“The Road to Success: How do Latino Politicians Get Elected in the Windy City?” – Gabriel E. Colón Caballero

Abstract

Name: Gabriel E. Colón Caballero

Department: Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, UIC

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Shortly after the end of World War II, demographic change and rapid industrialization led to a mass arrival of Latinos to Chicago. Latino civic engagement campaigns, a strong need for electoral representation, and rising population numbers translated into a stronger Latino presence in Chicago. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley could no longer ignore their presence in the city, and he extended his Democratic machine into the Latino community. At the time, many Latino aldermen joined the establishment because it was the only way to get into government and represent the Latino community. However, over time, there were those Latino office seekers who rejected machine style politics – a system historically based on spoils and patronage — in favor of more progressive approaches. This research presents a case study of the 2019 Chicago aldermanic race profiling the campaigns of two  Latino Democratic Socialist Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th ward) and Ald. Andre Vazquez (40th ward) — and two  Machine Democrats Ald. Daniel Solis (25th ward) and Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd ward) — in order to not only assess the strategies employed to win office, but to also examine how these individuals use their power to represent the Latino community once in office.. Tentative findings reveal that Latinos can run for office and win without relying on the Democratic machine, which is losing its power base. Though the machine has lost many of its key leaders, its influence is still felt in local politics. From a policy perspective, attention needs to be placed on campaign finance reform. Not only is there a need to limit campaign donations, but there needs to be greater transparency when it comes to funding.

Read more about Gabriel's work here