Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Miguel del Valle is the Liberal's Liberal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Looking for the most liberal candidate in the mayor’s election? Look no farther than Miguel del Valle.

    The modest City Clerk has a revolutionary’s soul. Last week, he raised his voice in favor of the Sweet Home Chicago ordinance, which would require the city to set aside 20 percent of TIF funds for affordable housing. Mayor Daley doesn’t like that grab at his TIF money one bit. When Ald. Ricardo Munoz and two other aldermen proposed a package of referenda, including renegotiating the parking deal, taxing LaSalle Street, and hiring more cops, del Valle voted aye -- even though he’s not an alderman.

    This morning, del Valle announced four endorsements that will burnish his left-of-center credentials: he appeared at Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant, 1235 W. Grand Ave., with Sen. Iris Martinez, Rep. Cynthia Soto, Dr. Quentin Young, and Katy Hogan.

    Martinez and Soto are no surprise: they’re progressive Latino legislators, as del Valle was in the state senate. But Young and Hogan will help del Valle with left-wing voters who get their political news from WBEZ and the Reader, and voted against Daley in all six of his elections.

    Young, the former chairman of medicine of Cook County Hospital, is a healthcare activist who heads Physicians For a National Health Program, a Chicago-based non-profit that lobbies for a single-payer health care system. A Hyde Park acquaintance of Barack Obama’s, Young sat on the committee Obama created to draft a health care plan that would cover all Illinoisans. Young’s Movement roots go deep: he provided medical care to civil rights demonstrators in the South, and protestors at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He also served as a physician to Martin Luther King Jr., Harold Washington and Studs Terkel.
     
     Hogan is co-founder of the Heartland Café, the Rogers Park restaurant that has been a gathering place for progressives since 1976. The other co-founder, Michael James, is president of the 49-th Ward Democratic Party, and host of “Live From the Heartland,” a radio program that has featured radical author Max Elbaum and former Weatherman Mark Rudd. Looking for a copy of In These Times? It’s on the Heartland’s newsstand. Harold Washington campaigned there during his run for mayor, alongside Lakefront liberal alderman David Orr. And in 2004, Barack Obama made a speech at the Heartland that campaign strategist David Axelrod called a turning point in the campaign: it helped solidify the support of upscale whites that Obama was trying to add to his South Side black base.

    “When I felt the enthusiasm in that room,” Axelrod later told 49th Ward Committeeman David Fagus, “that was when I felt the tide had turned.”

    Can del Valle build a similar coalition, of Latinos and white liberals? Today’s endorsements suggest he’s trying.