CTU member Isaac Krantz-Perlman with a group of canvassers during the Chicago municipal election. Editor’s Note: In the last several weeks, several offensive, hurtful and unacceptable tweets from Mueze have been shared. Mueze has apologized for the tweets and the damage they caused. We believe that he is sincere. Since taking on this endeavor of running for office, Mueze has worked hand-in-hand with constituents and community leaders from all faiths and backgrounds. We are confident that in this, as with all his actions, Mueze is committed to growing through accountability to the entire community.

CTU member Isaac Krantz-Perlman lives in the 50th Ward, where CTU member Mueze Bawany is running for alderman. Krantz-Perlman is one of hundreds of rank-and-file members out in the field, knocking on doors, supporting Bawany, our mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson and other education champions seeking to transform city hall this year.  He sent in this report from the field. 

Community building: it’s what’s at the center of the Mueze for 50 aldermanic campaign, and our work to help elect Brandon Johnson for mayor. We’re a campaign of teachers, union activists, healthcare workers, refugee youth mentors, therapists, and a host of other neighbors who have come together to fight for a better community and a better city.

I’ve volunteered on a lot of campaigns in my life, but this one is the most special. I used to get a lot of anxiety knocking doors—I only do it because my phone anxiety is even worse—but this is the first time I’ve actually enjoyed the activity. Maybe it’s because I’m talking to neighbors I never would have met before, or because many of the neighbors are people I already know, or find I’m already connected to them while in the midst of our surprisingly deep conversations.

A different path

As school workers, we all know that one of the biggest issues our schools faced post-quarantine was the trauma students experienced and its impact on their social skills. Like the rest of the city, there has been a spike in violence in our typically quiet neighborhood. In the past year,  three murders occurred within just a couple blocks from me, including that of CPS student Anthony Mendoza.

Anthony’s murder happened in Warren Park, the same park—and at the same time—that another teenager whom I love dearly was working his first job as a camp counselor. When I speak with my neighbors, I often ask if Anthony’s path would have been different if he had been able to access summer programming for teenagers or if we had a youth center in the now empty High Ridge Y or the old Northtown Library building.

These are proposals that were opposed by our current alderwoman, Debra Silverstein. She also voted to close half the city’s mental health clinics and skipped out on a vote on the Bring Chicago Home ordinance, which could be used to provide permanent housing to my neighbors living in tents in Warren Park.

At the same time, she paints herself as a “law and order candidate,” accusing Mueze of being soft on crime and wanting to defund the police. In response, we’ve been calling ourselves the fund public safety campaign. When we talk to neighbors about common sense, evidence-based solutions to the rise in violence, even the most pro-police voters agree: we can’t fix anything if we’re not funding youth and mental health services.

Beyond the election

It’s through these conversations that our campaign has grown from a core group of mostly teachers and union activists, to a large network of neighbors and volunteers finding common ground in trying to build grassroots democracy in the 50th ward and across the city. Through this network, we’ve been able to form a youth council of student volunteers, collect winter gear for recently arrived migrants, organize a shoveling brigade to dig out neighbors with mobility needs, start a neighborhood network of LSC members, and convene candidate meet-and-greets with a diverse range of communities: Rohingya refugees, Jewish congregations, Muslim congregations, my neighbors’ Korean church, taxi drivers and ride share workers, and more.

Everyone at our meetings speaks to their love of our diverse neighborhood, but also their frustration with the divisions between these communities. I asked Mueze Bawany to run for alderman because he is someone who works tirelessly to build community wherever he goes. I firmly believe that with Mueze in the city council and Brandon Johnson as mayor we will finally have city leadership that fights for a neighborhood and a city where everyone feels safe, loved, and connected.

Volunteering for Mueze and Brandon (and Lori Torres and other CTU endorsed candidates!) has been far more rewarding than I could ever have imagined, but bringing this home and getting them to City Hall is going to take volunteers. Get a group of your colleagues together and sign up here to volunteer and help get our union siblings elected!. 

Isaac Krantz-Perlman is a special education teacher at Gale Community Academy.

Editor’s Note: In the last several weeks, several offensive, hurtful and unacceptable tweets from Mueze have been shared. Mueze has apologized for the tweets and the damage they caused. We believe that he is sincere. Since taking on this endeavor of running for office, Mueze has worked hand-in-hand with constituents and community leaders from all faiths and backgrounds. We are confident that in this, as with all his actions, Mueze is committed to growing through accountability to the entire community.