CORE candidates have night of fun and fundraising at Second City to help launch 2013 election campaign

Nearly 300 members of the Chicago Teachers Union Caucus Of Rank and file Educators (CORE) and supporters gathered at Chicago's world famous Second City comedy theater on Sunday night, February 10, 2013, to celebrate CORE's first three years of leading the CTU and raise money towards the CORE candidates' re-election campaign for 2013. The CTU elections, which are held every three years, will be held this year on May 17.

CORE leaders on stage at Second City thanking those who came to the event on February 10, 2013. Left to right, Kristine Mayle (CTU financial secretary), Karen Lewis (CTU president), Al Ramirez (CORE co-chairman) and Nate Goldbaum (CORE co-chairman). Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt. The festive evening came about as a result of strategic planning by members of the CORE steering committee, the group of a dozen elected leaders who have ensured that CORE, unlike any other caucus in CTU history, has maintained a vivacious social, study and political life between elections. Tickets for the event were $50 per person, and enabled the caucus to make a considerable profit despite having to pay for every seat in the world-famous Second City "Main Stage."

The night was hosted by CORE, and CORE co-chairs Nate Goldbaum and Al Ramirez introduced the leading candidates from the Second City Main Stage. In brief remarks, Karen Lewis reminded the audience that there is a lot of work to do in order to win the election against the expected opposition of the United Progressive Caucus which is expected to merge with the remnants of PACT and a smaller fragment called the SEA caucus. Warming to her role on stage at Second City, Lewis reminded the audience that they still had to bring out the votes to win against the "THEY SUCK VOTE FOR US" party, which was how Lewis characterized the opposition to CORE.

The event raised more than $5,000 for CORE's re-election campaign.

The CORE candidates for the top offices for the union are the incumbents -- Karen Lewis (President), Kristine Mayle (Financial Secretary), Michael Brunson (Recording Secretary) and Jesse Sharkey (Vice President). Most of the candidates for the CTU executive board who were nominated at the January CORE nominating meeting were also in attendances, as well as dozens of people, many of them present and former Substance staffers, who had done Second City benefits for Substance during previous years.

The massive organizing required for a CTU election begins in earnest in mid-February, when petitions become available. In order to be nominated for any position in the union, a candidate must get the signatures of five percent of the eligible voters for that position. Hence, the candidates for citywide offices (the four officers, six trustees, and three area vice presidents) need to get at least 1,500 signatures, while candidates for offices representing smaller groups (the "functional vice presidents") require fewer signatures. The massive CTU democracy, which proved so robust during the organizing towards the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, is reflected in the structure of the election.

Nominating petitions have to be turned in to the union's finance office by the third Friday of March, and the final review of whether candidates are eligible for the offices for which they have been nominated is announced at the April meeting of the union's 800-member House of Delegates. At the May House of Delegates meeting, the candidates for President speak to the House. The election will be held on May 17.

CORE's Kim Bowsky handled sales of "CORE swag" at the entrance to the show. Dozens of tee shirts were sold, along with other materials. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.As CORE escalates its preparations for another election (CORE successfully re-elected Jay Rehak and Lois Ashford to the Board of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, CTPF, in November), sales of tee shirts and other pre-election materials were brisk. CORE tee shirts and others materials are now also being sold (Pay Pal is an option) at the CORE website,

If no candidate gets a majority of the votes for an office, a runoff election has to be scheduled. Twice in the 21st Century, in 2004 and 2010, there had to be a runoff. In the June 2004 runoff, the challenger Marilyn Stewart and her United Progressive Caucus (UPC) defeated the then-incumbent Debbie Lynch and Lynch's Pro-Active Chicago Teacher (PACT) caucus. In June 2010, Karen Lewis and CORE defeated and unseated Marilyn Stewart and the UPC.

The complex balloting requires that the union hire an outside company to count and certify the ballots and the election. In 2010 the American Arbitration Association did that work, and they have been retained for the 2013 election. (Disclosure: This reporter was the observer for CORE in both the May 2010 election and the June 2010 runoff).


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