Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

ELECTIONS '11: 46TH WARD Emily Stewart
by Andrew Davis
2011-02-02

This article shared 7090 times since Wed Feb 2, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Windy City Times interviews three gay candidates for 46th Ward alderman

Emily Stewart may be one of the younger candidates, but she will be the first to tell you that youth does not equal naivete. Stewart, an out lesbian and corporate finance attorney ( and one of 11 candidates in the race for 46th Ward alderman ) , has a business and community background that she feels will serve her well should she become alderman.

Windy City Times talked with Stewart ( who was recently endorsed by the Chicago Sun-Times ) in her Lake View office about several issues, including her background, a school for LGBTQ students and Rahm Emanuel.

Windy City Times: Your background is pretty interesting. Could you tell our readers about it.

Emily Stewart: Sure. I was born and raised in Uptown on Argyle Street and it was a pretty rough neighborhood back then. I played soccer on the lakefront. In addition, I went to Japanese school at the Buddhist Temple.

WCT: What was that like?

Emily Stewart: Well, my mom had gone to the same school so I had a reputation to live up to, because everyone loved her. But I think I missed the mark a little bit. [ Laughs ] But it was great; I learned about Japanese culture and the language.

So my grandmother was a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist, and I actually have a very religious family back in Japan; I was just back there recently. So it was great growing up. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do a lot of activities with neighborhood kids because my parents tried to shield me from everything that was going on. Then I went on to St. Ignatius, NYU and Northwestern University School of Law.

WCT: What compelled you to enter in this race?

Emily Stewart: The board has been divided for so long, and politics have gotten so ugly. I'm sure you've seen the footage of Helen [ Shiller ] running from the entrance of Truman College to her car. So, I really think that there needs to be someone who can unite all the residents of the ward—and I didn't see someone who represented all the interests in the ward.

The second reason I ran is because I'm very concerned about our budget, and none of the candidates talked about that before I got into the race. That's been my major focus since day one.

WCT: Tell me about your political experience.

Emily Stewart: I actually think my corporate-finance background—sitting with business people to come to a solution about their problems—is more relevant than my past experience working on campaigns. I did work on one, down in Galesburg, Ill., and I worked on a U.S. Senate campaign in Chicago.

WCT: You mentioned the budget earlier. Do you feel that is the most critical issue for the 46th Ward?

Emily Stewart: I think it's one of the most critical issues. The thing is that budget affects so many other things. If you don't have a truly balanced budget—Mayor Daley is often quoted as saying, "We have a balanced budget," but that's because he's dipped into reserves to pay off the deficit. I think [ budget ] affects job creation, business development, crime.

One of the things I notice when I walk through Uptown is that I know who the drug dealers are, and so do the residents; they can point them out to you on the street. So the issue is literally that open. It's not that the police don't know; I really believe it's a lack of resources, and that's something I want to focus on.

WCT: Your detractors are going to say you're young [ 30 ] and inexperienced. What would you say to those critics?

Emily Stewart: Well, I would say that my professional background and my education are very important; the quality of [ those things ] is not something everyone brings to the table. In addition, some of the most powerful and effective aldermen started when they were very young: Ed Burke, Gene Schulter. I don't think [ age ] has anything to do with it; a lot of people believe that I bring a mastery of a lot of the issues to the tables—and a lot of the candidates don't bring that.

WCT: Could you talk about the extent of your involvement with the LGBT community, including organizations you've been involved with?

Emily Stewart: My main involvement with the LGBT community has been professional in the sense that I've worked with my old law firm to actively hire qualified LGBTQ members and mentoring them.

But the LGBTQ community has given so much to me. I grew up going over to Cafe Pride, on Addison and Halsted, every Friday for years. I don't think I could ever repay the community for what it's done for me. [ The cafe ] was such a wonderful place to be.

WCT: What do you think about the fact that there are there are so many out candidates in this race? Do you think it might provide some sort of edge? Do you think it won't matter?

Emily Stewart: As a gay person, when I was growing up I was always looking for role models so I do think it's important for gay youth to have these role models, and I think [ 44th Ward Alderman ] Tom Tunney is one of them; he definitely broke barriers. Do I think it'd be great to have more [ out candidates ] ? Absolutely. I think it'd be great to have a lesbian on city council.

