Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-01-22
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

ELECTIONS 2019, 44TH WARD. Austin Baidas on challenging Tunney for council seat
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-02-13

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Lake View Austin Baidas is attempting to do something few have tried over the past 15 years: unseat Tom Tunney as 44th Ward alderman.

Baidas—who, like Tunney is openly gay—has been known for his philanthropic work ( sitting on the boards of Center on Halsted and Howard Brown Health ) as well as having positions within the administrations of former Gov. Pat Quinn and President Barack Obama.

He recently talked with Windy City Times about qualifications, term limits and the Ricketts family—with whom people have tried establishing a connection.

Windy City Times: How visible do you feel your campaign is? I feel that I see a lot more signs for the incumbent in this neighborhood.

Austin Baidas: We have opened a campaign office at 3127 N. Broadway, so we have street visibility there. We have a strong presence on social media. Also, we're out canvassing the neighborhood, talking to people—getting up at 7 a.m. talking the residents, and they're absolutely wonderful. People want to have conversations about the government.

WCT: This ward is known as one of the most progressive in the city. What else do you feel can be done to help the LGBT community here?

AB: We need an alderman who represents those progressive values. I've been running on family and medical leave, a $15 minimum wage and ending TIF districts so we're not diverting funds away from the services that people care about.

WCT: You actually supported the incumbent—for a while, at least; until 2015, you donated to Citizens for Tunney. What do you feel he's doing wrong now?

AB: When he was appointed alderman in 2002, it was a big step forward for the gay community. We had representation on city council; I respect that, and that's an important piece of our history.

Now it's time to move forward, and this is our opportunity with a new mayor. We can change things; we can fight corruption and insider deals, and we can actually have a government that represents the city we want.

WCT: Do you favor term limits for alderpersons?

AB: Yes—and I think we should change the name from "aldermen" to "alderpersons," by the way. [Smiles] I think they should be limited to two terms in office, and we should have fresh ideas in city council. There are a lot of smart people in the city; we should have a democracy here. We shouldn't have career politicians.

WCT: Should city council be reduced from 50 alderpersons?

AB: So, I think the important thing is that neighbors have an alderman who's representative of them. I think that, for democracy to work, someone has to be able to have conversations with people in the neighborhood. So it's important for us in Lake View to have a voice in city council.

Aldermen currently represent about 55,000 people each. Can they represent, say, 80,000 people? That's very possible—but representing, say, 500,000 people could prevent neighbors' individual voices from being heard at city council.

WCT: So the number could be reduced?

AB: Chicago has a large city government. The districts should be a size that residents can still have relationships with their aldermen. I'm fine with 50, but I'm also fine with discussions about reducing the size of city council.

WCT: There have been a lot of discussions about the Ricketts family—that they're backing you. Are they backing you or will they back you?

AB: I have not been endorsed by the Ricketts. I have not accepted any money from the Ricketts, nor will accept any money from the Ricketts. More importantly, I have no business interests with the Ricketts. I am running for alderman solely to be the representative of the residents of Lake View. I've also taken a pledge not to accept corporate donations or donations from PACs—or donations from right-wing billionaires. [Editor's note: A list of Baidas' donors can be found at https://illinoissunshine.org/committees/34833/.]

WCT: Please talk a little about what you've done for the LGBT community.

AB: [Laughs] I'll end up talking a lot about what I've done.

I started my career in the business community. During the great recession in 2008, I saw a number of my friends get hit hard, and that drove me to work in government. I went to work for Barack Obama at the Department of Transportation, and I also worked a couple different jobs with the State of Illinois, including being associate budget director.

When I first got involved in government, it was to do practical things—find deficiencies, save money, make the government run better—but I was also able to see the power of the government to change lives. In 2013, I was the highest-ranking openly gay member of the governor's office, and I got to work with an incredible team of activists to help pass marriage equality. Seven months after we passed marriage equality, my uncles—who just celebrated their 35th anniversary together—came to Chicago to get married. It was incredibly powerful to see family members who called my uncle's partner his "roommate" come together to support, recognize and celebrate their relationship.

Directly in the community, I've participated in AIDS Rides, and I spent eight years on the board of directors at Center on Halsted—and one accomplishment was building the LGBT senior apartments, thanks to a grant from the State of Illinois that we were able to secure.

I also have served on the board of directors of Howard Brown Health, and that's an amazing organization that provides healthcare to over 30,000 residents. The key thing with Howard Brown Health is that it's culturally competent healthcare. LGBT people can feel comfortable talking with their doctors about issues important to them.

One of my current frustrations with the alderman is that he voted for the $5.6-million tax break for Presence Health [Illinois' largest Catholic health system], which follows strict religious doctrine. So a rape victim taken to their emergency room will not be given emergency contraception, and they don't offer abortion care, stem-cell research or in vitro fertilization. Howard Brown is fighting every day to make sure there's LGBT-competent healthcare in Chicago, and when you're voting to give a tax break to an organization that doesn't follow our values, I think that's wrong.

WCT: What do you feel are your greatest strength in this race and your biggest weakness?

AB: So I think this is a chance for Chicago to get the government we want, with a new mayor coming in and new city council members—to get a government that represents our community. It's time for Chicagoans to say "enough is enough." Our greatest strength is that we can change the city.

My biggest weakness is that this is my first time running for political office. I'm not a career politician or a polished speaker—I'm Austin. What you see is what you get.

Visit www.austinbaidas.com .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

WORLD Glenn Greenwald, Swiss chocolatier, Chick-fil-A, South Korean trans soldier 2020-01-27 - A coalition of approximately 40 human-rights and free-speech NGOs signed an open letter—organized by Freedom of the Press Foundation and Reporters Without Borders—addressed ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Political candidates, Larry Kramer, Virginia laws, drag-queen news 2020-01-27 - LGBTQ Victory Fund—the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office—endorsed Ross LaJeunesse for the U.S. Senate, a press release ...


Gay News

Obama portraits in Chicago in 2021 2020-01-26 - The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery has announced a five-city tour next year of the portraits of President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama ...


Gay News

Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee signs anti-gay adoption bill 2020-01-25 - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a controversial bill that would let adoption agencies deny service to same-sex couples, among others, based on religious ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2020 Lightfoot backs trans candidate Quinn 2020-01-24 - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has endorsed transgender candidate Jill Rose Quinn for Cook County judge ( the K. Sheehan vacancy ). "I'm proud ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2020 Four Illinois candidates get latest Victory Fund endorsements 2020-01-22 - LGBTQ Victory Fund—the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office—endorsed 32 new openly LGBTQ candidates for 2020 races. Among ...


Gay News

GLSEN slams religious exemptions that Trump proposes 2020-01-22 - GLSEN—which works to create safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students—denounced religious exemptions to federally funded programs across nine federal agencies recently proposed ...


Gay News

Sara Feigenholtz sworn in as state senator at ceremony 2020-01-22 - Call her state senator instead of state rep. A packed house of dignitaries and other supporters gathered Jan. 21 at the Ann Sather ...


Gay News

Federal court ruling benefits same-sex couples 2020-01-22 - A federal appeals panel of Republican appointees ruled Jan. 17 that the state of Indiana must treat same-sex married couples the same as ...


Gay News

Me Too movement founder at NU Jan. 27 2020-01-22 - Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke will keynote Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Week on Monday, Jan. 27. Burke will speak on the ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.