The Indian-American candidate for Treasurer of Chicago, mustered enough votes in the municipal elections held Feb. 27, to be in the April 2 runoff.
Alderman Ameya Pawar, who represents the 47th District as a council member in Chicago, made a great showing yesterday, coming out neck-and-neck with Illinois State Representative Melissa Conyears-Ervin, two of three candidates in the running on Feb. 27.
Since neither candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, regulations require them to be in the runoff. According to the Chicago Sun Times, with 95.4 percent of 2,069 precincts reporting late Tuesday, Conyears-Ervin garnered 44.2 percent and Pawar 41.7 percent, with Peter Gariepy trailing at a little over 14 percent.
Pawar is the first and only Indian-American in the Chicago city council, serving since 2011, and if victorious April 2, he will become one of the highest from the community to hold city office in this country.
“We’re in the runoff! And today, we go even bigger. Circle April 2nd on your calendar and sign up today to volunteer. Without your support, we wouldn’t have made it this far. With your support, there’s no limit to what we can do,” Pawar tweeted.
He has campaigned on a progressive platform asserting, “It’s time to enact a bold progressive agenda to harness the financial power of 2.7 million Chicagoans,” on his election website pawarforchicago.com.
The leading newspaper Chicago Tribune endorsed him with the words “At a time when transparency and ethics policy stand tall in voters’ minds, Pawar has proved committed to both.”
The Chicago Sun times said, “He will take his progressive ideas to the treasurer’s office.”
“Newspaper endorsements don’t necessarily do much,” for a candidate, Ann Kalayil, founder of the South Asian American Policy & Research Institute in Chicago, told News India Times. “He’s got to raise money,” to use in the run-up to April 2. And in the upcoming five weeks, Kalayil said, “He has got to mobilize people who are not his typical base. It is tough.”
On his election website, Pawar recalls hard times for his immigrant family noting that his father immigrated to Chicago more than 40 years ago, and his fortunes were affected by “a turbulent time in American manufacturing where offshoring, automation, and the squeezing of workers meant he was trapped in an endless cycle of starting a new job and layoffs.”
“In just 40 years, stagnant wages, shrinking benefits, union busting, and constant uncertainty have chipped away at the American Dream of prosperity and stability driven by hard work,” Pawar contends. “Experiencing first-hand how income inequality impacted my family, my community, and the city inspired me to go into public service.”
He has promised to reach the city’s investments to boost communities and families, launching a people’s public bank to expand local businesses, finance affordable housing, fund new infrastructure, and refinance student loans “to help Chicagoans stay in the city while attracting new ones, reversing a decades long population decline.”
“He is a really good candidate,” said Kalayil. “Not only that he is a good elected official – authentic, and with a moral compass,” she added.
Pawar was also endorsed by the SEIU Local 1, union, which proclaimed in a tweet, ” The working families of Local 1 are proud to support @Ameya_Pawar_IL a progressive champion who has always had the back of all Chicagoans, whether they be white, Black or brown. Let’s change Chicago for the better, together #WeRise with Pawar!” Environmental groups like Sierra Club have also endorsed him.
After the results of the Feb. 27 elections were out, the Sun Times described Pawar as “a rising star in city politics.” But not many people pay attention to a City Treasurer, Kalayil said, “The coming weeks are going to be a challenge.”
Pawar realizes the dangers of low voting on April 2, and has stepped up his outreach. What may work in favor of voters coming to the polls April 2, is that the mayoral race is also up for grabs in a runoff to elect their first woman mayor – the candidates two African-American women in the running are Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.
“Thanks to your support and the efforts of our incredible volunteers, the people of Chicago have sent us into the runoff today. And tomorrow, we go big,” he said in a mailing asking for donations to “continue reaching out to Chicagoans in every neighborhood about our bold progressive agenda. We have the capability to create Chicago’s Green New Deal, democratize our investments, and so much more,” he urged.
“But at the same time, thousands of Chicagoans didn’t vote in this election, and many more may not even realize that a runoff is happening,” Pawar warned, adding, “We need to do everything in our power to reach out to new communities, new voters, and new potential supporters to convince them to stand with us in our bold campaign to invest in our future.”