Regarding Attacks

Recently our campaign has been made aware of a coordinated campaign of flyers, digital ads, and direct mail, funded by our opponent and special interests, which displays comments I made and lyrics I wrote, much of it during my previous career as a battle rapper.

First and most important, I unequivocally apologize for the things I said years ago. Those words hurt people and there are no excuses for them. Like many young men in the hip hop community, I found an outlet for my own anger and feelings of inadequacy in words that denigrate others. Nonetheless, I, along with every person who’s a part of hip-hop culture, the City of Chicago, and our society can and must do better.

I’m not proud of who I was then, but I am proud of the man I am today. Here in the 40th Ward, I will always be available for conversations and I want to be held accountable by my neighbors. We should have an Alderman we can trust and be proud of.

Part of that is an ongoing commitment to running an issues-focused campaign that takes our neighbors’ concerns and our city’s needs seriously. It’s disappointing that the incumbent’s campaign has chosen to focus on personal attacks.

Voters have a clear choice between the past and the future in this race, and I hope that through my work I can earn each person’s trust, and that together we can build a community in our ward that is committed to fighting against biases, bigotry, and oppression in every aspect of our lives.

My track record and support

I will continue to do the work personally in my organizing - this means forming deep and vulnerable relationships with people directly targeted by the systems I perpetuated, apologizing to them, and working with them to build a more just city.

The campaign I've built reflects what I hope an open government to be: regardless of how you identify, you have a voice and a place in government. I’ve been honored to see the broad-based support in our campaign’s leadership, among our volunteers, and among our donors. Since the attacks, I have been moved by dozens of personal statements from women and LGBTQ folks who know me through organizing speaking to my character and commitment to these issues. Community leaders, such as Brian Johnson from Equality Illinois, have also spoken up to show their support.

"But for me, I welcome Vasquez as an ally of our community and I seek his partnership, as I do with every ally, in addressing the many injustices we face as a city together" -- Equality Illinois' CEO Responds To Andre Vasquez Past Remarks

I’ve stood with our most marginalized communities as I did last October, demanding justice for Dejanay Stanton and Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier. I’ve marched with my sisters in solidarity to protest the toxic and unequal world we live in. I’ve spoken about the harm and trauma that is inflected when families are torn apart. I’ve learned and understand from showing up in these relationships and actions that even in a place like Andersonville, our neighbors don't always feel safe walking down the street and living their authentic selves.

Therefore, I’m committed to action to improve our community for everyone.

Forward-looking commitments

-I will fight to defend a woman’s right to choose. At the city level, this means I will oppose the use of TIF and all other taxpayer dollars to support and advance health care institutions that put the health and lives of women at risk by denying them comprehensive reproductive health care. I will fight any and all restrictions on the right to choose, and will ensure reproductive healthcare is covered fully for all people in Chicago.

-I will fight for affordable housing. Housing is a human right. Your identification within the LGBTQ community, being a survivor of domestic violence, your documentation status, nor your gender identity should preclude you to this right. We know that LGBTQ youth face unprecedented levels of homelessness. I will work with the boots on the ground LGBTQ organizations such as Affinity Community Services, Center on Halsted, Howard Brown Health Center, Equality Illinois, the Night Ministries, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, and Pride Action to understand the community’s priorities and move to action.

-I will fight for LGBTQ and women-focused curriculum in our schools to combat misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and other harmful systems. To be best equipped to fight for the LGBTQ community’s needs, it is crucial that we teach children from a young age the positive impact women and LGBTQ individuals have had on society. This starts by updating our curriculum standards.

-I will run an open and accountable ward office that respects each neighbor’s authentic self. From equal opportunity hiring policies and proactive recruitment into marginalized communities in hiring my ward staff, to regular open town halls where our neighbors can hold me accountable, I want every neighbor to feel a full participant in civic life regardless of their identity.

Closing

I will always be available for conversations about this and I want to be held accountable by my neighbors. I will do everything in my power to earn your respect, knowing that it is a personal decision to give it, and being respectful of that fact. I hope that through my work I can earn your trust and that together we can build a community in our ward that is committed to fighting against biases, bigotry, and oppression in every aspect of our lives.

- Andre Vasquez