reclaim Chicago, was busy making phone calls to voters in Chicago’s 33rd ward for left-wing Chicago City Council candidate Rossana Rodriguez. With each call, she asked voters to talk about the kinds of changes they want to see in their community. During one exchange, a voter spoke of her fear of violence.

“She said, ‘I got this mailer, and it’s saying that Rossana wants to defund the police, and I’m worried that that would make our community less safe,’” Popadiak recalled, adding that she, in turn, asked the voter to share more about why she was so concerned. Popadiak then described how people are told that police are the way to keep communities safe, but that this strategy is not actually working.

“I said that Rossana had worked with youth, and her students felt safest when they were getting support and investment, mental-health care, access to healthy food, and adults who cared about them,” Popadiak added. The voter said she liked what Popadiak was saying about Rossana and generally felt like she was ready for a change.

This kind of political education, which connects people’s immediate concerns and experiences with transformative visions for the kind of world we want to build, has played a significant role in electoral work that has been taking place in Chicago over the past few years. This work culminated in major wins for left candidates in the elections that finished this week. Six unapologetic progressives­—Andre Vazquez, Jeanette Taylor, Matt Martin, Byron Sigcho, Daniel La Spata, and Maria Hadden—are joining the City Council, and a seventh—Rossana Rodriguez—is ahead by a razor-thin margin as absentee ballots are counted. The number of aldermen with left politics in the City Council has more than doubled as a result of this election.

Read more at The Nation

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