On Oct. 4, activists and community members gathered across the street from the 16th District Police Station in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood to officially launch the campaign of Ana Santoyo for 45th Ward alderperson. A longtime activist and organizer herself, the slogan for Santoyo’s campaign is “A Better Ward is Possible.”
Santoyo is a union worker, a mother and a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. As a daughter of working-class immigrants, she saw firsthand how her father, like other workers, was treated as a tool and not as a human. Her experiences made her turn to socialism and inspired her to run for alderperson, explicitly as a socialist.
“Socialism is ending homelessness in the 45th Ward and everywhere by making housing a right for all. Socialism is ending food insecurity, by taking the profit motive out of producing food and producing for everyone’s needs. Socialism is putting the environment first, and profits last,” Santoyo told Liberation News.
At the campaign launch event, Kamran Siddiqi, a volunteer with the Ana Santoyo campaign, kicked off the event. He shared how this is a “fighting campaign, it is a campaign of struggle, it is a campaign about realizing what is possible when we unite and come together and solve our collective problems.”
A resounding theme in Santoyo’s campaign was the need to end police terror. Santoyo has been leading the Justice For Anthony Alvarez campaign after Alvarez, a 22-year-old worker and father, was shot and killed by Chicago Police Officer Evan Solano while running away in 2021.
“Justice for Anthony Alvarez is a major component of this campaign. For over a year, I’ve been working closely with the family to organize rallies, marches, press conferences and petitions, calling our elected officials in order to give this amazing, strong family peace and answers about what happened to their loved one. At every step, I’ve seen just how callous this system is. That Evan Solano was only served with a 20-day suspension is a slap in the face after everything they’ve gone through,” Santoyo said.
That is why, as Siddiqi explained, the campaign had chosen to hold the launch outside the 16th District of CPD: “Here, at this 16th District police station, is where Evan Solano, the cop who murdered Anthony Alvarez in March of 2021, currently works. Ana has helped lead many protests at this very same site … as we’ve said, it is with the same fighting spirit that we began this struggle.”
Police terror was not the sole focus of the campaign launch. Santoyo emphasized that Alvarez’s killing “didn’t occur in a vacuum. It happened because this city has prioritized giving more and more money to [CPD], despite their clear abuses of power, while at the same time spending less and less on schools, on mental health, on decent paying jobs.”
Members from several organizations including Parents 4 Teachers, Pueblo Unido Albany Park, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Justice for Anthony Alvarez voiced similar concerns about the city’s disinvestments in the community. Several of the organizations also endorsed Santoyo for alderperson.
Elijah Staton attended the campaign launch. When asked why he had decided to attend, he said, “It’s like I’ve lived in this ward my whole life. Grew up and went to school here. And it can be difficult to trust my neighbors sometimes. I see a lot of thin blue line flags. But the rally on Tuesday made me feel hopeful.”
The Chicago aldermanic election will take place on Feb. 28, 2023. The election is nonpartisan and if no candidate receives 50% of the vote, there will be a run-off on April 4. Santoyo is running against incumbent alderman Jim Gardiner, and challengers Susanna Ernst, Megan Mathias and Marija Tomic.
Santoyo has already reached the minimum amount of signatures required to get on the ballot. Volunteers will continue to collect signatures and spread the word about Santoyo.
Santoyo is running on a ten-point program:
- Keep our communities safe, end police terror
- Housing is a human right
- Abortion is health care, health care for all
- Safety in schools, fund public education
- Full rights for all immigrants
- Jobs for all, support unions
- Free and accessible CTA [Chicago Transit Authority]
- Environmental justice, remove all lead pipes
- Fight for LGBTQ liberation
- No Fascism in the 45th Ward!
Feature photo: Supporters gather to launch Ana Santoyo’s campaign for alderperson of Chicago’s 45th Ward. Liberation photo