As the municipal elections approach, JCUA has been taking action to make sure civic engagement is a priority for Chicago’s Jewish community. We keep saying, because it bears repeating, If we want a city council and mayor that will support our campaigns for a more equitable Chicago, we need to work to elect representatives who feel accountable to us, our community partners, and our values. This looks a little different than our day-to-day community organizing, but it is actually a crucial piece of the social justice puzzle. I want to make sure everyone understands why JCUA is involved in the process, and why YOU should be too.
I’ve been organizing for almost 20 years, and over that time I’ve thought a lot about how elected officials and politicians make decisions. How do they decide if they are going to vote on your issue? And what I have learned is that most always it is in context of a political decision: it is about power. Every alderman is thinking, for example, how does a vote for GAPA or how does a vote against the #ErasetheDatabase help me. . . or hurt me in my re-election?
That is why many of our community partners have shifted their capacity and are now working on elections either in their c3 capacity or c4. Many of them are taking their personal time to work on specific campaigns. They are organizing around the elections as if their lives depended on it– because they do. The incoming slate must feel accountable to the people they are meant to represent, and to do that we need them to hear a powerful voice for equity in our city.
Chicago elections come around only once in four years. In order to be effective partners, and to continue to build the organizing power of the Jewish community in coalition with our community partners, our priorities must temporarily shift too.
JCUA works in coalition to bring our resources and power to bear, and in this moment we have had and continue to have unique opportunities to organize and be in relationship with our coalition partners:
- JCUA joined the Grassroots Collaborative bus tour which launched the #ReImagineChicago campaign. JCUA also endorsed the platform and was a cosponsor for the Grassroots Collaborative #ReImagineChicago Mayoral Forum on Chicago’s west side. Over 60 JCUA members attended.
- Over 50 JCUA members attended the CRS Faith in Action Assembly and Mayoral Candidates Forum, which focused on our ongoing police accountability campaigns. This event was co-moderated by JCUA board member Rabbi Capers Funnye.
- JCUA members were prepped and then attended aldermanic candidates forums to ask questions about our ongoing campaigns.
- We asked our Congregation Partners to sign a JCUA’s Get Out the Vote pledge.
- And…stay tuned for our upcoming aldermanic candidate voter guide! The guide provides extensive information about aldermanic candidates’ positions on issues important to JCUA.
As we continue to head into the Chicago election cycle, I am reminded of how much JCUA’s base has grown over the past few years. Over 110 members showed up at two candidate forums in one week. I am pleased to note that we are doing exactly what we set out to do when we embraced a community organizing model – we are organizing the Jewish community as a powerful partner for meaningful social change.
THIS is our work, tailored to this moment. Thank you for coming with us on this journey. Together let’s stay focused and make a difference in our city today, this month, this year, and for the long haul.