CHICAGO - The Nov. 2nd general elections are right around the corner and voters here in the city's southwest side, mostly Latino, Little Village neighborhood are mobilizing for a big Democratic win.
More than 100 Little Village residents at the Independent Political Organization of the 22nd Ward/Southwest side membership meeting Sept. 21 heard guest speakers Ald. Toni Preckwinkle - the Democratic nominee for Cook County Board president -- and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
Quinn faces the GOP's state Sen. Bill Brady in the tough gubernatorial race.
"We're in the fight of our lives," Quinn told the community, highlighting another tough race: U.S. Senate seat.
Quinn urged voters to get involved and help ensure that Democrat Alexi Giannoulias gets elected and defeats the Republican candidate and the GOP's right-wing agenda in Congress and the state.
Illinois faces two crises: economic and political. Illinois has a huge budget deficit and Democrats are on the defensive since the impeachment of former-Governor Rod Blagojevich for corruption charges.
Quinn, who was lieutenant governor and took over after the impeachment, favors raising revenue through progressive tax measures and job creation rather than severe budget cuts that would fall hard on the most vulnerable.
It's important to fight for more revenue for the state's schools and community colleges, Quinn said.
"We have to make sure that we invest in the state's entire population and that youth have equal opportunities to attend college," he said.
"I believe in investing in schools and bilingual education and Bill Brady wants to slash them. I'm running against someone that wants to slash the minimum wage, who happens to be a millionaire and drives a Porsche."
Quinn drew a stark picture if Illinois puts a right-wing Republican in the governor's mansion in Springfield - from jobs to neighborhood safety to immigration and his support for the DREAM Act.
Quinn ended his remarks saying, "I want to win this election based on doing something big for Illinoisans and a major battle lies ahead but we have to fight for our communities because this is bigger than just you and me."
When Ald. Preckwinkle addressed the crowd she talked about the Nov. 2 election statewide and in Cook County.
"This is the kind of election where we could really make a difference, especially now when there is a lot of voter apathy," she said. "We need to touch people because Democracy is the best and most fragile element on this planet."
Preckwinkle said she plans to make health care a priority and aims to preserve Cook County's community clinics. She notes the county's workforce needs to reflect the diversity of its communities and that her administration would be open, transparent and accountable.
Preckwinkle also said the county's juvenile justice system needs serious changes. "We need to keep kids out of that system to dramatically reduce that population," she said.
Longtime progressive and independent 22nd Ward Alderman Ricardo Munoz (and IPO president) moderated the meeting at La Villita Community Church.
The IPO was founded in 1983 to represent the needs and interests of working people and has since been a citywide leader in the struggle for multiracial unity, workers' rights, equal representation and political independence.
Both Preckwinkle and Quinn saluted Alderman Munoz and IPO members calling the organization "legendary" for "fighting the good fight" over the years.