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Home Sections Politics Fil-Am Group AFIRE Leads "GOTV" in Chicago Mayoral Elections
Fil-Am Group AFIRE Leads "GOTV" in Chicago Mayoral Elections PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Politics
Thursday, 24 February 2011 18:05

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Journal Group Link International)

 

Other Filipino- and Asian-American Groups of Voter Succeed in Helping Elect the First Asian-American Alderman and New City Mayor

  

C HICAGO (jGLi) -- Juanita Salvador-Burris lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood of President Barack Obama in the south side of Chicago but on election day last Tuesday (Feb. 22), she mobilized young Filipino-American students to knock door-to-door in the northside of Chicago's Albany Park.

 

"Napakahirap pala mag-kombinse sa mga kababayan natin na lumabas sa bahay nila at bumoto." (I realized it is very tough for us to convince our countrymates to get out of their houses and vote.) Ms. Salvador Burris grumbled.

 

Ms. Salvador Burris' group, also brought with them hangers, showing the number of the ward, where residents are supposed to be voting.

Besides, she said, they also placed phone calls. But some residents were screening their caller ID's and they did not answer their calls if they did not recognize their numbers.

 

“At first, the young group of student volunteers were reluctant to make the phone calls,” Salvador-Burris’ fellow officer, Jerry Clarito of Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) said, “But when they were able to make contact, they were inspired to go on.”

 

"We tried to convince the infrequent voters to vote, roused those sleeping, including the senior citizens and those young 22, 23, 24 years olds who registered when they were 18 years old but haven't voted yet to vote." Salvador Burris said.

 

She quoted 33rd Alderman (Council Member) Richard Mell as saying that there has been only a 33 percent turnout of voters since the 80's that he has been running unopposed in his ward.

 

Less-than 42% Turnout

 

In last Tuesday’s election, the Board of Election Commissioners for Chicago reported that there were 1,406,037 registered voters. But there were only 589,931 who voted or a turnout of 41.96 percent.

 

Out of the 2,570 precincts, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel got 323,546 votes or 55.25 percent with Gery J. Chico getting 140,362 votes or 23.97 percent. This gives Emanuel a first-ballot win, avoiding a run-off in April had he got 50 percent or less votes.

 

It was the city's first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.

 

The 51-year-old married father of three will be the city’s first Jewish mayor when he takes his oath of office on May 16.

 

The non-partisan AFIRE joined the call of the Asian-American Institute to campaign for Get-Out-To-Vote (GOTV) that was launched for the first time two weeks ago when ten Asian-American organizations came together for the first time in history to hold the Mayoral Candidates' Forum through PAVE (Pan-Asian Voter Empowerment). Four leading mayoral candidates, except the front-runner, now Mayor-elect Emanuel, answered the Asian-American concerns before a thousand Asian-American voters in a somewhat town hall meeting.

 

Albany Park is home to 21,000 Filipino Americans, comprising three wards -- Wards 33, 39 and 40, according to the Census Bureau.

 

Among the volunteers who joined them in the GOTV were Victoria Pudusserry, Jazmin Salinas and Mari Basilio, students of Mather High School, who were doing community service, and Lita Lopez, an Our Lady of Mercy parishioner, all in Albany Park.

 

"If we can only identify these 21,000 Filipino Americans and get them involved in some kind of a voters league, we can build an enlightened and civically engaged group and participate as Asian American voters base in Chicago,” Salvador Burris explained.

 

They knocked on the doors to persuade voters to get out and vote on the doors of 122 out of the 227 Filipino Americans in nine voting precincts in 33rd Ward; 128 out of 270 Filipino American voters in nine voting precincts in 39th Ward; and 36 voters out of 225 Filipino American voters in 40th Ward. They were able to talk 286 out of the 772 Filipino American voters into getting out and voting.

 

“Imagine if there were three dozens of us involved in GOTV, we will certainly be able to ask a thousand to get out and vote,” Salvador Burris said.

 

First Asian-American Alderman

 

B oasting AFIRE and PAVE's GOTV campaign was the realization of one of its stated goals -- to elect the first Asian-American Alderman -- when a long shot candidate Ameya Pawar, an Indian American, was elected as the first Asian American alderman in the 47th Ward. The ward forms part of the "North Chinatown" in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood.

 

Meanwhile, in precinct No. 3 by the Our Lady of Mercy Church at 4432 St. North Troy, Imelda Fagaragan and Liz Biting are both Filipino Americans who do not need to be persuaded to go out and vote. They have been a voter and an election judge in the same voting precinct for so many years. Last Tuesday, the precinct was supervised by Ms. Corrine Fayne.

 

Miss Fagaragan, a native of Ilocos Norte and a nursing home employee, said she voted for Emanuel because he was able to shake his hand and had managed to ask him questions and elicited answers. But she said, "May the best candidate win."

 

For her part, Ms. Biting said as an election judge, she gives ballot to the voter and she makes sure if the voter is qualified to vote or not.

 

Meanwhile, the Asian-American Institute (AAI), member of the Asian-American Center for Advancing Justice, and the Pan-Asian Voter Empowerment campaign congratulated the first Asian American elected to Chicago's city council.

 

"It's very exciting to finally have an Asian American in city council," said Tuyet Le, AAI's executive director. "We congratulate Mr. Pawar, and look forward to working with him to address the tough issues that our community and this city face." # # #

  

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 

 

 



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Last Updated on Sunday, 27 February 2011 11:58
 

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