Tara Stamps says she's the independent voice for the 37th Ward

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By Reema Amin

Austin Talks

Last summer, Tara Stamps got a letter from a clerk who worked at Franklin Fine Arts Center when Stamps was a 7th grader there years ago.

June Davis' handwritten note reminisced about a strike Stamps had organized in Franklin's cafeteria when she was 11 or 12.

"She recalled I had a strike because the lunches sucked, which they did," said Stamps, now a 46-year-old CPS teacher who teaches 5th grade.

School staff shut down the pre-teen protest after a couple days, but it ended with better, warmer food, according to Stamps.

"(Davis) was tickled that at such a young age, I had the fire and defiance," Stamps said.

Davis used the anecdote to explain why Stamps should run for 37th Ward alderman. Stamps, who had been contemplating a run, called the woman's note the "vote of confidence" she needed.

It's confidence that has sustained Stamps through the Feb. 24th election and now to the April 7th runoff, the first Ald. Emma Mitts has faced in her 15 years on the Chicago City Council.

Mitts received at least 58 percent of the vote in her past three elections. But this time, 49 percent of voters chose her – just shy of the 50.1 percent needed to win outright.

Stamps, who garnered 32 percent of the vote in February, has raised more than $221,000 since her campaign officially launched last summer, state election records show. Nearly $57,000 of that is from the Chicago Teachers Union, while another $72,000 has come from the healthcare branch of theService Employees International Union.

This support has caused some to question whether Stamps would be a union puppet; in turn, she has criticized Mitts for being a rubber stamp for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The alderman voted 97 percent of the time with the mayor from 2011 to 2014, according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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