As Election Day approaches, one local group is working to ensure the progressive values and ideals promoted by former Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders will not be for naught.
The Will County Progressives are on a mission to support the needs of voters and candidates this election season.
“Within the Democratic Party, we’re seeing a resurgence,” said Richard Rodriguez, a member of the Will County Progressives and a member of Our Revolution Illinois Chicago. “A lot of people want to be part of the Democratic Party. We’re growing as an organization.”
The work of the Will County Progressives started about two years ago, at which point Sanders’ primary campaign run ended.
Members of the group wanted to continue their effort to reclaim Democracy for the working people by harnessing the energy of the movement created within the party.
The group operates as an official affiliate of Our Revolution, which is the national-level organization that acts as a hub for progressives.
Since the 2016 election, the Will County Progressives have been working to engage people in different ways, whether it’s knocking on doors, supporting candidate fundraisers or encouraging people to get out and vote.
“What’s keeping the organization going is more people are conscious of how important politics is and its impact to their daily lives,” Rodriguez said. “I think people are paying closer attention now than they had been before.”
The Will County Progressives currently has a membership of nearly 100 people. In addition, the group has a social media following of more than 1,000.
Rodriguez said people, who weren’t typically interested in politics, are demonstrating a heightened desire to get involved.
Among the issues the Will County Progressives aim to focus on are income inequality, healthcare and the environment.
The group is not only looking to back changes locally, but also nationally.
Suzanna Ibarra, chairwoman for the Will County Progressives, acknowledged there are different shades of blue that make up the Democratic Party and negated the idea that any division exists.
“It’s like a family,” she said.
Ibarra said she believes all Democrats will prevail in the Nov. 6 election.
“I feel because of what’s happening in D.C., they’re definitely going to win,” she said. “This is the election where people are done and tired of sitting on the sidelines.”