Tag: Ike Carothers

28-year-old Proviso West Alum Campaigning to Become a Chicago Alderman

Screenshot 2014-10-23 at 9.23.43 PMMaurice J. Robinson outside of the Genesis Center in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. Photo by Michael Romain for the Village Free Press.

Monday, October 27, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

CHICAGO | Maurice J. Robinson, 28, is so confident about becoming the next 29th Ward alderman that he uses the future tense to talk about one of his major campaign platforms.

“When I win, the first thing I would address is the community piece — being a village again,” he said. “Yes, we want to bring economic development and stability to the community, but until we can come together as a community, as a village, we can’t talk about housing, education, any of that.”

The Proviso West alum’s latest act as a politician may seem surprising to those who remember Robinson from his days in high school, which he recalls as a blur of football games and freestyle sessions in the hallways. A self-proclaimed autodidact — he said he taught himself computer code and was on Calculus by the time he was in the fifth grade — Robinson was less interested in school than he was in education itself.

“I went to 11 different schools before eighth grade and two high schools — Lane Tech and Proviso West,” he said during an interview conducted one recent Tuesday afternoon in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.

After graduating, he kept performing, eventually also veering into producing, acting and promoting hip-hop shows. He noted that his experience as a promoter taught him consistency.

“If I put on two shows in a row that flopped, I was out of there,” he said.

But running almost parallel to his love of music was his passion for politics and social issues, Robinson noted.

Growing up on Chicago’s West Side, he came of age in the shadows of figures such as Isaac “Ike” Carothers, Lance Tyson and William “Dock” Walls, the former two on whose campaigns he volunteered.

“I’ve always been involved in politics in one way or another,” Robinson said. “I lived around the block from [29th Ward Alderman] Sam Burrell’s office. I watched how that went down when I was a young guy.”

Even as he was touring and promoting, Robinson mentioned that he would often pepper his work with social commentary and would also throw educational events.

For six seasons, he toured with the R.ED.I Arts and Education Foundation, an organization that integrates live entertainment shows with public awareness campaigns about a range of social issues, such bullying, addiction and teen pregnancy.

On his campaign website, Robinson said that the program changed his life. After volunteering on local and state campaigns, he became vice president of A & R for Kumar Management. Several years ago, he founded Underground360 — Musicians Chamber of Commerce, “which focuses on the socioeconomic impact of art to various communities.”

Right now, he believes that his twin passions for the arts and politics are coming full circle. He’s currently putting the connections and resources he’s gained from both arenas into his campaign to unseat the incumbent, Ald. Deborah Graham.



His core campaign team comprises what he calls his ‘Fantastic Four’ — Tyler White, Justin Woods, Sonya Patton and Delshana Mims — along with Tamaira Bell, his campaign manager. All are in their twenties. A network of volunteers plucked from his population of supporters rounds out his campaign apparatus.

“There are a lot of people who want to see me win,” he said. “I’m a community guy first.”

Robinson noted that he’s financing his campaign, in part, with personal funds he accumulated while working in the entertainment industry, a sector from which he says he’s still adjusting.

“I come from the art industry, I am not the most tactful person,” he admitted “In that business, because its so faced pace, everything is straight and to the point,” he said.

He also believes that there’s a distinct generation gap that separates his young, politically attuned cohorts and their most immediate predecessors.

“My generation is definitely more impatient,” he said. “We don’t really like the talking. For us, it’s what’s the game plan.”

If all goes according to his wishes, the self-avowed student of economic development strategies may get the chance to implement his own. He threw out a litany of proposals, such as stabilizing the housing market in his ward and increasing youth participation in the governing process.

“That’s why I’m running,” he said. “I want to be the change I want to see.” VFP

To find out more about Robinson’s campaign, click here

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Real Quick Politics: Live Blogging Election Night 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 || By Michael Romain

7:55pm – Maya del Sol, Oak Park, IL 

Oak Park Democrats are here in force. State Senator Don Harmon (D-39th), whose district now covers a sliver of Maywood’s north side, is here; as is State Rep. Camille Lilly (D-78th). As of yet, no sighting of Blake Sercye, candidate for First District Cook County Commissioner. Presently, with 55 of 92 suburbanprecincts reported, Sercye is leading the field of five in the suburbs with 41 percent of the vote. Richard Boykin currently has 21 percent; Brenda Smith has 15 percent; Isaac “Ike” Carothers has 11 percent; and Ronald Lawless has 4 percent (percentages are rounded). Click here for up-to-date results.

While here, I had the opportunity to speak with Sen. Harmon, whose been representing the 39th district since 2003. Sen. Harmon, who faces Democratic challenger Bob Galhotra, has a commanding lead, with at least 83 percent of the vote (72 of 88 precincts reported).

Mr. Harmon on representing a portion of Maywood:

Don Harmon
Sen. Don Harmon

“Maywood’s new to my district. For the first ten years in the General Assembly, I didn’t have Maywood. But municipal districts are all artificial. We’re all neighbors and we rise and fall together.” 

8:20pm – Maya del Sol, Oak Park, IL

Blake Sercye just arrived. Room is filling up. A news crew is here, but which station I don’t know. Other election returns: Current Democratic Committeewoman Karen Yarbrough leads challenger James “Papa” Brewer 72 percent to 28 percent. Governor Pat Quinn and Paul Vallas lead Democratic challengers Tio Hardiman and Brunell Donald 80 percent to 20 percent (percentages rounded). Sidenote: Mr. Hardiman’s has a satellite campaign office inside of Maywood’s Global Business Center, along with commissioner candidate Ronald Lawless. More election results here.

