Union worker Ana Santoyo becomes fourth challenger to Alderman James Gardiner; Santoyo plans to bring a ‘fighting, socialist campaign to Chicago’s 45th Ward’
by BRIAN NADIG
Union library worker Ana Santoyo launched her 45th Ward aldermanic candidacy at an Oct. 4 rally that earlier in the day Santoyo tweeted would include a “protest of police terror.”
Santoyo, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, becomes the fourth candidate to announce their candidacy against Alderman James Gardiner, who is seeking a second term in the City Council.
A campaign volunteer said that the word “socialism” can scare some people but that the movement simply means putting “power into the hands of the people.”
The other challengers, who have been featured in earlier articles in Nadig Newspapers, are Northwest Chicago Historical Society president and former Jefferson Park Forward board member Susanna Ernst, attorney and Belding Local School Council chairperson Megan Mathias, and Jefferson Park resident Marija Tomic.
Santoyo’s campaign website states that “real change begins with a truly progressive political program based on equity, justice and guaranteed human rights for all.”
Santoyo has been active in Justice for Anthony Alvarez, who last year was fatally shot by a 16th (Jefferson Park) District officer during a foot chase.
Her website states that Santoyo wants safe communities but that police are “frequently a source of danger for our residents” and that racial harassment and profiling by the police are serious problems.
Santoyo’s Oct. 4 campaign event was held across from the 16th District Station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave., where in contrast Gardiner, a firefighter, has sponsored support the police rallies.
On other issues, Santoyo wants new zoning developments in the ward to have more than the minimum 20-percent affordable housing requirement and wants the ban on rent control lifted. She also supports removing the police from schools, increasing the minimum wage to $20 per hour and making the CTA free for riders, according to her website.
She also pledges to rid the 45th Ward of “far-right and fascist elements” such as the Proud Boys and “Blue Lives Matters.” She claims these groups hold rallies in an attempt to intimidate the working-class and non-white residents of the ward.
Gardiner has said that public safety is the top issue in the ward. “If our residents aren’t safe, everything else is meaningless,” he said. He also said that the “defund the police” movement has led to policies that restrict the ability of officers to do their job effectively.
Ernst said that she would bring back ward nights in which residents can meet with her to discuss their concerns and hold “civic nights” for community leaders, adding that for too long there has been too much divisiveness in the ward.
“I think we can execute on this if we just start talking to one another,” Ernst said. “We all want what’s best for the community.”
Ernst also said that the ward has many vacant lots, including some that were upzoned years ago, and “It’s time to start thinking what we are going to do next.”
Mathias has been working on her campaign since last year. “I will draw on decades of experience as a lawyer, mother, active community member and small business owner to represent our diverse community with grit and determination,” Mathias said.
She said that the community wants “genuine leadership” that will bring residents together around shared goals.
Tomic said that as alderperson she would address crime by working to stop the deployment of local officers to other parts of the city and restore mental health services. She called Jefferson Park “a small town in a big city” but said that “the small town I once knew has started to slip away and the quality of life is different that when I was my children’s ages.”
The 45th Ward under the remap lost sections of Old Irving Park and gained portions of Edgebrook and Norwood Park. It also includes large sections of Jefferson Park, Portage Park and Gladstone Park.