Forum

Just before the League of Women Voters Chicago 5th Ward aldermanic forum at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. Shore Drive, Sunday, Jan. 8

Twelve candidates are running to replace retiring 24-year incumbent Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) on City Council. They pressed their candidacies and addressed policy issues at a Sunday, Jan. 8 League of Women Voters Chicago forum at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. Shore Drive.

All candidates support the municipal landmarking of Promontory Point and reestablishment of the Chicago Department of the Environment. All but one said they support "streamlining city and county public transportation agencies"; Dee Perkins said she was unsure about the issue, pending information from the agencies.

Marlene Fisher: A cybersecurity administrator, she noted the construction of housing in Woodlawn with 30% affordability set-asides and the number of empty lots where housing could be built. Wants to see a small business incubator in South Shore and the recruitment of entrepreneurs to open businesses on the South Side. Wants more mental health responders for emergency mental health situations (a city pilot program, with Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement, or CARE, teams, is currently underway) and more outdoor activities in the ward. Would emphasize engagement with local principals and local school councils (LSCs). Lives in Great Grand Crossing and does urban gardening.

Wallace Goode: Calling himself a "son of Woodlawn," he has served in the Peace Corps and worked as a dean at four different universities. A former Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce head, Goode worked on workforce development and employment; notes his ability to communicate with city government and the University of Chicago because of his professional history. He wants a comprehensive job creation plan for South Shore, informed by the South Shore, Woodlawn and Hyde Park chambers of commerce. Wants the ward to have a pilot program for public school improvement that would apply U. of C. education research.

Joshua Gray: Noted his community organizing in the 5th, 6th and 17th wards and work in education as a teacher, dean and assistant principal. Ran for Cook County Board in 2018, after which he opened a political consultancy. Wishes the Obama Foundation had signed a community benefits agreement (CBA) and is disappointed about the amount of parkland the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) is displacing. Wants to engage corporations like Starbucks for job creation and focus on middle-income jobs. Wants a social resources center akin to Bronzeville's Bright Star Community Outreach, 4518 S. Cottage Grove Ave., in every neighborhood alongside more counselors in Chicago Public Schools. Would attend Chicago School Board meetings and meet with CPS network chiefs and local principals to forge a "unified mission" around education in the ward. Said the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) should be reimagined.

Jocelyn Hare: Longtime Hyde Park and neighborhood homeowner; said closing small businesses and rising rents motivated her 2015 run against Hairston. Concerned about prices for tenants and homeowners rising because of the OPC, which she said should be addressed with "resources." Wants to focus on supporting small businesses as well as fostering local entrepreneurship through job incubators. Proposes establishing a ward council to vote on positions related to local issues. Wants to engage the community for its opinion on public schools and to visit local schools.

Tina Hone: Said her commitment to civil rights, social justice and equity stems from her lived experience as a biracial person. Did Teach for America and worked in private sector and federal government public affairs in Washington, including elected office at a Northern Virginia school board, before returning to Chicago, where she was Mayor Lori Lightfoot's chief engagement officer. Says she could communicate with the municipal bureaucracy and balance competing interests as alderwoman. Said there should be long-term employment planning for when the OPC opens. Would use 71st Street tax increment financing (TIF) to make the commercial corridor as vibrant as 53rd Street, including its Metra access, stressing the importance of public transportation in the ward. Wants programming for CPS teachers to recognize trauma in students and more counselors for the schools. Would recognize the coming elected CPS school board "as a partner" with its own authority; noted that the city can put stipulations on the CPS through municipal grants.

Adrienne Irmer: Noted her experience in city, county and state government; she was a special assistant to the Beverly Hills, California, city manager, a legislative coordinator for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and a member of former state Sen. Kwame Raoul's (D-13th) staff. Currently a member of South Shore's special service area (SSA) and directed money to the neighborhood's commercial corridors. Said the OPC’s diverse hiring and contracting bodes well for future economic development once the center opens and that corresponding economic development and preparation for local small businesses should be going on now. Would allocate TIF money to benefit local entrepreneurship and to help fund CBA-bound developments. Said she would "amplify" the policies of the coming Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability and elected police district councils and do oversight over police hiring in order to have officers that reflect district demographics. Would attend LSC meetings and forge relationships with representatives. Would support CPS school board candidates with support from residents and teachers, not those "supported by corporations" who support charter schools.

