Andre Vasquez
Andre Vasquez at Lincoln Yards protest, April 2019.jpg
Member of the Chicago City Council
from the 40th ward
Assumed office
May 20, 2019
Preceded byPatrick J. O'Connor
Personal details
Born (1979-05-21) May 21, 1979 (age 42)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Illinois, Chicago
Kaplan University

Andre Vasquez (born May 21, 1979) is a Chicago politician, community organizer, and former rapper. He is the alderman of the city's 40th ward. He won election to that office after defeating incumbent Patrick O'Connor in the 2019 Chicago aldermanic elections. Vasquez is a member of the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.[1] He lost the race for 40th Ward Democratic Committeeperson in 2020.

Early life, education, and career

Vasquez was born in Chicago on May 21, 1979,[2] and attended Lane Technical College Prep High School.[3][4] He attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he studied English/Language Arts Teacher Education, but did not graduate. He later earned an associate degree in business administration and management from Kaplan University in 2014.[5][6]

As of 2019, he held a position as a cell phone account manager at AT&T.[7]

Hip-hop career

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Vasquez performed as a hip-hop artist under the stage name Prime, a reference to the fictional character Optimus Prime.[4][1] He first became involved in battle rap during his time at Lane Tech High School in the early 1990s, and later became a member of the underground hip-hop collective Molemen.[4] He also toured with the hip-hop group Atmosphere and appeared on MTV's Direct Effect and HBO's Blaze Battle. He ended his career as a rapper in 2010.[4]

Vasquez's career as a rapper later became the subject of controversy during his 2019 campaign for Chicago City Council, when his opponent criticized him for using misogynistic and homophobic lyrics.[1] Vasquez apologized for the lyrics, saying that "As a person who felt inadequate in my own skin, I thought denigrating others would make me feel bigger and there is no excuse for that."[8]

Early political career

Vasquez became involved in electoral politics during the 2016 presidential election as a supporter of Bernie Sanders.[4] As of 2019, he was the chair of the north side chapter of Reclaim Chicago, a progressive political action committee.[4]

In May 2018, Vasquez officially kicked off his campaign for alderman of Chicago's 40th ward.[9] He was one of five candidates who appeared on the ballot in the first-round election on February 26, 2019, where he placed second with about 20 of the vote.[10] Since no candidate received more than half of the vote, he and 36-year incumbent Patrick J. O'Connor advanced to a run-off election held on April 2. Vasquez defeated O'Connor in that election, receiving 54% of the vote.[7]

On April 10, 2019, Vasquez joined six other newly elected members of the City Council in protesting against the approval of tax increment financing for the Lincoln Yards and The 78 real estate developments.[11]

Chicago City Council (2019–present)

Vasquez was sworn in as a member of Chicago City Council on May 20, 2019. He is a member of the Council's Progressive Caucus.

In November 2019, Vasquez was one of eleven aldermen to vote against Mayor Lori Lightfoot's first budget.[12] He joined all five other members of the Socialist Caucus in signing a letter to Lightfoot which criticized her budget for "an over-reliance on property taxes" and "regressive funding models" that are "burdensome to our working-class citizens, while giving the wealthy and large corporations a pass."[13]

In November 2020, Vasquez voted in favor of the Mayor's 2021 budget proposal, which passed by a 29-21 vote. Vasquez said that his vote was based on achieving several concessions as amendments to the Mayor's original proposal and a commitment from colleagues to include progressive and structural revenue options in the 2022 budget proposal.[14][15] Vasquez was censured by the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America who said in a statement that Vasquez had "sided with an austerity regime and the Democratic Party establishment over the interests of Chicago’s working class."[15][16]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Hernandez, Alex V. (March 15, 2019). "Ald. Pat O'Connor Slams Challenger Andre Vasquez Over Misogynistic, Homophobic Rap Lyrics". Block Club Chicago. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  2. ^ Andre Vasquez, Candidate for Chicago City Council
  3. ^ "Andre Vasquez for 40th Ward Alderman - About". Andre Vasquez for 40th Ward Alderman. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Galil, Leor (February 14, 2019). "Hip-hop taught Andre Vasquez about community—and he wants to take those lessons to City Hall". Chicago Reader. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  5. ^ "40th Ward candidate for alderman: Andre Vasquez". Chicago Sun-Times. January 27, 2019. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  6. ^ Vasquez Jr., Andre. "Andre Vasquez Jr. | LinkedIn". LinkedIn. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Hernandez, Alex V. (April 2, 2019). "Andre Vasquez Declares Victory Over Ald. Pat O'Connor, Rahm's Longtime Floor Leader". Block Club Chicago. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  8. ^ Schulte, Sarah (March 15, 2019). "40th Ward alderman's race: O'Connor slams opponent Vasquez over 'homophobic, misogynistic' rap lyrics". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  9. ^ Andrefor40th (May 10, 2018). "TUNE IN: Andre for 40th Campaign Kickoff! • May 19th 2018". Andre Vasquez for 40th Ward Alderman. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  10. ^ Hernandez, Alex V. (February 26, 2019). "Ald. Pat O'Connor And Andre Vasquez Headed To Runoff In 40th Ward Race". Block Club Chicago. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  11. ^ Spielman, Fran (April 10, 2019). "City Council OKs $1.6 billion in subsidies for Lincoln Yards, 'The 78'". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on April 10, 2019. Retrieved April 20, 2019. Joining the protesters were seven newly-elected progressive aldermen: Daniel La Spata (1st); Mike Rodriguez (22nd); Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th); Andre Vasquez (40th); Matt Martin (47th) and Maria Hadden (49th).
  12. ^ Spielman, Fran (November 26, 2019). "City Council approves Lightfoot's $11.6 billion budget — with 11 'no' votes". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  13. ^ Bremer, Shelby (November 26, 2019). "Chicago City Council Passes Lightfoot's Budget Proposal". NBC Chicago. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  14. ^ "2021 Budget Aldermanic Statement". 40th Ward Of Chicago - Alderman Andre Vasquez. November 21, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Laurence, Justin (November 25, 2020). "Democratic Socialists Move To Kick Out Alderman Who Voted For Lightfoot's Budget — But 'In Order To Win, You Have To Negotiate,' He Says". Block Club Chicago. Archived from the original on November 25, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  16. ^ Chicago City DSA (November 24, 2020). "Here's our official statement censuring DSA Member @Andrefor40th". Twitter. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2020.