I am pleased to announce that I have named long-time Rogers Park resident and community activist, Kevin O’Neil, as my next chief-of-staff. He begins his new job next Monday, May 18th, which is the first day of my new term as alderman.
Kevin replaces Betsy Vandercook, who is leaving the 49th Ward Service Office after seven years. I thank Betsy for her leadership and many years of incredibly hard work and dedicated service to our 49th Ward community. I wish her well.
Kevin and his wife, renowned local artist Susan Wise, have called Rogers Park their home since 1989. Kevin and I, worked together in the successful effort to bring community policing to Chicago. When the City named the 24th Police District as one of the City’s four community policing pilot districts, Kevin immediately volunteered to be the beat facilitator for Beat 2431, centered around the Morse Avenue business district.
As a CAPS facilitator, Kevin focused on bad buildings in his area. He played a key role in transforming 1528 W. Morse from a crack house to an affordable senior housing building.
He also partnered with my office to force the sale of another building on Morse that was a prime source of criminal activity–1340 W. Morse. That building is now known as Reside on Morse and its revitalization under new ownership served as a catalyst for other positive economic activity in the Morse/Glenwood district.
Among his other CAPS accomplishments, Kevin organized the first “positive loitering” campaign in Rogers Park, in which ordinary community residents gather to from a positive presence on our neighborhood streets, discouraging criminal activity.
Kevin also served for many years on the DevCorp North board of directors, the predecessor agency to the Rogers Park Business Alliance. During his long tenure as board president, Kevin and DevCorp North worked with me to bring the Gateway Centre shopping center to Rogers Park.
And for the past 10 years, Kevin has chaired my 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee, the committee of neighborhood residents and community leaders who advise me on all zoning and land use matters that come before me. He will resign from the committee when he assumes the chief-of-staff position next week.
For nearly 30 years, Kevin worked at the American Medical Association, first as an editor for its weekly newspaper for physicians, and more recently as its director of internal and external communications.
And in his “copious” spare time, Kevin writes CTA Tattler, a popular blog about all things seen and heard on the Chicago Transit Authority.
I hope you will join me in welcoming Kevin O’Neil to the 49th Ward team!