Update on the 48th Ward

Feb 7, 2023

ONE People’s Campaign learned in late January of allegations of racism within Nick Ward’s campaign and that a person close to the campaign had lied about their race or ethnicity. At that time, we temporarily suspended our fieldwork in support of the campaign, pending an internal investigation. 

ONE People’s Campaign is a community-based, grassroots organization committed to advancing progressive policies and ending injustice by building the collective power of those most affected by systems of oppression. As such we took these claims very seriously. 

After conducting a thorough investigation, we have concluded that the specific allegations we were examining took place in the 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice IPO in the summer of 2021, not in Nick’s campaign, which launched in January 2022. Grassroots leaders and staff interviewed six people familiar with the campaign, including people of color who were involved with the campaign and/or the 48th ward IPO (48th Ward Neighbors for Justice), which is part of Nick Ward’s electoral coalition, and with Nick himself. We learned from our interviews that harmful dynamics had existed in the IPO, which led some people of color to leave that organization. Much of this toxic atmosphere stemmed from one individual, who has since been dismissed from the organization. We also learned that the IPO attempted at the time to heal the harm that had occurred, by bringing in a restorative justice facilitator, for instance. Their leadership assured us they are working proactively to be an anti-racist organization and to continue to try to heal the harm that took place. 

Nick learned from those experiences and listened to the people of color in his campaign and took active steps to ensure his campaign for Alderman was open and inclusive and to try to prevent harm from occurring. Secondly, Nick assured us that he has cut all ties with the person who allegedly lied about their ethnicity and that they will have no place within his campaign or future evolution of his office. Furthermore, he demonstrated that the experience has given him the opportunity for self-reflection on ways to be more actively engaged in antiracism and to consistently ensure that his campaign and his future aldermanic office are spaces of transparency, honesty, and integrity.

We believe Nick Ward is the strongest candidate for the 48th Ward. On February 2, ONE People’s Campaign 48th Ward members and leadership team voted unanimously to resume our fieldwork in support of Nick Ward. 

To come to this conclusion, we revisited our decision-making process when making an aldermanic endorsement, which includes key criteria for consideration such as:

  • Does this candidate have a plan to execute a strategy to win?
  • Does the candidate have an understanding of how to co-govern with us and will they do so?
  • Does the candidate align with our values and platform?
  • Will this candidate be a bold, progressive champion? 

Above all, we know that Nick is a strong champion on the issues that matter most to our members– Bring Chicago Home, holistic approaches to community safety, maintaining and increasing housing affordability, and more.

Moving forward, we are committed to working with Nick Ward and the 48th Ward campaign to continually engage in a process of accountability and growth as we work toward the election, and as we build a co-governing relationship with Nick as Alderman. Throughout this process, we have also consulted with close movement partners, including Asian American Midwest Progressives, to make sure we are aligned in how we hold Nick, his campaign staff, and his future aldermanic office staff accountable to prevent situations like this from arising in the future. As an organization who is working to be anti-racist, we expect the same level of reflection and proactive work from the candidates, electeds, and other organizations with whom we work. Nick and his staff have made firm commitments to anti-racist practices that are being implemented in the campaign, and we look forward to supporting him and holding him accountable in the coming months and years.