Will Guzzardi, who came within 125 votes of unseating state Rep. Toni Berrios in 2012, is coming back for a rematch.
“Two years ago, we built a movement in this community to fight for quality public schools, a strong economy and independent, accountable leadership,” Guzzardi said today in a statement announcing his candidacy. “The movement has only grown stronger since that time. Our neighbors and community leaders are ready to make real change happen in 2014.”
Guzzardi’s almost-successful campaign was an embarrassment to the Cook County Democratic Party, since Berrios is the daughter of party chairman and county assessor Joe Berrios. The 39th District, which covers the Northwest Side neighborhoods of Avondale, Belmont-Cragin, Portage Park, Logan Square, is the home turf of Joe Berrios, who is also 35th Ward committeeman. Guzzardi was a nobody nobody sent, a 24-year-old Brown University graduate who had recently moved to the city, and worked as an editor at Huffington Post. No one has ever dislodged a member of the Berrios family from a public payroll, but Guzzardi almost did it.
Guzzardi framed his last campaign as a fight between a grass-roots organizer and a Machine politician, comparing it to the aldermanic campaigns won by outsiders Ameya Pawar and John Arena.
“People have seen what machine politics does for our community,” he told Ward Room in 2012. “It just doesn’t fight for us, on so many of the critical votes that come up, there’s a choice that our legislators make between the special interests and the interest of the families in our community. We need legislators who are willing and able to choose our families.”
Berrios’s camp, however, framed it as a race between a progressive Latina and a white Logan Square gentrifier, calling Guzzardi’s supporters “rich white buddies from out of town.”
“This coming election is about more than just me and Rep. Berrios,” Guzzardi said in his statement. “It’s about a city-wide movement whose time has come, a movement of hard-working tax-paying people who are fed up with the entrenched special interests and the corrupt Machine politics that are dragging down our state. Our schools are in crisis, our budget is in shambles, and people across this city are clamoring for a new kind of leadership to address these serious concerns and get rid of the same old pay-to-play politics that has simply failed to do so. In this election, I intend to prove that no legislator is invulnerable — that no Machine is powerful enough to protect a lawmaker who ignores the needs of their constituents.”