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Run Helen Run!

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 26, 2006 1:05PM

Chicagoist found this bizarre video today:

Yes, yes, the video is juvenile, disjointed, mildly delusional, and most likely from someone that has no affiliation whatsoever to the fellow that is challenging 46th Ward Alderman Helen Shiller this winter. But if you add it up with some other tidbits, you can see that Shiller is going to have to run a campaign this year to hold on to her office.

Besides this bit of weirdness, there are other factors at play here. Demographically speaking, the 46th Ward is gayer than Boystown in the 44th Ward. And among a portion of that group, Shiller has her detractors (in spite of supporting gay rights and causes over the years). According to Rick Garcia of Equality Illinois

Shiller has a perception problem with gay voters, who think she's in the pockets of the poor, opposed to development and downright unfriendly. There's a cadre of gay, middle-class white men who "absolutely hate" Shiller, says Garcia, a Shiller supporter. "All these guys talk about is that 'I stand behind one of these poor people in the Jewel with the Link cards and they buy things I can't afford to buy.'"

While Chicagoist understands the frustration that many middle-class people feel when experiencing poverty face-to-face, we think it's a bit ridiculous to blame an Alderman that has been committed to grassroots organizing and political empowerment for having to stand in line behind poor people at Jewel. And we wonder if this cadre of "gay, middle-class, white men" didn't know that they were living by the Wilson Club Hotel before they bought!?

It's true that Shiller has supported balanced development and planned growth in her ward from the beginning. In fact, Uptown has one of the highest per-capita ratio of subsidized housing in the city, and is still largely rental. But "in the pockets of the poor"? Chicagoist didn't think the poor had pockets to buy clout with.

Considering that the anonymous irishpirate1 felt inspired to put together a video celebrating James Cappelman, Shiller's gay opponent for Alderman, considering that there is a group of condo owners in Uptown that wouldn't mind seeing their property values go up, and considering that what happens east of Broadway in terms of development will have the greatest impact on low-income families in that community, it's obvious that Garcia is onto something. The question that faces 46th Ward residents in February is how upscale they want their community to be.