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Will Guzzardi beats back machine-backed Toni Berrios in 39th Illinois House race

Former journalist and Ivy-Leaguer, Will Guzzardi (right), 26, beat 6-term incumbent Maria “Toni” Berrios (left) for legislative control of the 39th district.
Former journalist and Ivy-Leaguer, Will Guzzardi (right), 26, beat 6-term incumbent Maria “Toni” Berrios (left) for legislative control of the 39th district.
Credits: Berrios campaign (left) and Guzzardi campaign (right)

Rep. Maria Antonia "Toni" Berrios, the daughter of Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios, was defeated tonight in the Democratic primary by Will Guzzardi, a community activist and currently is the Head Writer for the Office of College Admissions at the University of Chicago. The race was for the Democratic nomination for the 39th Illinois House district.

Will Guzzardi had almost 60 percent of the vote and Berrios slightly less than 41 percent of the vote, with 92 percent of the votes counted. "We said with one voice that every child deserves access to a public education," said Guzzardi in his victory speech. The remark was a bow to the Chicago Teachers Union and President Karen Lewis. The CTU donated $11,000 to Guzzardi and the victory will send a strong message to those that voted against the interests of organized labor.

Guzzardi avenged his very narrow loss in 2012 by fewer than 150 votes to Berrios. Guzzardi ran a classic "grassroots" campaign, engaging voters everywhere he went.

Berrios not only had the help of her father Joe Berrios, but also had the help and financial support of House Speaker Michael Madigan, the state party chairman.

Making the victory all the sweeter for Guzzardi and his supporters.

The 39th Illinois House district covers parts of Northwest Chicago, including Logan Square, Avondale, Portage Park and Humboldt Park.

Guzzardi, a Brown University graduate, lives in Logan Square and works in the college admissions office at the University of Chicago. He's told several publications that the name recognition he's gained from the 2012 run and a larger volunteer base would help turn the tide in his favor.

Berrios had a big target on her back because of her vote for pension reform, a vote that organized labor opposed, most especially public sector unions.

Also supporting Guzzardi was Democracy for America and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. In addition, he had the support from the SEIU Healthcare of Illinois/Indiana and the Fraternal Police Lodge Local 7. Guzzardi also has the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. Chicago Alds. Joe Moreno (1st), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and John Arena (45th) also threw their weight behind Guzzardi.



NBC 5 News - AP Projects Will Guzzardi for 39th District

Chicago Sun Times - Guzzardi opens up big lead early against Berrios in 39th House race


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