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Reactions to election results vary across the city

[This story was written by Nina Ruff and reported by Ridvan Bolgi, Eric Henry, Samantha Stahl, Jaclyn Torrento, Ao Shen, David Woods and Melty Zhang.]

PHOTO courtesy: Samantha Stahl & Melty Zhang
Signs of encouragement outside Trump Tower                     PHOTO courtesy: Samantha Stahl & Melty Zhang

From City Hall, where aldermen were apprehensive, to the heavily Latino community in Pilsen, where residents were clinging to their faith, to Millennium Park where international visitors were speechless, the city is reeling with reaction from what has been a rollercoaster of an election.

Late into the night, many networks pronounced Donald Trump the victor over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with 279 of 538 electoral votes and 48 percent of the popular vote.

At City Hall, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was appeared stunned by the results of the presidential election, gave an important pep talk to aldermen and Chicagoans who “went to bed despondent.”

“Something happened last night,” Emanuel said. “A lot of people in the city of Chicago woke up despondent, went to sleep that way wondering whether this country still has them, their future and their children’s future at heart.”

The mayor didn’t harp on the state of the presidency but decided to leave Chicagoans with a message of hope for the state of Illinois.

“I want to speak to that despondency because I saw the first Hispanic woman elected statewide in Illinois on her own who is the daughter of an immigrant,” Emanuel said. “And I saw in her mother’s eyes the pride and the reward for all of the sacrifice and struggle that she made in coming to America not just a place, but a set of ideas and a set of values and that was rewarded.”

Emanuel was referring to the election of Chicago Clerk Susana Mendoza to state comptroller. , Mendoza defeated her Republican opponent, incumbent Leslie Munger despite being outspent.

While Emanuel tried to point out some hope for Democrats in the otherwise dismal national results, aldermen were less optimistic.

“One of the concerns that I have is the removal of men– working-age men from medical insurance,” said Ald. Jason Ervin (28th). “Whereas they have it now, you know, what would that mean for lifespan and other issues?”

Several aldermen, reflecting on Trump’s less than spotless campaign, expressed uncertainty about the road ahead.

“It’s a mixed bag,” said Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), “Nobody really knows what he’s going to do because his [Donald Trump] whole campaign appears to be a lot of contradictions.”

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said the results of the election came as a shock. “Based on polling, we thought that Hillary had a comfortable lead,” Beale said. Beale added that the polling did not take into account unlikely votes, making the difference in the election.

While Beale said the presidency does not make a huge impact on the quality of life in his community in the 9th Ward, the alderman showed concern for the reaction of communities between one another.

A mural in Pilsen PHOTO courtesy: Nina Ruff
A mural in Pilsen
PHOTO courtesy: Nina Ruff

Just outside of City Hall, Wallace “Gator” Bradley, president of United In Peace, Inc. and former Chicago gang member, shared his concern over the newly elected president.

“It’s a new day. The man ain’t qualified and has never had a political office,” said Bradley.

Bradley went on to share his concerns for future generations. “All I can say is I worry about my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren,” Bradley said. “I know the hate my parents and grandparents faced to get the right to vote and he will erase all of those gains.”

Still, some Chicago residents were pleased with election results. George Blakemore, a political activist and staple in city hall was happy that Trump won.

“I believed he could create new business and he could bring new reforms, because Trump comes from a rich, wealthy family; he’s businessman but not political head,” Blakemore said.

Just down the street, the Chicago Board of Trade could feel the effects of the election on the floor as stocks began to plunge from the very start of the election results. A woman who works inside the exchange floor said the floor was buzzing this morning.

“Not even people on the floor, not even media thought this would happen. It sounds like a riot,” said the woman who said her employer would not allow her to use her name.

A sense of anxiety and finality filled the air in the majority Hispanic neighborhood of Pilsen on Wednesday after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Paul Guizar has lived in Pilsen for 34 years as an undocumented resident, and is leaning on his faith to get him through the uncertainty.

“My family and I have a strong Christian background and that’s going to get us through,” Guizar said. Guizar owns a Vintage Thrift Store in Pilsen and was critical of Trump.

“I think he’s stupid and will only last four years,” Guizar said.

Pilsen Vintage & Thrift store, run by Paul Guizar PHOTO courtesy: Nina Ruff
Pilsen Vintage & Thrift store, run by Paul Guizar
PHOTO courtesy: Nina Ruff

George Medina, a paralegal at a Pilsen law office that specializes in immigration cases, agreed that faith is key during this time. “Me as a religious individual, I feel that God’s will was done. It’s tough but whoever’s there, I feel like we should back them up,” Medina said.  

“The repercussions of this are very hard to project, but we’re either going to unite or divide,” said Daniel Bahena. Bahena is an openly gay bartender who’s watched last night’s results very closely. “I’m very disappointed, but at the same time we have to come together and unite, this is either going to unite or divide us,” Bahena said.

The atmosphere in Millennium Park was just as contemplative. A day after the presidential election, people of Chicago don’t know how to feel.

Being dual-citizens from Canada, Weijia Zhang and Derek Lennox, haven’t processed everything yet.

“From the beginning, we didn’t have two great candidates to choose from,” Lennox said. “Trump’s campaign was shock and awe.”

Lennox said that during his victory speech, Trump moderated his tone. Lennox hopes Trump comes back to reality and to a “human level of government.”

“I think the more important thing is the fact that the House and the Senate could be powerful for the Republicans who are demanding change,” Lennox said. “That might center him a bit because they won’t stand with his abuse.”

Zhang said people voted for Trump because they wanted a change.

“There’s no way he can take us back in time,” Zhang said. “People want change, but they don’t want to go back to where Trump wants to take us, like in 1950s, when there were stronger racial tensions”

Zhang said the biggest challenge is to get the nation unified, for people to get together.

“If they can get that straight, it will take the country to where it needs to go or wants to go. It’s going take it somewhere,” Zhang said.

Associated Press contributed to this story.


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