A rally was held on Feb. 27 for Harish I. Patel at Township, as the race for 40th District Illinois State Representative comes to a vote. The packed house included the challenger Harish I. Patel, 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, voters from the 40th district, 39th Ward Committeeman candidate Robert Murphy and volunteers for the Patel campaign.
The lively atmosphere also included performances by Bassel & the Supernaturals and poet Luis Tubens known as Logan Lu. Volunteers for the rally made a game of make your own false attack ads, that pokes fun at the recent attack mailers from supporters of incumbent Rep. Jamie Andrade Jr.
Many people expressed their feelings as to why Patel is the right candidate to bring a new wave of politics to Springfield and all of Illinois.
“I’m recent student that just graduated, and I’ve been looking to get involved in race with someone who is actually going to make a change in Springfield,” said Laura Reimers, a volunteer for Patel’s campaign. “When you got the budget with Bruce Rauner cutting all the social services, my friends don’t have financial aid this semester. On the other end you have a Democratic super majority that can’t pass the budget through. I want to get involved with someone who can make a difference and Harish is independent voice that will make that change.”
“I am supporting Harish because I believe its time for a change, its in the air,” said Abraham Mwaura. “People are ready to mobilized, to organize themselves in their communities from the grassroots up. … To me we’re up against a structure of corruption and oppression. More than just blaming it on one individual, our opponent, he is not the entire problem. He is part of the problem. Beginning to replace people like that can actually put pressure on people who are even in higher power from the legislator, the state, the governor, the speaker of the house.”
“For me, it’s part of a larger vision,” said Reema Ahmad, campaign manager for Patel. “We’re at this critical moment right now, what it means to be American and what it means to live in this country is called into question. It feels real for me as someone who is Muslim and Palestinian and Arab and Midwesterner and yes, American. What is our country going to look like 10, 20 years from now? And fact is, in 2043 we’re going to be a minority majority country. If we don’t start making sure that our government better represents the changing landscape of this country, then we’re going be in a lot of trouble.”
Waguespack, a popular independent voice on city council, spoke to the crowd about why he endorsed Patel for State Representative.
“When you look at the machine guys, it was almost impossible to break through that mold and say, ‘I want to change the system here in Illinois and Chicago.’ This is the kind of person who is going to change our system, who is gonna stand up to (Speaker of the House) Michael Madigan when he has to, is going to stand up for the people who got us to this point,” Waguespack said. “Where we have no point of return, we have got to keep going and say that the way things are going in Chicago [and] the way things are going in Illinois are no longer acceptable. Harish is the guy to do that.
“I endorsed him early on because I knew a little bit about him, I seen him around, I like his ethics, I like his work ethic, I like that he started his own business and I look back at his history and say this is the kind of person that makes up America. … I can tell you based on experience on the first time that I ran, when they start going negative, that means you knew you were making a dent and you were getting close and that you’re on the right path to victory. Chicago needs him, Illinois needs him, our country needs people like this who are willing to stand up to all the hatred and keep plugging away.”
As the night progressed, Patel spoke to the crowd of voters and volunteers to give his thoughts on why he is running and what it all means to him.
The United States, Illinois, Chicago has the capacity for someone like me who came here and didn’t speak any English at 14, grew up on the Northwest side with a mother who cleaned homes for a living and on food stamps and Medicaid and all the stuff you’re supposed to say are bad, things like public programs and family support. That kid has learned some English, has a small business, has a Masters in Urban Planning and Policy.
“I believe in this country and in this state. We’re at this moment of question about what it means to be a public official. The bigger purpose of this is, we have to create a new type of politics. The politics I want to push for is independent in the sense that I don’t want to depend on the system that existed for so long. All it does is fight and argue and blame each other for not actually getting anything done. I want to create independent politics that allows me to represent the constituents I’m supposed to.”
Photos: Hector Gonzalez, better known as Hekter.