Kris Levy: A wine-and-spirits company sales coordinator, native South Sider and 15-year Jackson Park Highlands resident, he said his private sector management skills would benefit the ward; public safety, economic development and community services are his top issues. Concerned about current ward residents benefitting from OPC. Would decide how to spend ward TIF money with community involvement, in light of often-competing affected local interests. Wants more youth programming in neighborhoods. Wants more police foot patrols and to target loitering in local businesses.

Robert Palmer: The special education/diverse learners teacher, Special Olympics and baseball coach, and Chicago Teachers Union member said ward residents are tired of not receiving adequate city services or effective communication with the government, largely depending on what area the residents live in. Would focus on equity throughout the ward. Said the Obama Foundation should have signed a CBA and that there should be job set-asides for ward residents. Noted his experience as a real estate broker as it relates to zoning. Would work "in tandem" with the coming community commission and police district councils as well as Chicago Police Department district commanders. Called for more youth mentorship programs. Has served as a parent, community and teacher representative on LSCs.

Dee Perkins: Said her campaign is about inclusivity, growth, prosperity and community, with a special focus on local Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. She wants to have a "community-peer patrol team," ward-wide WiFi, a website for ward residents, protections for seniors, youth engagement and the encouragement of entrepreneurship and local development. She is a corporate tax auditor and professional boxer. Wants more transparency for TIF funds and the use of those funds for homeowners to buy vacant properties to rehabilitate them. Her patrol team would consist of volunteers and employees, tasked with being present in the community to prevent crime. Said charter schools that receive public funding "should be treated like public schools.”

Gabriel Piemonte: The former Herald editor who ran against Hairston in 2019 wants discussions of public safety to include discussions of employment and housing insecurity, noting high evictions and the high homicide rate in South Shore. He would focus on Black Chicagoans' housing crisis in terms of eviction, foreclosure and high property tax assessments. Wants a more accountable CPD, in light of its annually increasing budget and relatively low rates of solving criminal incidents. Said the Obama Foundation "has never felt like they have to listen to us" and that the OPC should never have been built in Jackson Park. Concerned about diverse-hiring practices at the construction site, particularly the number of African Americans working there. Complained about the deteriorated Stony Island Avenue bus line service because of construction. Called charter schools "a disaster for the public school system" that should be systematically dismantled, with exceptions for those "that are working now." Called the CPS appropriations system "a disaster" and wants to abolish TIFs.

Renita Ward: A U. of C. Divinity School graduate and attorney for Northwestern Medicine, she said her professional background would enable her to perform an alderperson's myriad duties. Is focusing on youth, economic development, education and responsive, efficient government for the ward. Said OPC-related transportation development will depend on the aldermanic office and community being good partners while holding the Obama Foundation accountable. She would garner feedback from communities recognized to have been affected by systemic racism to see what policies and resources they need. Wants a tighter strategic partnership with the CPD, the U. of C. Police Department, local block clubs and community organizations. Cautioned against closing charter schools to which enrolled students may be attached.

Desmon Yancy: The labor and community organizer and policy advocate was part of the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) coalition that mobilized to pass a significant police accountability ordinance in City Council in July 2021. Said he is running out of concern for Black Chicago's future. Wants city capital for Black-owned small businesses and city resources like tax credits or job-training programs for formerly incarcerated people. Would work with the forming community commission and police district councils, established by that 2021 ordinance, to foster better police-community relations. Disappointed, as a South Shore resident, about the closure of Cornell Drive and thinks the Obama Foundation has not been communicative about the OPC's effect on transportation; supports "much more robust" community engagement thereof, instituted by the aldermanic office. As a former schoolteacher, he is against charter schools and said adequately funding CPS would negate their need.

(1) comment

Cat'sEye

Good summaries - shouldhelp differentiate these candidates. BUT there was another candidate who snuck in - Julia Kline is running for the 2nd police District Council. Did anyone else note her efforts to buttonhole potential voters to hear her vote-for-me pitch?

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