Monday, January 26, 2015

Maureen Sullivan - A Personal Endorsement

January 24, 1983
I first met Maureen when she was working on her book about Bridgeport for the Images of America series. She came by the church to do some research, during which she unearthed this old photo of the Harold Washington / Richard Daley Debate in the sanctuary, taken January 24, 1983. 

I liked Maureen. She was interested in history, and had great love for and pride in this place, Bridgeport, her native home. She also had a taste for punk rock, which to me was impressive.

Being a historian and a progressive, Maureen knew that love for and pride in a place meant wanting positive change for it. Bridgeport pride could not simply consist of looking back at what it was in certain “glory days,” but also realizing that the glory days for some were anything but glorious. Riddled with racism and corruption, to many people, and especially to African Americans and other minorities, Bridgeport was unsafe, a no-go zone in the city, to be avoided at all costs. These realities, for me, are sources of shame—not pride—and realities I am glad are slowly changing. 

Looking back, it’s clear that looking back is not the answer, but rather, looking forward. How could this place we love so much become so much better? How might this place become embraced and represented in all its diversity, a place where all members of the community have a voice, no matter their language of origin, or last name? 

We’re not there yet. But, over the years, as I’ve worked with Maureen—first in the struggle for the closing of the Fisk and Crawford coal fired power plants, and in the formalization and founding of Bridgeport Alliance; then in campaigning for the 31st Street Bus, visiting our current alderman, and asking him to advocate for us; and in the fight to keep our schools open when our current mayor was busy shutting down schools all over the city; it’s become clear to me that Maureen and I share some key values. 

You see, because we love this community, and the people in it, we believe in advocating for causes that help and empower the people in it. This means not supporting behind-the-scenes favors, winks, and handshakes that keep coal plants open, privatize schools, deny public transportation, secretly approve heliports, or foster any other harmful situations or environments that negatively impact public health, and put our children and seniors at risk for the sake of corporate profit and already wealthy individuals. 

January 25, 2015
The benefit of many, and not just of a few extends into advocacy for an elected school board in Chicago, also advocated for by our city’s teachers who care for and encourage our youth, and who know that when our parents and invested community members have a say in education, we make decisions for the good of our children’s education and the future of our city, instead of, again, someone’s or some corporation's privatized pocketbook. 

Lastly, Maureen told those congregated yesterday that her staff will reflect the diversity of the neighborhood--a small step, but a deeply symbolic first step, in the direction toward a ward represented and empowered in its diversity.

January 25, 2015—almost exactly 32 years after Washington and Daley stood at the microphone in the sanctuary—Maureen Sullivan, John Kozlar, and Patrick Daley Thompson sat in the same spot, and spoke to a ward still in need of change and movement. They all had some things to say. But I've made up my mind. 

As she continues her campaign, though it may have been implied, I'd like to say it out loud and directly: I offer my personal endorsement for Maureen Sullivan for 11th Ward Alderman, 2015. She is the candidate that best represents my values. 

I encourage you to consider her, as well, and to act on it. Get out and canvas! 

If you're on the fence, go meet her. To volunteer to phone bank or canvas, reach out to her campaign online, or contact, and spend your weekends working for positive change as the election draws near. 


Rev. Tom Gaulke 


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  2. I appreciated your thoughts about Maureen. I have a similar sense of her from working on other community activities. I appreciate that she doesn't speak in sound bites; instead, even when giving a prepared statement she draws listeners into a discussion with her. Like most of us, I prefer to work with people who want me to be a part of the conversation. This is one of the reasons that after a generation of neglect I think Maureen is the right person for 11th Ward Alderman.