Chicago Teachers Union To Vote On Backing Toni Preckwinkle In Mayor’s Race

By By Gregory Pratt, Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Teachers Union’s political and legislative committees have recommended endorsing Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the Chicago mayor’s race and nearly two dozen other candidates, a copy of an internal communication shows.

That doesn’t necessarily guarantee Preckwinkle will end up with the endorsement, however. Though the executive committee “supported by large margins” the recommended endorsements, the matter now heads to the union’s House of Delegates, which is known for lively debate. The delegates will consider the endorsement Wednesday.

But Preckwinkle, who frequently mentions her past as a teacher, has assiduously courted the union’s support, staking out positions on key issues for the union such as an elected Chicago Public Schools board and a vow to freeze charter schools and school closings for four years. Preckwinkle also joined dozens of striking charter school teachers and their supporters along picket lines this week.

The delegates also will consider endorsing incumbent City Council members Sophia King, Leslie Hairston, Roderick Sawyer, Susan Sadlowski Garza, Marty Quinn, Toni Foulkes, David Moore, Chris Taliaferro, Scott Waguespack, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and John Arena.

In addition, the recommendation is to support challengers Rafa Yanez in the 15th ward, Mike Rodriguez in the 22nd, Byron Sigcho in the 25th, Rossana Rodriguez in the 33rd, Tara Stamps in the 37th, Dianne Daleiden in the 40th, Erika Wozniak in the 46th, and Maria Hadden in the 49th, as well as Jeanette Taylor in the 20th, where a large field is seeking to replace Willie Cochran who is walking away amid federal corruption charges.

The committees also favor Melissa Conyears-Ervin in the race for city treasurer against Ald. Ameya Pawar, the message shows.

CTU contributed heavily to Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s 2015 mayoral race and the union has been one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s most vociferous critics.

The message notes that the city elections in February “promise to reshape the alignment of power and influence in city politics” and notes the union’s goal is to set the terms of the electoral debate.

Last month, CTU at its headquarters teamed with other unions and organizations to host a forum titled “The Great Displacement,” billed as a discussion focused on “reversing African-American pushout and building a Chicago for the many.” It was sponsored by some of the city’s largest labor organizations with large black memberships, including CTU, health care workers, transportation employees, electrical workers and letter carriers, along with organizations such as United Working Families, UNITE Here, Action Now and Grassroots Illinois Action.

Appearing by invitation were Preckwinkle, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot and Austin Chamber of Commerce Director Amara Enyia. Organizers said Preckwinkle and Mendoza were included because they drew the most support in a union poll, while Vallas, Enyia and Lightfoot received the next largest share of “enthusiasm” in a text message and social media poll.

“Our process is driven by our rank and file leadership and has been for decades,” union spokeswoman Chris Geovanis said. “Our House of Delegates has final approval on endorsements, and they haven’t considered or approved any mayoral endorsement yet. Everything is conjecture until then.”

Chicago Tribune’sJuan Perez Jr. contributed.

This article provided by NewsEdge.