Skip to content Skip to footer

Launching a “Down-Ballot Revolution” in Chicago

Amanda Weaver of Reclaim Chicago is working to recruit candidates for state and local office.

Part of the Series

Amanda Weaver is inspiring new politicians from the grass roots of greater Chicago by nurturing, supporting and connecting them with a wider network of allies. As executive director of Reclaim Chicago, a political organization, Weaver encourages everyday people in the neighborhoods and suburbs of the city to run for office. She taps people who display charisma, drive and dedication — including everyone from nurses to teachers to community leaders — in her effort to launch what she calls a “down-ballot revolution.”

Since Reclaim Chicago started in 2014, the group has supported and helped elect three state representatives, a state senator, two aldermen and a city clerk. In 2016, they also backed Kim Foxx, who became the first African-American elected as state’s attorney for Cook County, the second-largest prosecutor’s office in the country.

To see more stories like this, visit Moyers & Company at Truthout.

Working with a coalition of progressive groups like The People’s Lobby and National Nurses United, Weaver helps potential candidates develop long-term plans, provides them with training and establishes the ongoing network of support that people need to run for seats on school boards, in city hall, or in the state house. And when a Reclaim Chicago candidate enters office, says Weaver, “We’re going to have to hold them accountable.”

Weaver initially entered grass-roots political organizing as a student activist. She was the first in her family to attend college but her parents didn’t have the financial resources to support her, leaving her with six-figure debt by the time she graduated with a master’s degree.

She soon realized that “no amount of talking about problems, like not being able to put food on the table, was going to actually change people’s lives.” It was a tipping point she says in this video. “I feel like I bought a ticket to a broken system, ” she says. Ever since, she has been looking for new ways to fix the system from the ground up.

She draws inspiration from her mother who, after losing a son to the opioid epidemic, is now speaking out about the crisis. “If my mom can do it,” says Weaver, “then I truly believe that we can take this crisis that we have as a country, and turn it into a moment to build power and create something beautiful.”

A critical message, before you scroll away

You may not know that Truthout’s journalism is funded overwhelmingly by individual supporters. Readers just like you ensure that unique stories like the one above make it to print – all from an uncompromised, independent perspective.

At this very moment, we’re conducting a fundraiser with a goal to raise $37,000 in the next 5 days. So, if you’ve found value in what you read today, please consider a tax-deductible donation in any size to ensure this work continues. We thank you kindly for your support.