United Working Families has six at-large delegates who sit on our Party Committee and help set the direction and carry out the work of building independent political power. This year, we have 8 candidates running for at-large delegate seats. Read their questionnaires here and come to the Convention to elect our next term of at-large delegates: We have six at-large delegate positions. In 2018, 4 current delegates are running for re-election and 4 are running as new candidates:
RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION:
Mayra Lopez-Zuñiga: Bio: Mayra is the proud daughter of immigrant parents who moved to Chicago from Mexico in search of a better future. Her family settled in the Back of the Yards community, where she grew up confronted by the realities of growing up in a low-income immigrant community. Mayra has been organizing in Chicago for the past 8 years. The majority of that time, she organized with The Resurrection Project (TRP) where she organized around education, redistricting, and immigration reform in Back of the Yards. Mayra led a successful campaign in 2011 to advocate for a new ward in the City of Chicago’s redistricting process. The campaign specifically demanded to consolidate the number of wards that encompassed the Back of the Yards community, leading to the creation of the new 15th ward. In 2013, Mayra’s work shifted to focus on education and parent engagement. She led the implementation and expansion for the Parent Mentor Program and created the organization’s base for parent engagement. In 2015, Mayra took a short break to work as a field organizer for the Garcia for Chicago campaign where she was the field director for all of the southwest side wards with a Latino majority population. In 2016, Mayra helped elect the first Asian American legislator to the Illinois Legislature, State Representative Theresa Mah. Early in 2017, Mayra became District Director for Representative Mah. She continues to be actively involved in Back of the Yards, Pilsen and McKinley Park where she currently resides. Mayra graduated from University of Chicago in 2010 with a B.A. in Anthropology and Latin American studies. She is proud graduate of Chicago Public Schools and an alumni fellow of UnidosUS’s National Institute for Latino School Leadership. Why do we need to build an independent political party? We need an independent political party to elect people whose values and desire to run for office align to a political platform that aims to represent working class people, people of color, undocumented folks and any group who is often disenfranchised from the political system. Every day, more and more, money and special interest corrupts the way our political system works. Currently, machine politics has monopolized the way people become elected officials. If people are interested in running for office, they must align themselves to elected officials, even if their values and work ethic is questionable. This is why it is so imperative for us to create a alternative way for people, specially everyday people, to become involved with politics and run for office. We need to create a way for our progressive moment to elect people to office and I think United Working Families should and can be that vehicle. Together we can create a way for elected officials to become accountable to their constituencies and empower people to vote people out of office when they are not doing right by them. At the same time, we need to broaden the pool of candidates, create a bench of progressive elected officials who come from our movement. I think UWF can become the vehicle to run and elect movement elected officials and to keep them accountable too. What is your vision for UWF and how do you see your role in achieving that vision? As mentioned before, I think there is great need for an alternative political space in Chicago. I space for people politics. My vision is that United Working Families becomes that space. I hope UWF becomes as space where people on the ground can find support to run people from the community to office. My hope is that the work and platform of UWF is shaped by the membership and in turn it’s membership define and keep accountable the work of the organization so that the work and politics of the organization are always relevant to the communities it encompasses. This way, the organization can also be supportive when people on the group wish to hold their elected officials accountable. I want UWF to become a powerful coalition of people in Chicago who are defining the standards for good, accountable, community centered elected officials. I am running for United Working Families’ party committee because in my short time doing electoral politics in the City of Chicago, I have observed a hunger for change among the Latino community. People are tired of politics as usual and although that has created a deep distrust of the way politics works, people are also challenging the way they see elected officials. People are challenging the perception of their agency within the system. If we set forth higher standards for our elected officials, hold them accountable for listening to constituent concerns, and taking action on issues relevant to the communities they represent – perhaps our quality of life would improve. However, there is a gap between the organizing happening on the ground in the communities and building the capacity needed to run successful campaigns. I believe my skills as community organizer, field director for political campaigns and my current role as District Director for an elected official can be helpful to UWF as we create a platform for the upcoming year leading up to 2019. I want to help create a platform that encompasses issues that matter to people in the southwest side of Chicago. I have plenty of relationships in the southwest side of Chicago that I would love to activate and bring forth to UWF to grow our movement and power. What political and activist work have you done, including work to build United Working Families? I have 8+ years of experience in Chicago. A lot of my organizing work is centered on community and political organizing with individuals in Pilsen and Back of the Yards. My first organizing campaign was around redistricting in 2011 negotiating with the Latino and Black caucus around a unified and compact ward encompassing Back of the Yards. In 2014, I helped Rafael Yanez campaign for 15th ward alderman and in 2015 I was one of the first Field Directors hire by the Garcia for Chicago campaign where I oversaw most of Southwest Side wards in Chicago. In 2016, I helped Theresa Mah in her campaign for State Representative and I have worked with her for the past two years as her Chief of Staff. Most recently, I was the campaign manager for the Team Chuy slate which successfully elected Beatriz Frausto Sandoval as Subcircuit judge, Alma Anaya as Cook County commissioner and Aaron Ortiz as State Representative. I have been on the UWF Party Committee since 2017 and also sit on the Political Committee where I have helped guide the endorsement process. Organization affiliations (unions, community groups, etc): Mijente, We are Back of the Yards, UWF
