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South Side Community Organizer Joins Mayoral Race

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CHICAGO (CBS) - On the final day for candidates to file petitions for the February election, an Auburn-Gresham community organizer has thrown her hat in the ring for mayor.

Patrica Van Pelt-Watkins personally filed her nominating papers Monday morning at the Chicago Board of Elections.

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In a news release announcing her candidacy, Watkins cited her three decades working as a community organizer and civic leader, working to represent the interests of residents in neighborhoods around the city and in Springfield.

Watkins has served for the past 15 years as chief executive officer of the Target Area Development Corporation, a social service group in Auburn-Gresham. She led the planning to redevelop the commercial strip on 79th Street in the neighborhood, according to her release.

Watkins also raised millions in funds to expand affordable housing; served on the Advance Illinois bi-partisan education reform group with former Gov. Jim Edgar, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Bill Daley; and helped develop the “Grow Your own Teachers” program to help people of color become teachers, according to the release.

Watkins will be up against a field of at least seven candidates, including some big and powerful names. Rahm Emanuel, Danny Davis, Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico, Miguel Del Valle, and the Rev. Wilfredo de Jesus have already submitted their paperwork to run, while the Rev. James Meeks is to submit his before the end of the business day Monday.

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