Profiles on the aldermanic candidates in the 1st and 32nd Wards
With the municipal elections less than a week away (Tuesday, February 22), I am pleased to release my series of People with Passion interviews with the seven aldermanic candidates in the 1st and 32nd Wards, along with parallel Q&A material, all of which can be found at Our Urban Times. Below are excerpts to all of the interviews, along with links to more good coverage of the races in these two wards. The Q&A sections can be found here.
PEOPLE WITH PASSION, the candidate series: 1st Ward
EXCERPT: Daley says, “I’m looking for an alderman. You want to be an alderman, raise your hand.” I raise my hand. I was one of the ninety that submitted my name. I was one of sixty that qualified. I was one of five at the end of the day when the mayor made his choice. And I thought that everybody’s thinking, “Wow, this is a fair, honest mayor’s attempt to find an alderman.” Well, if you go back and look at one of Moreno’s sites, in his site he says that he was handpicked and sent to the mayor for the mayor to select him to make him the next alderman. Totally opposite of what the mayor said: “I’m looking for someone.” He’s admitting he was handpicked and hand-delivered. Manny Flores took him to the mayor and said, “This guy wants to succeed me.”
EXCERPT: I feel that aldermen nowadays, they’re not holding our sister agencies accountable. I would want an assessment. “This school doesn’t have a gym, doesn’t have a music program, doesn’t have an arts program because of budget problems.” I feel worn out sometimes hearing what we’ve lost, what we don’t have. “We don’t have the money.” You know what? Let’s start focusing on what we have left. I want those kids to have music. They can learn math through music. There’s a lot of reasons why we need those programs. And it’s horrible to see that they’re not getting it.
EXCERPT: You can’t just wake up one day and say, “Okay, I want to run for office.” With few exceptions, you’re not going to be successful, and I don’t think it’s the best for our community. Whether you were raised there or not, that doesn’t matter. But in your tenure in the community, what have you done on a community-based level, a non-for-profit level, to help people, to organize – whether it’s around school issues like I talked about, the local school council, or other neighborhood issues, so that when you do run, you’ve got that resume. I think we’ve got a lot of candidates who say, “I’ve been part of the community for forty years.” Well what have you done in the last ten years? Show me some tangible results of what you’ve done. I easily did that to the mayor. I have a great organization of over a 150 people. I collected the most signatures of any alderman in the whole city. And that’s not just because of me. That’s because of the reputation that I’ve had with a lot of these community groups.
PEOPLE WITH PASSION, the candidate series: 32nd Ward
EXCERPT: It’s a big ward. You’re talking from Chicago Ave. all the way up to Addison Ave., and Western Ave. all the way to Sheffield. It’s gerrymandered and cut in a very unique and special way (laughs), but you need to think creatively on “How do we provide service?” and “How do we engage people all throughout the ward?” If you’re focused on nothing but neighborhood groups as your sole source of information and feedback from the community, it’s a very small, limited number of people that can actually attend and be involved in these things. You won’t have the full picture.
EXCERPT: Since I was in high school, I was always involved in different groups, whether it was student council, or being president of an organization. Same thing with my mother and people in my family. They always got involved. My mother’s side was incredibly involved in the Italian community in Chicago. Incredibly. The aunt that was the principal, she didn’t have a family, she never got married. Her whole life was education and the Italian community. That’s it. You got involved and you did things. You got involved in your community. You had a civic obligation. It’s part of my indoctrination growing up.
EXCERPT: The job of alderman is front lines to the community. Any question a resident in the community has about government – if you have an effective alderman – they should know his name and they should know, “I should go to him.” It might be about something that has nothing to do with the purview of the alderman’s office, but a good alderman’s gonna direct them to where they can find their answer. That works on the service side for residents. It works on the service side for businesses. Constituent services is the most important thing.
EXCERPT: I always believe that if you have the right person in office, even if you’re fighting up hill the whole way, you can have little successes that will turn into bigger things. I felt the only way to really get in was to get into the city council here and say, “We have to get inside the system in Chicago to really make that change.” That’s the only way to do it.