24 February 2011

Chicago's First Asian-American Alderman

Overshadowed recently by the news that Rahm Emanuel would be the first non Daley Chicago mayor in over 20 years is that Rahm's own 47th Ward had other things to be celebrating.

Ameya Pawar, a long shot against current Alderman Gene Schulter's hand picked (and well funded) successor picked up over 50% of the votes (50.78% to be exact, and avoiding a runoff) in a ward whose residents are only 5% Asian-American. 

Chicago born from Indian immigrants Pawar grew up the north suburb of Des Plaines, is a fellow Alum from IIT, and holds another master's out of the University of Chicago.  He has been living in the 47th ward for the past four years and was an unexpected surprise victory in this week's elections.  (Even my mom, who still lives in the neighborhood was pretty excited.  "The Asian guy won!" were the first words out of her mouth when I spoke to her after the elections.)

From the Chicago Tribune:

Pawar, 30, entered the race last year as a long-shot outsider against 35-year incumbent Eugene Schulter. He pulled together a few friends with political experience, turned his North Center apartment into a campaign office and hit the streets.

"After a few months, I figured out how much I could walk in a night," said Pawar, a program assistant at Northwestern University's Office of Emergency Management.
And further from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Pawar was able to pull of his stunning victory because he worked hard, personally knocking on 80 percent of the doors in the ward, and because people liked his message, he said.

"People are voting on issues," Pawar said. "A lot of these long-time
Also from the Trib:

Pawar said he will accept only $60,000 of an alderman's $110,000 salary and will only seek two terms in office.
Pawar for the People indeed.  So, congratulations 47th Ward, and congratulations Ameya Pawar.  Let's have lunch on me - I'm partial to Budacki's on Damen, but whatever works for you..

[Chicago Sun-Times: City's first Asian American alderman glad to have 'seat at the table' ]
[Chicago Tribune: In 47th Ward, a long-shot outsider relishes his victory]

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