Red wave turns into a purple trickle
Last week’s midterm elections led to a number of key victories for Democrats in the state and beyond, including several candidates the Weekly covered this year. Jonathan Jackson will be taking over from retiring Rep. Bobby Rush in the 1st District after beating more than a dozen other candidates in the primary. Delia Ramirez, who the Weekly wrote about ahead of the primary, will be the representative for the new majority-Latinx Illinois 3rd District.
Alexi Giannoulias, who detailed his plans to the Weekly in June, will take Jesse White’s place as Secretary of State. In Cook County, Fritz Kaegi easily secured re-election as Assessor despite a campaign by real estate interests to unseat him, and Amendment 1, otherwise known as the Workers Rights Amendment, will be added to the state constitution, enshrining the rights of workers to collectively bargain and preventing the passage of right-to-work laws in the future. Other notable wins include Tammy Duckworth’s re-election as Senator and J.B. Pritzker as Governor. Republicans gained at least one seat in the State Senate, but lost at least four seats in the State House.
At the national level, Democrats have retained control of the Senate with key victories in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona, and a Senate run-off in Georgia will determine the margin of control. Republicans have made gains in the House, however, and as of publication look to be within reach of a majority there. The midterm elections seemed to surprise some pundits who were predicting a “red wave” but problems with the accuracy of polling underestimated that people would turn out to vote blue, with many pointing to abortion as a key factor in that support.
Mayoral hopefuls line up
As soon as Democrat wins in Congress became evident, Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, a Lightfoot ally up until Election Day, announced his candidacy for mayor of Chicago. He previously forced former Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff in 2015. Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson announced his run weeks earlier than Chuy with the endorsement of the Chicago Teachers Union, followed by SEIU, and said he wouldn’t back down. Both candidates have a history of strong progressive support and their combined candidacy has the potential to divide their base geographically or along racial lines. Despite the recent withdrawal of North Side candidate Ald. Tom Tunney from the race, there are fifteen candidates currently in the ring, including incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot. They include alderpersons Sophia King, Ray Lopez, and Roderick Sawyer, activist Ja’Mal Green, and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas. Municipal elections are in February 2023.
Black Harvest Film Festival
On November 4, the Gene Siskel Film Center, located at 164 N. State, kicked off the 28th Black Harvest Film Festival, an annual celebration of Black film and the African diaspora. Festival-goers can enjoy feature films and short film collections, special events, and conversations with actors and directors.
In-person viewings and events are scheduled through November 21, followed by virtual showings through November 27. Mars One, a 2022 film in Portuguese with English subtitles, follows a lower-middle-class family in Brazil, amidst the election of the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, as they struggle to keep their family together while grappling with identity, ambitions, and economic pressures. Redbird is about a rodeo rider in Oklahoma with dreams of doing his passion full time. And the Sisters in Scene short films explore topics like Black femininity, isolation, and coming-of-age. If you miss seeing any of the films in person, tickets and passes can also be redeemed for virtual screenings Nov. 21-27. After hosting the first ever, fully virtual festival in 2020, the film center created a hybrid experience in 2021 and 2022.
This year’s celebration is in honor of the late Sergio Mims, a film journalist, historian, and co-founder of the festival. Mims, who passed away this October was a Hyde Park resident and attended Kenwood Academy as well as University of Illinois Chicago. For more information, go to siskelfilmcenter.org/blackharvest