Chicago Votes parade leads CPS students to voting polls amid 'Bring Chicago Home' referendum debate

Craig Wall Image
Friday, March 15, 2024
Chicago Votes parade leads CPS students to early voting polls
A Chicago Votes parade led Chicago Public Schools students to early voting polls Friday amid the "Bring Chicago Home" tax referendum debate.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Last minute efforts to get voters to the polls were underway on several fronts Friday, with the Illinois primary election just four days away.

One event was focused on students. Another event focused specifically on the Bring Chicago Home referendum on the ballot aimed at helping the unhoused. However, the two events were not entirely unrelated.

Students joined in chants of "housing is a human right" as they marched to the polls, led by members of La Casa Norte and Chicago Votes. It was billed as an effort to help high school students vote for the first time.

"I feel very excited," Hubbard High School student Angel Madrigal said. "I think it matters and it's important to vote."

The non-partisan integrity of the event was under question by conservative groups, with the effort starting with a congressional candidate forum hosted earlier this week at the headquarters of the Chicago Teachers Union, a staunch advocate of Bring Chicago Home.

It's been kind of insulting... they keep assuming that young people are being pressured by adults to vote a certain way
Chicago Votes spokeswoman Katrina Phidd

The ballot referendum would change the real estate transfer tax rates to raise millions to help the unhoused.

"Here are hundreds of students who don't have a house," La Casa Norte Student Ambassador Diana Trevino said. "We need to bring important cause to this because there's people on the streets every day. We just pass by them. It is very important that everybody has their own house."

Voter guides were placed on chairs throughout the auditorium were with a link to Included was a comic strip showing Mayor Brandon Johnson pitching the referendum and another showing a polling place, saying "your valued vote is needed" to Bring Chicago Home.

The referendum was an issue teachers had talked to students about in the classroom before the event.

"They never really forced like a decision on us, but they definitely gave us information about it," Kenwood Academy senior student Nia Hawkins said. "I've definitely learned that it's important and significant factor, and I definitely feel like people should definitely be for it."

Bring Chicago Home was not officially part of the "go to the polls" event, but the campaign was clearly hoping to win support from young voters sympathetic to the cause.

RELATED | IL Supreme Court denies appeal of counting votes for controversial Bring Chicago Home referendum

Chicago Votes spokeswoman Katrina Phidd bristled at the notion students were being unduly influenced to vote in favor of the referendum.

"It's been kind of insulting to hear from like elected officials and things too, that they keep assuming that young people are being pressured by adults to vote a certain way... because young people are entirely capable of making decisions on their own," Phidd said.

Some CPS schools teachers were doing more than just educating students about Bring Chicago Home

"They help with like the homelessness on the streets and stuff and make housing more affordable," Michelle Clark High School senior student Damarion Williams said.

Williams said he was encouraged by teachers to vote yes on the referendum.

The youth vote could have a significant impact on whether the controversial referendum passes.