The new year brings in a new era of South Asian political leadership in Illinois. SAAPRI shares the latest data on our local communities and opportunities for representation in upcoming municipal elections below.
On January 5th, 2019, Ram Villivalam (D) was sworn in as the state senator for the IL 8th Senate District, becoming the first Asian American and South Asian American state senator. Asian American representation in the General Assembly tripled this past election as Senator Villivalam joined the newly formed Asian American caucus with Representative Theresa Mah (IL-2) and Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (IL-7). Together they aim to represent the needs of the Asian American community in their districts and across the state. Asians and Pacific Islanders make up 21 percent of the population in Senator Villivalam’s district, the highest among all IL state senate districts (i). The 8th district also contains parts of municipalities with large South Asian populations (ii).
Another significant result for the South Asian community was the re-election of Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D) in the IL 8th Congressional District. Congressman Krishnamoorthi was elected to his second term after defeating Jitendra Diganvker (R). The IL 8th Congressional District also has a substantial South Asian community, with 10 municipalities for which South Asians make up over 5 percent of the population (iii). In Schaumburg, the largest of these municipalities, a South Asian candidate, Nafees Rahman, is running in the Mayoral election on April 2nd, 2019 against candidates Tom Dailly and Matthew Steward. Sunil Shah, another South Asian candidate, was slated to be on the ballot before he withdrew from the race in late December.
There are hundreds of other municipal elections taking place across Illinois on April 2nd, 2019 with elections for municipal offices (mayor, city councils, village boards of trustees, clerks, and treasurers). To see IL municipalities with 2019 elections that have at least a 5 percent South Asian population, check out the figures below and the “2019 IL Municipal Elections” data layer on SAAPRI’s South Asian Community Asset Map for a full list with corresponding data (iv). In total there are 146 IL municipalities listed, including 124 in Cook County and 42 IL municipalities (v).
Other opportunities for South Asians to take the polls include Chicago’s municipal elections on February 26th, 2019, with run-off elections on April 2nd, 2019, if necessary. Constituents in Chicago will be voting for mayor, city council members, city treasurer, and city clerk. Current 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar, the first South Asian to be elected to Chicago City Council, is among the candidates running in the city treasurer’s race. There are over 52,000 South Asians living in Chicago (iv).
With at least 15 candidates running for mayor of Chicago, 50 different aldermanic elections in Chicago, and all the other local municipal elections in the state, every vote has an impact. SAAPRI continues working to bring issues important to our community to the attention of our representatives. As part of our work, SAAPRI co-hosted a non-partisan Multicultural and Interfaith Chicago Mayoral Forum on January 23rd, 2019.
i. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census
ii. U.S. Census Bureau, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. South Asian populations in municipalities that are a part of IL 8th Congressional district: Lincolnwood (19.19%), Morton Grove (14.43%), Skokie (11.00%), and Glenview (4.16%). The district also includes the West Ridge neighborhood of Chicago (14.30% South Asian).
iii. U.S. Census Bureau, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. South Asian populations in municipalities that are a part of IL 8th Congressional district: South Barrington (25.53%), Hoffman Estates (17.22%), Schaumburg (14.44%), Hanover Park (10.21%), Bloomingdale (8.79%), Lombard (8.27%), Streamwood (7.94%), Elk Grove Village (6.65%), and Addison (5.62%)
iv. U.S. Census Bureau, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
v. Sources for municipalities with 2019 municipal elections: Cook County Clerk’s Office, Directory of Elected Officials and the respective IL city and village websites