The West Side finally got its first citywide elected official after state Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin (10th) beat Ameya Pawar, a former alderman, 59 percent to 41 percent, to become city treasurer.
Conyears-Ervin, the wife of Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), was buoyed to victory by a raft of endorsements from dozens of elected officials and major unions, including the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 73, among many others.
She also leveraged the momentum of the 2018 midterm elections, in which Democrats — fueled by a backlash against President Donald Trump and the #MeToo movement — rode a ‘blue wave’ into local, state and federal offices across the country. Many of those new elected officials are women.
On the campaign trail, Conyears-Ervin, 42, emphasized her personal biography. She and her two sisters were raised by a single mother who worked on an assembly line and was a proud union member.
Conyears-Ervin, who has a degree in finance and an MBA, also touted her credentials and her role as a working mother, arguing that she’ll treat the city’s finances with the same careful attention to detail that she treats her family’s finances.
In addition to union endorsements, she also won the support of Emily’s List, the political action committee that helps elected Democratic female candidates.
During her election night speech, Conyears-Ervin said that her campaign started with a push from Westside Black Elected Officials, which is chaired by Ald. Emma Mitts (37th). Congressman Danny K. Davis, the organization’s senior-most member, was among the many powerful politicians who endorsed the Conyears-Ervin. She also had the support of Secretary of State Jesse White, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush (1st) and Robin Kelly (2nd).
“Please know that this young lady born in Englewood, raised on the West Side of Chicago by this single mother of three girls knows what it means to struggle,” Conyears-Ervin said to her supporters on April 2.
“She knows what it means for working families to have to fight for a livable wage,” she said. “I do not take this role lightly. I plan, as the next city treasurer of Chicago, to be the best treasurer that the city has ever seen. I want you to hold me accountable.”
The incoming city treasurer said that she plans to “watch taxpayers’ dollars and be a fiscal watchdog,” adding that she’ll “hold financial institutions who have our money accountable.”