Conversations with the aldermanic candidates of the 1st Ward
Topic: The one issue most pressing in your ward
The one issue most pressing in you ward is…
That’s tough. Because there are two that are neck and neck. Schools, and safety.
I come from the local school council. We’ve got some good schools that are just ready to explode. I’m so excited about them. And we have some challenged schools. I have a principals breakfast every month. All these test scores are rising. We’ve just got to keep an eye on the ball. Every other day I’m at a school, talking to the principals, meeting with students, because the ones that are doing great, they gotta stay. The ones that are just ready to explode, they could go the other way too. We need to continue to have options for our parents.
Secondly, safety is a big, big responsibility for an alderman. We’re not police, but we work so close with the police. We’ve done some great things. We’ve got a phone tree in this section of the ward with 170 people on it. Crime has been reduced dramatically through community input. Keeping the CAPS program – we’re not cutting it, it’s still going to be every month, sponsored out of this office. We have to continue. Every single crime statistic is at historic lows in the ward, except for one, which is car break-ins. That’s another thing that could jump right back up.
I have a great relationship with CeaseFire, which is an excellent organization that does gang intervention. They have a fantastic national, if not international, reputation. I need to do that. I go on drive runs, (points to framed Time-Out Chicago issue) which is what that article is about in Time-Out.
I read that.
I walked into an illegal club with a vest on and busted them. That was because I was driving around with the commander, which I do about every other weekend from 11 to 2 in the morning. I want them to see what’s coming into the office. “This spot’s getting a little hot around here.” “There are issues over here.” In this case, we were kind of lucky that they were doing the thing they shouldn’t have done, and I went in and shut them down. Very hands on. I don’t like to go downtown. I have an office down there as you know. I spend very little time down there. I’m either in this office, or in the ward.
At a local level? My experience with talking to people, which I found disappointing to hear, is a very basic thing: services. They’re not being distributed or managed in a fair manner. As you know, the ward is shaped like a backward ‘J.’ It’s very strange. But that’s no excuse for services not reaching the entire ward.
I’ve been hearing a lot as I’ve gone out, that it’s basic service. “We don’t get this. We don’t get street cleaning like we should. We don’t get the rat abatement like we should.” And that’s disheartening because that’s a basic service. That should not happen. And that’s what I’m hearing a lot. I speak about raising the bar, and I would assume the city’s taken care of those basic services, but it’s not happening.
So I would have to start with that, making sure that the services are being fairly distributed. We can’t follow a schedule. That’s what I’m talking about – retooling the ward office and rethinking the way we do things. One size doesn’t fit all. I don’t like schedules. Like, “Gee, southern part of the ward, we only go back next week because we already went last week.” But that part of the ward might have a stronger need for a service than the other part of the ward. So let’s reallocate it. Why not?
Security. Security is number one right now. We’ve gone up at least 20% more crime this year than we had last year. 20% last year than we had the year before. That’s security, right there. We’re losing jobs, and crime is rising.
How are you going to feed your family, how are you going to put a brand new pair of shoes, new pair of pants, new jacket – you have no money, you have no income, you have no job. What’s easy to do? Rob? Break into cars? Oh yeah, it’s there, and it’s getting worse.
Security’s number one. Jobs, number two. Schools, just like anything else. We need to better our schools. But that’s not number one or number two. I’m looking at number one and two right now. That’s how I feel.