Politics/National Security

Rodriguez wins 22nd Ward seat in decisive victory

By Chris Schulz
Medill Reports

Democrat Michael Rodriguez won the 22nd Ward aldermanic seat Tuesday, with 63.9 percent of the vote, defeating three other candidates.

Rodriguez succeeds longtime Alderman Ricardo Muñoz. After representing the 22nd ward for 25 years, Muñoz announced in July that he would not seek reelection and endorsed Rodriguez’s candidacy. Rodriguez also counted on the endorsement of freshman Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (D-4th), who represented the 22nd ward before Muñoz.

Rodriguez applauded supporters at Home Run Inn Pizza on 31st Street on election night. “We did this together. That’s how we do this, and that’s how we’re going to run our office. Everyone in.”

A lifetime resident of Little Village, Rodriguez is the Democratic Committeeman of the 22nd Ward, as well as executive vice chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party. Previously, he worked as executive director of Enlace Chicago, a Little Village nonprofit.

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Chicago hardened controls on cybersecurity with heightened concerns about electronic voting

By Jessica Xieyang Qiao
Medill Reports

Amid the ongoing 2019 mayoral elections and an increasing number of nationwide data breaches, Chicago beefed up cybersecurity controls to defend against potential voter fraud and hacking.

Yet, the cybersecurity environment remains flawed and technology challenges facing the government cast doubts on maintaining the reliability of electronic voting, according to cybersecurity experts.

The decentralized U.S. election landscape

The U.S. election ecosystem is distributed across states, counties and municipalities. Because each jurisdiction runs its own election and the environment is highly decentralized, there is luckily no single location through which a foreign hacker can attack the entire system. But damage can still be done.

“Hackers can change the attitude of people toward an election system. That’s what we need to protect ourselves against,” said Sujeet Shenoi, director of the Cyber Security Education Consortium,  during a panel discussion organized by Global Cyber Security Initiative (GCSI) on Feb.25. “But as far as technical hacking is concerned, it’s very hard to have a large-scale electoral change.”

Yet, because elections tend to be run at local levels, some jurisdictions may lack the technical expertise to defend against foreign hackers.

“It’s so decentralized – a lot of these jurisdictions are small and don’t even have an IT department,” said Kevin McDermott, chief technology officer of Cook County Clerk’s Office.

Toward that end, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funded grants last year for the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center to strengthen cyber threat prevention.

“In Illinois, we have the Cyber Navigator Program, which takes federal money to create a cybersecurity mechanism,” McDermott said. “There’s a great deal of energy at both local and national levels to build the infrastructure, both physical and information-wise, and to develop protocols for each organization.

This video, produced by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, was shown at the panel discussion.

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Chicagoans rejoice at LGBTQ mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot’s historic victory

Ariana Puzzo
Medill Reports

Cheers erupted as supporters embraced each other on election night whenever the statistics showed mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot in the lead as the top voter-getter in a field of 14 candidates.

The former federal prosecutor made history when she, along with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, became the candidates for the April 2 runoff. The election will produce Chicago’s first black female mayor.
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Amara Enyia looks ahead after mayor’s race

By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

Midway through her run for mayor, Amara Enyia relayed a question that a young girl asked her on the far South Side when she learned Enyia was running for mayor of Chicago. “Wow, how do you do that?” the girl said.

“I looked at her and I sort of laughed,” Enyia told the crowd at one of the many mayoral forums. “And I said, ‘You can too, why not?’”

Enyia, the director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, sought to become Chicago’s first African American female mayor and the city’s youngest mayor in recent history. Her candidacy alone was a work of education, a work she finished Tuesday as she cast her ballot. She received 8 percent of the vote, finishing sixth in a field of 14. Top vote-getter Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle now face off in an April 2 runoff.

Amara Enyia casts her ballot at the Ike Sims Village in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. Enyia was accompanied at the polls by her parents, Irene and Sam Enyia. (Video by Dwight A. Weingarten)

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Local teens and activists join David Hogg in Evanston to call for gun violence prevention

By Nora Mabie
Medill Reports

Student activist David Hogg, survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, joined local activists and community members in Evanston Thursday to call for gun violence prevention. They joined him just a year and a week after the attack that left 14 students and three staff members dead.

