Improving safety throughout our community has been my number one priority as Alderman. Working together in partnership with neighbors, business owners, block clubs, and the police we have vastly reduced crime in our neighborhood. I have worked to add Police foot patrol officers on Thorndale, Bryn Mawr, Argyle, Clark, and Devon, which has added safety to these streets and the surrounding area. We have effectively addressed problem buildings and businesses, supported crime victims through court advocacy, and come together each summer for many community safety events like CAPS Night Out, an evening centered around recreational activities where youth and Police co-participate to build personal relationships and trust. Our safety improvements have also been achieved by the many after school, mentoring, and employment programs I have brought to our Ward to support our youth, giving them a positive alternative to gangs and drugs. As a City it is critical that every community realizes the safety improvements we have seen and that we re-establish trust between residents and the Chicago Police. I am sponsor of the GAPA ordinance, that creates civilian oversight of CPD and gives the community an important role in the direction of policing in Chicago. As a State Representative, I lead the efforts to pass control measures to keep illegal guns off our streets, including legislation Closing the Gunshow Loophole in Illinois.
Our small businesses are vital to the growth and vitality of our diverse community. As Alderman, I have worked hard to support our many local small businesses and attracted many new businesses to the ward by touring vacant storefronts with potential businesses, hosting ward tours, and assisting property owners seeking new tenants. Over the last 8 years we have brought in over 150 new businesses, adding vibrancy and jobs throughout our neighborhood. Our efforts have led to a renaissance of Broadway, in the heart of the 48th Ward. I have worked closely with business leaders and the Chambers of Commerce in Andersonville, Edgewater, and Uptown to support our businesses through economic ups and downs. My staff and I have worked to ensure that the City departments are assisting and supporting our businesses. I will continue to be a strong advocate for our small business community and will work to bring in additional businesses that serve our neighborhood well. Additionally, I will work to expand economic growth and jobs beyond downtown to communities on the South and West side of Chicago.
Our schools are the backbone of our neighborhood. Together with parents, principals, and teachers we have made our schools some of the best in the city, giving our students the social and educational foundation to succeed in life.
As Alderman and previously as State Representative, I have consistently fought for funding for our local schools. I have been able to secure funding to grow educational and after school programs, and provide critical capital improvements to our schools, including $13 million dollars to renovate Senn High School, , the renovation of the Swift Auditorium,and new playground and turf field at Peirce. I have brought our local grade schools together to work with Senn High School to create a cohesive educational network that supports our school children from Pre-school to College. I have led efforts to expand the IB (International Baccalaureate) program at Peirce and Senn HS, and worked to have Loyola University support and partner with Senn and our local grade schools. I will continue to support the positive growth of our schools and will work to expand early education programs in our community. I believe that the Chicago Board of Education needs better transparency and accountability and I support an elected school board, that includes some members appointed by the Mayor and approved by City Council.
Quality and reliable public transportation is critical to the residents’ quality of life our community. As Alderman and previously State Representative, I have led efforts to secure funding to improve the CTA Red line and bus service. I fought for funding to renovate the El stations at Granville, Thorndale, Berwyn and Argyle. I allocated 10 million dollars for a new Bryn Mawr station and worked with City, State, and Federal officials to develop and fund the CTA Red-Purple Modernization Project. The RPM project will transform the Red line in our neighborhood by building new stations at Bryn Mawr, Berwyn, Argyle and Lawrence and renovating the rail embankment to provide better service for years to come. My staff and I are working with the CTA and community stakeholders to address the community impacts of this construction project. This project will lead to future economic and housing growth along Broadway. As a State Representative, I secured funding for the new Metra station that will be built at Peterson and Ravenswood, and will provide another public transportation option for our neighbors.
As a lifelong resident of Edgewater, a father of three, and myself a product of Park District programs in my youth, I know the importance of the parks in our community. For over 20 years I have worked to make the Broadway Armory Park, the vital recreational center it has become. I secured funding to renovate the Armory, brought in the gymnastic program, early childhood center, and senior citizen center. I worked with the Park District to expand programs for all ages at the Armory and spearheaded the creation of the new Teen Center, in addition to helping secure a theatre space and a teaching kitchen, which are both occupied by local non-profits. As Alderman I have supported the renovation of the Senn Park playlot, Cedar playlot, D’elia playlot, Cochran Playlot, Bryn Mawr playlot, and the creation of the new lakefront dog park. I worked to bring the Junior Guard lifeguard program to Osterman Beach and new Park District staffing to Senn High School. Over the last 8 years we have vastly improved the infrastructure in our community repaving streets, adding new lighting, new bike lanes and pedestrian safety measures like speed indicator cameras on Broadway and Sheridan, all designed to make our community safe, livable and walkable. I led the effort to build the new Argyle streetscape, the first shared street in Chicago, to promote walkability, safety and vibrancy.
Investing in the youth of our community has been a priority for me and has provided critical support to many of our local youth. I helped bring the BAM (Becoming A Man) mentoring program to Senn High School and Goudy, Swift, and McCutcheon grade schools. Recently, I was able to support the WOW(Working on Womanhood) coming to Senn to help mentor young women. I have supported the growth of youth programs at the McCormick Boys and Girls club and the Edgewater Kids United partnership with Sacred Heart School. As Alderman, I have led efforts to expand employment, after school and art programs throughout our ward and created a 48th Ward Youth Advisory Council to give me feedback on issues affecting young people in our community. I am deeply committed to ensuring that every youth in our community has access to these empowering programs.