9:07 pm- Carleton of Oak Park, Grand Ballroom, Oak Park, IL

Richard Boykin campaign headquarters very lively. Michael Jackson blaring over the speakers. No sign yet of Mr. Boykin. Mostly volunteers present. I encountered candidate for Cook County Subcircuit Judge (11th District) Gina Crumble. District-wide returns have Boykin leading Mr. Sercye by about 400 votes. For more in-depth election coverage, visit oakpark.com.

9:26pm- Carleton of Oak Park, Grand Ballroom, Oak Park, IL

Raw numbers from Boykin campaign volunteer:

  • Boykin: 5822
  • Sercye: 5331
  • Carothers: 4221

Most precincts that have yet to report are in the City of Chicago.

9:41pm —  Carleton of Oak Park, Grand Ballroom, Oak Park, IL

The room erupted in applause during entrance of Rep. Danny K. Davis. It’s being murmured that Mr. Boykins has just been declared the winner. VFP

Real Quick Politics: As 1st Dist. Commissioner’s Race Heats Up, Boykin Campaign Claims 20-Point Lead, Sercye Lands Another Major Endorsement

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 || By Michael Romain

As early voting in the 2014 Illinois Primary Elections gets underway, the down-ballot, but most intriguing, Democratic race to replace First District Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins is heating up. Today, the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Early & Often blog reported that an internal poll conducted by the campaign of Richard Boykin, the attorney and former chief-of-staff for Congressman Danny K. Davis, showed Mr. Boykin with a 20-point lead. The Early & Often post states that the poll’s numbers “show an incredible surge by Boykin since January and a steep drop by former Chicago Ald. Ike Carothers.”

Even more interesting: “The poll also shows that despite Blake Sercye’s high-profile endorsements — including from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Secretary Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — he is in fourth place, behind Carothers and activist Brenda Smith. Ron Lawless is also running in the crowded March 18th primary.”

Just yesterday, Karecki broke the news that Sercye had picked up the endorsement of yet another Democratic big whig–Illinois Secretary of State Jessie White–in a move that Karecki claimed is a “snub” to Congressman Davis.

According to the posting, White said of Sercye:

“Blake Sercye is from our neighborhoods and has exhibited the personal resolve and perseverance to overcome so many of life’s obstacles. He is a natural leader and good man who will serve with integrity, honor and commitment.”

The Boykin poll, which surveyed 400 likely general election voters from February 25 to February 27, was conducted by Washington, D.C.-based GBA Strategies and shows Boykin in the lead with 34 percent of likely voters, “Carothers with 15, Smith with 13 and Sercye with 10. The survey, however, shows 23 percent undecided, meaning there is some room even with less than three weeks to go,” wrote Karecki, who neglected to mention Ronald Lawless’s 5 percent. She also didn’t mention the poll’s margin of error, nor its methods for collecting that data (i.e., where the survey was concentrated; whether it was conducted via land-line or wireless phones, or over the internet; etc.–all factors that may contribute to the survey’s overall accuracy).

On February 24, Richard Boykin’s Twitter feed announced that Capital Fax released a poll that morning that had his campaign up by just 5 points. Representatives from the Boykin campaign could not be reached for comment.

A confidential source within the Sercye campaign said that the Boykin poll doesn’t reflect the bounce that they expect from the recent succession of high-profile endorsements that have come their way.

“The survey was done before any of our main endorsements and before we even sent out a single mail piece. I think the momentum looks like its leaning our way more than his way and this looks like an effort on the part of Boykin to appeal to democratic voters,” the source said. “We’re not putting much weight into [the Boykin poll]. We know we have the momentum.”

Ronald Lawless dismissed the survey much more explicitly.

“It’s an internal poll, its his poll, he needs that poll because he know he’s falling,” Lawless said. “He needs to try to sale to people that he is the front-runner. We don’t know what kind of questions were asked, how leading they were. It’s a useless poll. It’s irrelevant.

“What he needs to address are more important issues other than polls like the homeowner exemption issue. He needs to do a poll asking voters what they would do about him having more than one homeowner exemption and whether or not they would vote for him then,” Lawless said.

“The real poll will be on March 18th–the people’s poll.”

A representative for the Carothers campaign said that he hadn’t looked at the poll closely enough to form a strong opinion. The campaign of Brenda Smith could not be reached for comment.


Regardless of the polling minutiae, however, the Boykin campaign seems buoyed by its own momentum, with the candidate holding press conferences throughout the first district at a rapid-fire rate. Last month, on February 20, the Boykin campaign held a press conference with various west suburban government, community and faith leaders to highlight the County’s Land Bank program and to “appropriate uses for vacant properties located on Chicago’s West Side and West suburban communities.”

And a week later, on the February 27, he issued a press release “calling for community justice centers to serve Proviso Township and Garfield Park communities.”

“In serving the First District as Cook County Commissioner, I will strongly advocate for the resources necessary to develop two community justice centers for the Proviso Township and Austin,” Boykin said. “Too often, Cook County residents lack access to vital legal resources. The creation of these centers would fill that void.” VFP