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Neal Sáles-Griffin launches interactive platforms for voters to compare candidates for mayor

Yixuan Xie
Medill Reports

With the largest field of candidates in Chicago history running for  mayor, mayoral candidate Neal Sáles-Griffin created an interactive city budget and searchable questions platforms to help voters make informed decisions on choosing from  the 14 candidates on the ballot for Tuesday’s election.

Sáles-Griffin, CEO of the nonprofit CodeNow in Chicago, defied the standard for traditional candidate forums and developed an online forum of candidate responses to questions about issues such as education, housing, police and taxes.

Sáles-Griffin was inspired to launch the new tools as he campaigned,  talking to more than 10,000 Chicago residents on the streets and hearing what mattered to them, he stated in a press release. Continue reading

Ford announces new hybrid police SUV – CPD buying in, Rahm says

By Brady Jones
Medill Reports

Fighting crime in Chicago will soon be getting a lot greener.

The 2019 Chicago Auto Show unveiled sleek new designs, increased towing capacity and even a pizza-baking concept car. And Ford Motor Company’s new hybrid version of its police SUV, called the Police Interceptor Utility, promises to offer an environmentally friendly option for law enforcement that will reduce both fuel costs and the department’s carbon footprint.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel—who noted that he owns a hybrid vehicle—spoke as an invited guest of Ford for the press conference, and he highlighted the long-standing, positive relationship between the company and the city. Continue reading

25th Ward Aldermanic Candidate Hilario Dominguez is making waves – Q and A

By Justin Agrelo
Medill Reports

Hilario Dominguez is making waves and ruffling some feathers on his run to become the 25th Ward’s next alderman. The ward covers all of Pilsen and Chinatown, and parts of Mckinley Park, Tri-Taylor, the West Loop, and the South Loop. And it hasn’t seen a new alderman in more than two decades.

Dominguez, 25, a former educator who was born and raised in Pilsen, is the youngest in this race among five candidates.  And with major endorsements from Chance The Rapper and the Chicago
Sun-Times, Dominguez is looking like the candidate to beat.

Late Friday evening, after hours of canvassing and just four days before election night, Dominguez spoke to me about that Chance endorsement, his views on term limits, the 25th Ward’s controversial 22-year Alderman, Danny Solis, and more.

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Majority of Americans now accept climate change, support carbon tax

By Cyan Zhong
Medill Reports

Remember this tweet from President Donald Trump as the Midwest shivered through record low temperatures?

Despite the nation’s chief executive still denying climate change, America’s public sentiment on climate science is shifting to acceptance and a call for action.

The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released the results of a poll in January surveying Americans’ stance on climate and energy issues, showing that seven in 10 Americans now believe climate change is a reality.

More than 70 percent of Americans believe climate change is a reality. (Courtesy of EPIC/AP-NORC)

While partisan difference persists – 86 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans believe climate change is real – it has become a majority opinion across party lines, said Lindsay Iversen, deputy director at EPIC.

The poll results showed not only increasing support for the science of climate change but also a general willingness to take action on it. Forty-four percent of participants said they support the implementation of a tax on carbon-based fuels.

“The fact that people are willing to support a carbon tax on all of their income and across a number of different realms, not just in the narrow application with their electricity bill, I think that’s suggesting an openness to a bigger picture policy,” Iversen said.

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Trump calls border migrants a “tremendous onslaught,” sparking concerns from mental health experts

By Carly Graf
Medill Reports

President Donald Trump described the U.S. and Mexican boundary as “our very dangerous southern border,” during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, reigniting concerns about punitive immigration practices and mental health impacts.

His rallying cry included a call to Congress to put the “ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers and human traffickers out of business.”

In the shadow of the longest government shutdown in history, spurred by a political standoff over funding for a border wall, scrutiny of the administration’s policy rekindled also after a January a report from the Office of the Inspector General. The report revealed that thousands more children may have been taken from parents than initially reported.

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