Women candidates make themselves known at forum

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's not only a big race for mayor in Chicago. All 50 seats on City Council are also up for election and one group is trying to make a big impact.

Women are visible in leadership roles throughout city government. In fact, 15 women serve as aldermen in the City Council. But that's 15 out of 50 seats on the council. The rest are men and those at this forum say that's not enough. They hope to change that.

The 16 women on the panel are candidates for alderman in their wards.

"We have certainly made progress, but I think there is so much farther to go," said moderator Amara Enyia.

Enyia recently ended a bid for Chicago mayor.

Organizers point out that only one woman has ever been elected mayor in Chicago and it wasn't until recently that Jane Byrne's accomplishments were recognized by the city, just months before her death.

They called this forum Women Against the Machine, a statement of their belief that women have mostly been left out of the power structure in city government.

"There's a movement going and people are starting to notice, they're starting to jump on the bandwagon," said Rousemary Vega. "People want change, they want real change."

The candidates fired up the crowd with talk about how they have struggled against better funded male opponents, many of whom are incumbents. Many are running for office for the first time and they are looking for all the support they can get.

"And I'm proud of all these women who are before us today because they are going to make a difference," said mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti.

"This wasn't a debate, this wasn't an endorsement, but it was an acknowledgement and an appreciation of what they do and what do they stand for in the city of Chicago," said Vega.

There are several other women running for alderman in the city who were not part of the forum.

The group calls itself progressive. Among other issues, they say they are all in favor of an independently elected school board.

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