I don't think it's going to give people any particular edge, because there are so many of us. But it's a testimony to the diversity of this ward and this community.

WCT: What are your thoughts on a school that would be specifically for LGBTQ students?

Emily Stewart: I wish it wasn't necessary but children need to feel safe and flourish in this environment—and if we can find enough children who would want to be in an LGBTQ campus, then I think it's great and I would support it.

WCT: Do you wish there was a school like that when you grew up?

Emily Stewart: [ Pauses ] I don't know. We are a minority, and I liked being able to interact with all different kinds of people. I mean, it's a really brave kid who can come out at 14 years old. But I'm sure there are kids in Chicago who come from families where they don't feel comfortable, so I'd like to see a lot of diversity with the LGBTQ campus.

But I loved my high school so much, and we had teachers who we knew were gay. One of my religion teachers at St. Ignatius was a gay man who unfortunately passed away from AIDS-related complications when I was a student there. I think Ignatius was a pretty welcoming community.

WCT: Let's say you become alderman. What would you like to accomplish within your first 100 days?

Emily Stewart: I'd set up an interactive website; we need to bring this operation into the 21st century, although I will have extended office hours. I want to build some accountability into that system so I can track my office's performance. If you're complaining about a missing manhole cover, for example, and we farm that out, we need to follow up to make sure [ that task ] is completed.

In addition, I'd like to set up a participatory budgeting committee and framework; it's something I really admire about [ 49th Ward Alderman ] Joe Moore. That's part of the uniting process—building coalitions and giving people an opportunity to effect change.

WCT: Getting back to the race, what do you feel is your biggest asset and what do you feel is your biggest liability?

Emily Stewart: I feel that my biggest asset is my corporate-finance background and bringing that to city council. My biggest liability, I feel, is probably name recognition; that needs to be improved.

There are certain avenues to reach a widespread audience to the community. I've been active with my local block club and I've met with St. Augustine College to make the area around it safe. In addition, I've always been active with the Japanese American Service Committee, and even with my elderly neighbors—taking them to the hospital, translating for them.

For my community, there are things that are important, like organizing a postman's protest for one of the postal workers in the community. He was very much beloved, and got 300 people to sign a petition. At a rally, we had 40 people show up to demand that he be returned to our community.

Some people feel that I haven't been active in the community. Well, that's not true; I've just chosen to serve in a way that has not been geared toward running for public office.

WCT: Are there any LGBT-related issues you want to tackle as alderman?

Emily Stewart: I think because the Center [ on Halsted ] touches the 46th Ward, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. I'd like to work with the center to make sure it stays open longer, so we'll see what we can do there.

WCT: Do you believe that an alderman should step down if he or she is being investigated for illegal activity?

Emily Stewart: No, I don't. We've had a lot of corruption in Chicago, but people are still innocent until they're proven guilty. Once someone's convicted, I believe they should step down and have their pensions taken away—and that's for all city employees.

WCT: With your finance background, I wanted to ask you this: What do you feel about the state's recent income-tax hike?

Emily Stewart: I felt it was unfortunate but necessary. We were facing another downgrade of our credit rating as a state, and that has been lifted. But the pension liability is so great that there's still a problem; I doubt there is the political will to raise taxes high enough to cover all those pension obligations. It will help the city, somewhat. I don't agree with the corporate-tax increase because I think we need to bring jobs here.

WCT: Are you supporting or endorsing any mayoral candidate?

Emily Stewart: I do respect Rahm Emanuel quite a bit. I think he has the strength to be a great leader for the city. As long as he is on the ballot, I will be voting for him.

WCT: Was there anything you wanted to add?

Emily Stewart: One of the most difficult issues facing the city is the budget crisis and a huge reason I decided to run is that no one seemed to be willing to stand up to the special interests in the city, with special interests meaning unions, because they wield so much power in the city. Unions should be powerful entities, but we do need independent aldermen who are willling to stand up for what is right in the city.

We're going to be facing a budget deficit of $1 billion—and half of that is going to be related to increased contributions to city employees' pension funds. I'm the only candidate who's been saying that pension reform for current city employees must come to Chicago; if we don't do that, we're not going to have the services we need to go forward as a city. It's not that I'm an ideologue; it's just reality. The City of Chicago is not guaranteed those pension funds. I want to help protect employees, and help get the city back on track.

