Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Tuesday March 18th, 2014, 7:47pm

Guzzardi Makes Final Pitch To Voters In 39th District

Just hours before the polls closed Tuesday evening, 39th District Democratic candidate Will Guzzardi greeted public transit commuters in Logan Square in a final attempt to get more people to vote.

"We're getting close to the end here, so it's the final push," Guzzardi told reporters outside the California Blue Line rail station shortly after 4:30 p.m. The polls close at 7 p.m. tonight.

"We've got hundreds of people out right now on doors getting voters out to the polls making sure we win this thing," he said.

Guzzardi, a writer and community activist, is challenging long-time incumbent  State Rep. Toni Berrios (D-Chicago) in the Democratic primary race for Illinois' 39th District. This is Guzzardi's second primary battle against Berrios. In the 2012 election, Guzzardi fell just 125 votes shy of unseating Berrios, the daughter of powerful Cook County assessor and county Democratic Party chairman Joe Berrios.

On Tuesday, Guzzardi sported a pin on his jacket that read "125" to serve as a "little reminder to all of us that every single vote really does count."
"We learned a lot of lessons from 2012, and I think this is a terrific opportunity for us to improve our campaign, also to really make some meaningful and progressive change down in Springfield," he added.
The 39th state representative district, which has a majority Latino population, is located on Chicago's Northwest Side and includes parts of Belmont Cragin, Humboldt Park, Logan Square and Portage Park.
"My opponent has had 12 years to be in Springfield representing this community, and what we've seen [is] ...  she's a part of [the] establishment that's running the show that has not been working for our neighbors," Guzzardi said. "So I think we have a great opportunity in these last couple of hours to get folks out to the polls and really demand some new and better leadership."
A representative from Berrios' campaign could not be reached by deadline.
Voter turnout throughout Tuesday has been low, but Guzzardi said it is "right in line with what we we're expecting it to be." He noted that more than 1,000 people have already cast their ballots in the district as part of early voting. 
Chicago Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) joined Guzzardi in the afternoon to shake hands with commuters at the rail station, urging them to get to the polls. 
"Will represents the new generation of transparency, progressive values, which include inclusiveness," the alderman said. "The Democratic Party has been not that inclusive. I think the low voter turnout is symbolic of what's happening in this state, in this city. The people become so disenchanted and Will can make the difference. He's willing to stand up, rollup his sleeves and try to make a difference for all of us."    
Guzzardi said some voters in the district had problems casting their ballots throughout the day.
Specifically, he said one polling site at Stan Mansion, located at 2408 N Kedzie Ave., did not open until about 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m.
"We have worked to get that polling place get open an extra hour tonight, so it won't close until 8 p.m., which is very good in making sure that every voter gets a chance to get out there and cast their ballot," he said. 
Earlier in the afternoon, Progress Illinois checked in with voters at various polling sites in the 39th District.
Mary Haley, 67, a 35-year resident of the 31st Ward and a former community activist, said she voted for Guzzardi because "some changes need to be made, something fresh."
"Not this is a relative of mine, and therefore they might be getting a break," Haley said outside Ken-Well Park, the polling site for Precinct 26, which reported having just 66 ballots cast as of 4 p.m.
Berrios' campaign has "really, really ticked me off," she added.
"It's almost like they've got to buy as much as they can, and it almost makes me want to go for the underdog, because why are you trying so hard," she asked, referring to Berrios. "If you're so good, you're record should speak for itself. You shouldn't have to buy all the campaigns."
Haley added that she has been inundated with robo calls from Berrios' campaign.
"I didn't get that from the Guzzardi side at all," she said. "They called once and urged me to vote and get out early."
Another 31st Ward resident who supports Guzzardi told Progress Illinois that she also received numerous phone calls from Berrios' supporters. Mazurka Wojciechowska, 57, said the phone calls did not sway her to vote for the long-time incumbent.
"Toni Berrios is the daughter of Assessor Joe Berrios, and Joe Berrios has hired a lot of his relatives," she said outside a 31st Ward polling site at John Barry Elementary School, located at 2828 N. Kilbourn Ave. 
"(Joe Berrios) also claims that it is his right to do so, and I do not feel that it's right that one family should have so much influence in city government and county government, and that is why I will not vote for anyone named Berrios,"  Wojciechowska stressed.
Meanwhile, Wojciechowska, who has a Guzzardi sign in her home window, said a person attempted to stick a Berrios' sign in her private yard a few days ago without her permission. 
"My next door neighbor saw that ... [and] said, 'Do you have permission to put that sign up,' and the person who was doing it said, 'Yes, they did have permission,'" she told Progress Illinois. "My neighbor wouldn't let them put the sign in the yard. He prevented it."
Progress Illinois will be at Guzzardi's election night event, set to be held at the Logan Square Auditorium. This evening, we will provide updates from Guzzardi's election headquarters as well as full coverage of the results in the 39th District.


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