“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed, citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
As the 2015 aldermanic election winds to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving as your alderman. Though I have always enjoyed my job, the last few years have been particularly meaningful.
After enduring many challenging years, our community has finally come into its own. There’s a new energy and spirit in the 49th Ward. Morse and Glenwood–our neighborhood “downtown”–continues to improve. New clubs and restaurants and a brand new Red Line CTA station are giving the streets a life, vibrancy and safety they haven’t seen in a long time.
Howard Street is on the verge of a renaissance, as well. The new Jewel-Osco at Gateway Center, continued success of Sol Café, the hugely popularHello! Howard Community Garden and last week’s news that live theater is returning to Howard Street are just a few of the promising signs.
Despite a tough summer, our neighborhood continues to grow safer. Thanks to good police work and community involvement with CAPS, serious crime in Rogers Park is down 28% in the last three years. And we’re making real progress against gun violence with the Police Department’s recently launched“custom notification” program, which targets gang leadership in our area and has dramatically reduced gun violence over the last five months.
Our bold experiment in participatory budgeting has given new meaning to Margaret Mead’s words above. After I introduced the concept to the community, the residents of our ward took the idea and ran with it, coming up with some innovative and exciting ways to spend their tax dollars and proving once again that the people, not the politicians, know best how to spend their money. In the process, our participatory budgeting initiative has gained national attention and praise in national publications such as USA Today as “one of the boldest exercises in citizen involvement.”
I’ve had a great time showcasing our many wonderful restaurants and watering holes in my Follow Me on Friday series. Literally hundreds of 49th Ward residents have been introduced to our neighborhood’s hidden gems right in their own backyard and, in the process, I’ve gotten to know you a little better in a relaxed, laid back atmosphere.
I’ve beefed up our ward services to the point where the 49th Ward Service Office was recognized a few years ago as one of the most responsive aldermanic service offices in the city. There was no better evidence of that than the speed with which our streets and alleys were cleared after the fifth heaviest snowfall in Chicago’s history. Thanks to the incredibly hard work of my Ward Superintendent Dan Murphy, every street in the 49th Ward was cleared of snow within 48 hours of the storm’s end.
And of course you’ve been receiving regular communications from me through my electronic newsletter. I personally write each and every message. Though it is a time-consuming task, I believe it’s important you hear from me personally in my own words, not the words of some PR flak.
In the last four years, I have reached out to former adversaries to forge common ground and as a result, we are truly stronger together.
The decision on who your next alderman will be is now in your hands. Whatever you decide on Tuesday, I will respect and honor your decision.
Once again, thank you for the honor and privilege of representing the most amazing community in the nation!