See www.CitizensForStewart.com .


This article shared 7090 times since Wed Feb 2, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

New book: Majority Leader Hoyer unsung hero of Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal 2021-06-22
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC — In a new book, LGBTQ Lobbying in the United States, authored by Dr. Christopher Pepin-Neff, LGBTQ researcher and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Sydney and first lobbyist for Don't ...


Gay News

Pride celebration with Lightfoot, tennis legend King on June 24 2021-06-18
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and tennis legend Billie Jean King will co-host a virtual Pride celebration Thursday, June 24, 6-7 p.m. Howard Brown Health's Dr. Magda Houlberg, Chicago House's Avi Rudnick and Brave Space Alliance's LaSaia ...


Gay News

Pritzker announces $10M vaccination lottery 2021-06-18
- As Illinois continues to lead the Midwest in vaccinating our residents, Gov. JB Pritzker announced a new $10 million "All In for the Win" promotion that will reward vaccinated Illinoisans by automatically entering them into a ...


Gay News

Gov. Pritzker signs FY22 state budget into law 2021-06-18
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD — After speaking to the investments made possible by the FY22 state budget this morning, Governor JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 2017, the FY22 Budget Implementation Act, as well as the certification of the General ...


Gay News

Elected school-board bill passes Illinois House 2021-06-16
- In a move seen as a bitter defeat for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Illinois House sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker legislation that would shift control of Chicago Public Schools from the mayor to an elected ...


Gay News

Senate hearings for Gina Ortiz Jones, Shawn Skelly; historic if confirmed 2021-06-16
--From a press release - Washington, DC — The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold confirmation hearings for two LGBTQ presidential nominees this Wednesday and both will make history if confirmed. Gina Ortiz Jones, nominated for Under Secretary of the Air ...


Gay News

Gov. Pritzker signs legislation making Juneteenth an official state holiday 2021-06-16
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD — On June 16, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation declaring June 19, Juneteenth, an official state holiday. To commemorate the abolition of slavery throughout the United States and its territories in 1865, Juneteenth will ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Panic defense, VP Kamala Harris, Black LGBTQ app, crime items 2021-06-13
- Four states and the nation's capital have taken action to ban the so-called LGBTQ "panic defense," which is a legal strategy used by defendants to cite a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity as an excuse ...


Gay News

Congress makes Pulse Nightclub a national memorial 2021-06-12
- The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation designating the site of the Pulse Nightclub a national memorial, NBC News reported. The House passed its version of the bill May 12. The measure now goes to President Joe ...


Gay News

Chicago has moved to Phase 5 2021-06-11
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, along with CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareño, city and community leaders, announced Chicago has moved to Phase 5, fully reopening the city as of June ...


Gay News

ON THE MOVE How Chicago's 'gayborhoods' have shifted since 1965 2021-06-10
- Chicago's gayborhoods (LGBTQ+ neighborhoods) and safe spaces have been important to the city's LGBTQ+ rights movement—and saving them post-COVID may be crucial. New research at Georgetown University highlights the importance ...


Gay News

Lightfoot marks Pride Month at Legacy Project event 2021-06-08
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot was among the speakers at a June 7 Legacy Project event marking Chicago's 2021 Pride Month observance. Other speakers at the event, which was moved indoors to Center on Halsted due to inclement ...


Gay News

WORLD: Domestic violence, activist dies, Jerusalem Pride, Olympics 2021-06-06
- On May 28, the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Foundation launched its #SeenAndBelieved campaign to shine a light on the prevalence of DFV (domestic and family violence) in LGBTQ communities, aiming to break down the barriers to victims ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Election news, AsylumConnect, Pride business items, 'Bears' 2021-06-06
- In Pennsylvania, in a race between contenders in the Democratic primary for Erie County executive, Tyler Titus—a trans person who currently serves as Erie School Board president—was declared the winner, according to The Washington Blade. Titus ...


Gay News

First gay Black man elected to office in Texas 2021-06-06
- On June 5, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez was elected to represent District 2 for the San Antonio City Council—making him the first openly gay Black man elected to any office in Texas history, KEN5.com reported. McKee-Rodriguez, 26, defeated ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.