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Elections Fri Dec 06 2013

Ald. Moreno Endorses Will Guzzardi for 39th District State Representative

By Jeff Bishku-Aykul

Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) officially announced his support for 39th District state representative candidate Will Guzzardi at a Wednesday fundraiser for the 26-year-old, who will take on incumbent and fellow Democrat Toni Berrios in a March 18 primary. Guzzardi, a graduate of Brown University and currently a writer for the University of Chicago's admissions office, fell just 125 votes short of beating Berrios in 2012.

"I don't take these sort of endorsements lightly at all," Moreno said in a Thursday interview. Moreno, whose ward overlaps with part of the district Guzzardi is running to represent, supported Gery Chico during Chicago's 2011 mayoral election. Moreno and his Democratic political organization, 1st Ward First, are both endorsing Guzzardi.

Moreno cited inaction in and frustration with Springfield and Guzzardi's independence and accessibility as factors in his decision.

"My endorsement is not just my name, and my organization's name. We are out there knocking on doors. I will raise money and give that to him, to support him," Moreno said. "We're going to be very invested in this race."

Moreno compared Guzzardi -- who has never held political office -- to City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who was elected state representative at 28, saying that he doesn't think age is a "qualifier or a disqualifier."

"On this pension reform deal, I think he would have provided more than just a vote," Moreno said. "I think also that he's not going to have to make decisions based on alliances with other folks that have a different agenda than the district does."

Guzzardi -- who is white -- is running in a majority Hispanic district. At the same time, his campaign rhetoric has linked Toni Berrios with her father, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios -- the first Hispanic elected to the Illinois General Assembly -- in an attempt to capitalize on his checkered political past. Also the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, Berrios was fined $10,000 for after a 2012 ethics probe determined he violated a county ordinance by hiring family members.

Asked about their relationship, Moreno says he does not oppose personal or familial relationships in politics, so long as they do not compromise the influence of a politician's constituency.

"You're always going to have people influence your decisions," Moreno said. "But if you're willing to look at one or two individuals influencing you rather than your district, that's a serious problem."

~*~

Jeff Bishku-Aykul is the assistant to the editor of the Hyde Park Herald and a freelance writer. His work has appeared in The Washington Times, In These Times and the English edition of Time Out Istanbul, and his reporting has been quoted by The Washington Post. To read more of his articles, visit jeffhba.tumblr.com.

 
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