CTU member and other at a canvass for mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson and aldermanic candidate Lori Torres Whitt.

CTU members Daniel Burke and Paula Barajas are two of hundreds of rank-and-file members out in the field, knocking on doors, supporting our mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson, 36th Ward aldermanic candidate Lori Torres Whitt and other education champions seeking to transform city hall this year. They sent this report from the field. 

As fellow CTU members, it’s been an honor to support two of our peers in their race to transform City Hall, mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson and aldermanic candidate Lori Torres Whitt, running to represent the new eight-mile-long 36th Ward. In the past, many of us have supported aldermanic candidates who champion education and fairness for the working people of Chicago. However, to help our own members who are community activists, neighborhood school teachers, and CPS parents is a joy. 

Door knocking and walking the 36th Ward has been a wonderful experience. The neighborhood is a microcosm of Chicago, with such a diverse group of residents. The ward overlaps several different neighborhoods with seemingly different working people, but they all want the same things: an alderperson who can provide reliable city services, quality schools, and a good working relationship with the Chicago Police Department to bring safety and security to their community. 

As we knocked on doors to collect signatures and discuss our platform with community members, we were met with smiles, handshakes and invitations into homes as residents wanted to hear more. Families in the ward respect the CTU and know that, when we speak, we are speaking the truth.

Lori meets us before each canvas and discusses the importance of being a “good listener” so we can bring back the concerns of her future constituents. It might seem a little scary to go out knocking on strangers’ doors, but listening, reflecting, and discussing are skills we have developed as teachers. 

When we knocked on doors, many of the families wanted to know if Lori would have a reliable plan to provide city services, since they work hard every day and want their alderperson to be more transparent and easily accessible. Our answer is a resounding “yes!” Lori has served her community and will continue to do so as alderperson. 

During our canvassing, we also helped many families connect with basic city services, since they had received no help from current alderman Gil Villegas, Lori’s top contender. Families expressed frustration at the lack of response from his office and his failure to provide guidance about city services. So, we did what educators and school staff do best — we helped, guiding them toward advocating for city services. Their smiles, free water bottles and, in some cases, offers of dinner, warmed our hearts. 

We encourage every CTU member to roll up their sleeves and put on their walking shoes because it is time for our members to take political office and serve the hard-working families of our city. Meeting new people on canvassing routes is fun and, as teachers, we often run into old friends and get them on board. Plus, walking the turf, knowing that we are taking control to shape our future, helps relieve stress.

Just imagine what we could do with a teacher as mayor and teachers in the city council. Let’s help get our sister Lori Torres Whitt and brother Brandon Johnson to City Hall so they can make our dream of the city Chicago families deserve into a reality. 

Let’s do this! Get a group of your colleagues together and sign up here to volunteer and support Lori and Brandon’s campaign. 

Daniel Burke teaches at Bass Elementary and Paula Barajas teaches at Ruiz Elementary.