Chicagoans deserve an honest, transparent and ethical City government that is free of corruption. I am a full time Alderman and hold myself and my staff to the highest ethical standards. As a State Representative, I fought to enact campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of money in our campaigns and government decision making. As Alderman, I supported the City Inspector General’s ability to investigate the City Council and will fight to ensure the office can investigate and review Council committees and programs. I support legislation banning outside income for Alderman and further transparency on council voting and decision making.
Lake Michigan is our greatest natural resource and I have worked for many years to ensure the cleanliness and conservation the Lake. As a State Representative, I passed legislation adding Illinois to the Great Lakes Compact, which ensures that all of the States and Provinces bordering the Great Lakes work in unison on preservation and conservation of the Lake water. Each year with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, I sponsor a beach clean up the activates many locals residents and youth who help clean our beaches. Over the last few years, working closely with the Edgewater Environmental Sustainablilty Project and block clubs, I have allocated menu funding to plant 150 trees a year throughout our ward. Each year I sponsor recycling events for our residents. I will be working with my colleagues to reestablish the City Department of Environment to ensure the City is more engaged on environmental issues and fighting negative policies coming out of the Trump Whitehouse.
As your Alderman I have focused on being accessible and responsive to you and residents of the 48th Ward. I want you to know the issues that my staff and I are working on, and I want to make sure that decisions that I make on behalf of our community are based on the feedback and priorities I get from you. Throughout the year I host community meetings, attend block club meetings and sponsor neighborhood events where I hear directly from you and your neighbors about issues that you care about. Your direct feedback has helped me as your Alderman and helped our community. Each week for the last 8 years I have sent out a Weekly Newsletter that has kept the community informed about issues in the community or at City Hall, and shared information about new programs and businesses in our community. The newsletter has been instrumental in sharing important information with you and making our busy neighborhood feel a little closer. On bigger issues like zoning changes, I have followed an open and transparent system that puts the decision making in the hands of the community and those who are most impacted by the outcome. This community process has empowered our neighborhood and led to better development projects based on the feedback from residents. I am committed to continuing this open, transparent, community minded representation of our community. And as always I appreciate your feedback.
As a State Representative and an Alderman I have worked to ensure that neighbors won’t be force out of our diverse community due to rising property taxes. Over the last 8 years we have created additional housing, including affordable housing in our community. I have worked to ensure that affordable units are built on site of new development projects. Last year I worked closely with residents from East Andersonville to down zone the residential part of Andersonville, helping to preserve our unique two flats and single family homes. This important effort will help prevent developers from driving up our housing costs through tearing down our older homes. I am committed to continuing to grow our housing stock to create affordable housing options for all of our residents. I have created a Housing Committee to plan for the continued housing needs of our community. As we rebuild the CTA Redline there will housing development opportunities along Broadway. I am committed to reforming our property tax system to ensure the residents don’t continue to get taxed out of our community by an unfair tax system. I voted against the property tax increase enacted by the City. I am working with our new assessor to provide more reforms and transparency to this system, to help keep long time homeowners in their homes.
My staff and I have worked to assist and support our older neighbors. Each year I host a health fair to support the health of our older residents. I established a City Senior Center at the Broadway Armory and supported the creation and growth of the Edgewater Village. The Village is a Senior led group that organizes programs, advocates, and helps seniors live active independent lives in our community. Recently, I worked with local seniors to pass the Senior Relocation ordinance that ensures during renovations of Senior buildings, seniors will be treated with respect during the project. Previously as a State Representative, I worked to increase funding for Senior healthcare programs.
The arts is an important fabric the runs throughout our community. Our schools have dynamic arts programs that help support our students, including the high performing Fine Arts Program at Senn High School. As Alderman I have supported the growth of the arts throughout our community. Edgewater is recognized for the many dynamic live theatres that perform here. I have worked with the leadership of our theatres to create the Edgewater Theatre District, which promotes our community as a hub for Chicago Theatre. I have supported the growth of Edge Theatre, Jackelope Theatre, About Face Theatre, and Steep Theatre. I recently worked with Timeline Theatre to relocate and develop a new theatre near Argyle. These theatres add to our cultural vibrancy and support other local businesses. I worked with the city and Chicago Filmmakers to redevelop the Ridge Firehouse into a film center. Working with the leadership of the Edgewater Artist in Motion we have grown the annual Edgewater Art Fair. I recruited the Chicago Mosaic School and helped them relocate to Granville. We have added over public arts works and murals throughout our community that have brightened our neighborhood.
The strength of our community is our diversity. Our communities of Andersonville, Edgewater, and Uptown are a mosaic of people from many different backgrounds, races, faiths, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. This diversity is what I grew up with and helped make me who I am today. As a State Representative and Alderman, I have cherished and supported the diversity of our community.
As a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community I sponsored and helped pass human rights and civil union legislation to guarantee equal rights. As Alderman, I supported Marriage Equality legislation, so that many in our community could have their love to one another recognized. As a long time advocate for the immigrant and refugee community I have worked to support the many immigrant organizations in our community including Centro Romero, Chinese Mutual Aide, Southeast Asia Center, Vietnamese Association of Illinois, the Ethiopian Association, Swedish Museum and others. Last year I sponsored the 48th Ward International Unity to highlight our rich diversity. Throughout the year I work closely with our many religious institutions to support our community. I will continue to support our rich diversity that makes our community special.
My staff and I are dedicated to providing responsive, dedicated constituent services to residents in the 48th Ward. Little things that are important to you matter to us. I have dedicated staff that focus on key issues including safety, schools, economic development, youth and older adults. We work to support those residents in our community who need assistance in any way. We provide assistance to those living in homelessness in our community and help get a safe housing environment. Throughout the year we support Care for Real that provides needed food and clothing for residents living in need. It is critical that we work together as a community to support those amongst us who need our help. Ensuring that everyone in our community is supported is a priority we share as a community.