“Next time a politician comes here and has a taco and thinks they’re going to win over all the blue voters, remember this,” said the activist, Troy Hernandez, an environmental scientist from Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization. He is now a member of the local Green Party and is running for office.
Other local leaders, including progressives and organizers who are similarly skeptical of mainstream Democrats, said such pessimism was unwarranted. Most voters have not followed the negotiations on Capitol Hill, they said, and Democrats still have time to pass additional legislation that fills the gaps in Mr. Biden’s budget or other areas, including voting rights or policing measures.
Jeremy Orr, an environmental lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council who focuses on Chicago and the Midwest, said Mr. Biden’s administration should be commended for its efforts on lead pipe removal, even if the funding was not as robust as initially intended. Chicago is estimated to have more than 350,000 lead pipes bringing water into homes, schools and businesses — more than any other city in the country.
“This is the first time we’ve had the administration actually step up and say, ‘We want to tackle this problem head on,’” Mr. Orr said. “But we need more than federal dollars. They need to prioritize communities that are hit the hardest, and we know where those communities are.”
Mr. García, the Democratic congressman, said it was now the job of Democrats to make the case to voters that Mr. Biden’s agenda still represents a transformative investment in their communities.
“On the housing front, significant investments will be made on vouchers and down-payment assistance for first-time home buyers, and that’s really key,” Mr. García said. “So Latinos and African Americans stand to benefit greatly from that aspect of the housing assessments that we are making.”
But while politicians measure themselves against previous administrations, voters measure politicians against their immediate needs.
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