Jay Travis: Bio: I am an organizer with a 25-year track record of grassroots organizing and coalition building with low-income and working families. As one of the youngest Executive Director of Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, I led one of Chicago’s oldest, Black, intergenerational organizations that organized to address the housing, employment, safety and senior (elderly) needs of families in North Kenwood, Oakland and Bronzeville. As a steadfast proponent of racial, economic and social justice, I have supported progressive candidates and worked to build infrastructure for working families to elect accountable people with a commitment to a progressive agenda. I was endorsed by United Working Families as a candidate for State Representative in 2016, and I played a supportive role in Karen Lewis’ and Chuy Garcia’s bids for mayor. I have also worked to build community and labor coalitions to strengthen our fight for education justice both locally and nationally. Why do we need to build an independent political party? Elected officials in both parties have become beholden to their billionaire donors, and less and less accountable to the needs of low-income and working families. Critical issues such as school privatization, the abuse of TIF funds and attacks on affordable housing enjoy bi-partisan support. Entrenched political machines have prolonged the passage of critical legislation at the state level based on political gamesmanship and not the needs of the people. What is your vision for UWF and how do you see your role in achieving that vision? My vision for working families is that it strengthens the infrastructure needed to elect representative, progressive, accountable political leadership. While I feel that the establishment of a full independent party will take time, I fully support that vision. I also support Working Families as a vehicle that is rooted in community and labor coalitions based on mutual respect. I am interested in working to elect accountable political leadership at the municipal, state and federal level. What is your previous political and activist work? I have a history of working to build political power through assisting grassroots organizers with connecting issue based organizing with voter engagement/turnout and identifying progressive candidates to run for office. I ran for State Representative of 26th (twice) and created a intergenerational, racially representative, community labor coalition that won over 11,000 votes in the 2016 election. People United for Action, a grassroots Independent organization, was created by people that worked on my first campaign, and is still active. Organization affiliations (unions, community groups, etc): Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, People United for Action
Manuel Diaz: Bio: 27 year old organizer. Cicero raised. 1st generation everything Why do we need to build independent political power? We need to build an independent political party because a dominant two party system only protects the interests of the wealthy and well connected. We need to have a vehicle to bring the needs of the marginalized to the table. We need to build an organization that can protect promising leaders from compromising to the political establishment. We need to create an independent political party to bring power to our communities of color. What is your vision for UWF and how do you see your role in achieving that vision? Recruit and back good people to run and in strategic places and challenge the status quo. Maintain a close relationship with those candidates that become elected officials to ensure the presence of a progressive agenda. Build off the recent victories and create a real alternative in those communities to expand the work into surrounding areas. What political and activist work have you done, including work to build United Working Families? Workplace organizer to take on bad employers and drive pro worker legislation in Illinois. Political organizer on the southwest side of Chicago. Worked on the campaigns to elect Alma Anaya, Beatriz Frausto-Sandoval, Aaron Ortiz and Chuy Garcia in 2018 and delivered an exceptional blow to long time machine operatives on the southwest side. Elected as a UWF board delegate for 2018 and served as co-chair for the fundraising committee to establish alternative sources of revenue for the organization. Organizational affiliations (unions, community groups, etc) Member United Working Families Member National Writers Union
Roberto Clack: Bio: I am originally from the the diverse and working class city of Joliet, Illinois. I have dedicated my entire adult life to the cause of social justice organizing working as a housing, labor and antiwar organizer. Why do we need to build independent political power? Politics in our country and the city of Chicago are not serving working class people and are beholden to 1% interest throughout various levels of government. United Working Families is dedicated to building a grassroots, people powered organization that can fight for the interest of working class people in Chicago and beyond. I believe the only way we can counteract big moneyed interest is through building grassroots power and organization. UWF is a leading organization/party, in building this power in Chicagoland. What is your vision for UWF and how do you see your role in achieving that vision? We need to continue to grow and build on our success as an organization. As a 25th ward resident and party delegate, I was one of the first board members to advocate for the endorsement of Alma Anaya and Aaron Ortiz. As one of the leaders of the effort to get Alma Anaya elected Cook County Commissioners in the 25th ward, we got the best vote percentage and vote total in this important victory for progressives on the southwest side. We did this in-spite of being massively outspent and facing opponents who had history and where rooted in our communities. Being part of the leadership in this victory demonstrated both foresight and know how in conducting a winning campaign. As an incumbent party delegate, I seek reelection to be able to continue this work and build upon our collective success. Securing electoral victories is important in building confidence in our individual & group membership to take on even larger challenges and in building legitimacy with the broader public. Beyond that, we must build out local organizations as well as our umbrella organization, UWF. We will only continue to win if we broaden our organizational network to include more organizations as well as activating and signing up dues paying individual members. Individual members were unsung contributors to victories like Alma Anaya and Aaron Ortiz and I believe by broadening this network, under a bold progressive politics, we will win real change in the lives of working class people throughout Chicagoland. What political and activist work have you done, including work to build United Working Families? As mentioned before, I have a diverse set experiences organizing for social justice. Working in the peace movement, I worked with veterans who had experienced wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we actively organized to oppose these wars and educate the public on why we should challenge militarism as our government's main priority. While pensions get cut, schools closed and safety nets slashed, the prioritization of military spending and war goes unchallenged, even by some progressives. As part of my work with the veterans movement in Chicago, we organized the NATO medal ceremony return, a campaign to fight VA privatization as well as engaged in organizing with local labor and community groups. Some of this work included international solidarity, such as organizing in support of the Iraqi Oil Workers Union, etc. As an economic rights organizer I have worked in the housing movement organizing tenants to hold accountable their landlords for better and safer living conditions as well as organized in support of policy campaigns, such as the Keep Chicago Renting ordinance. I have almost 5 years experience as a labor organizer, organizing low wage workers to fight for better working conditions and dignity in the workplace. As a UWF Party Delegate, I was a part of leading field operations in the 25th wards for Alma Anaya for 7th District Cook County Commissioner and was the only volunteer to bring a broom to the celebration party after we accomplished the southwest side sweep :) Organizational affiliations (unions, community groups, etc) UWF Party Delegate, Unite 25, DSA
FIRST TIME CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRES:
Desmon Yancy Bio: For most of the last decade, I have worked as a labor and community organizer. I began my career organizing home health care workers on the South and West sides of Chicago with SEIU Healthcare Illinois/Indiana. In 2010, I launched a leadership development program designed to train union members to organize, not just in their workplace, but in their communities. The result of this program has produced nearly 1,000 organizers trained to fight for dignity and respect in the workplace and in their neighborhoods. After leaving SEIU in 2013, I began working with various community organizations on a number of projects. My most rewarding project was managing a voter registration program that registered 50,000 voters across the city. In 2015, I became one of the first staff hired for United Working Families. As the Deputy Political Director, I coordinated 11 challenger races for Chicago City Council and was instrumental in guiding Alderman Toni Foulkes to her second consecutive re-election campaign. Most recently, I have been working with a coalition of community organizations that are fighting for police accountability. Why do we need to build independent political power? We need an independent political party, because the Democratic Party is not responsive to the needs of its voters, particularly Black voters. There needs to be an alternative to the two-party system, both nationally and locally. What is your vision for UWF and how do you see your role in achieving that vision? My vision is that UWF becomes that alternative that I wrote about earlier. Residents on the south and west sides are hungry for an alternative. UWF is on the right path towards providing more than the status quo and is uniquely positioned to organize these communities, by their willingness to talk to city residents and involve them in the decisions that affect them, while providing political education so they understand the choices and the consequences. What political and activist work have you done, including work to build United Working Families? I have previously served as a UWF board member and as the co-chair of the Political Committee, I was instrumental in offering guidance on our 2017 & 2019 electoral strategy. As one of the few board members that staffed our inaugural campaign season, I often remind the board about our successes and challenges, as a way to provide a roadmap towards our success. - 2015 - UWF Deputy Political Director - 2016 - 2018 UWF Board Member; UWF Political Committee Co-Chair - 2016 - 2018 Director of Racial Justice (Organizing Director) Organizational affiliations (unions, community groups, etc) Member - Action Now; Member - Workers Center for Racial Justice, Board Vice-Chair - River Oaks Community Education and Development Corp.
I am an active member of the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and specifically I am the co-chair of the Electoral Working Group.
Campaign Workers Guild (union member), NARAL Pro - Choice America (Fellow), Northside Democracy for America (Steering Committee), Mom's Demand Action - LaGrange, Indivisible - Western Springs, Will County Progressives.
Todd St Hill