I wanted to let you know I officially launched my campaign on Sunday for re-election as Alderman of the 49th Ward, and yesterday I filed nominating petitions containing the signatures of 5,047 49th Ward residents.
Below are some remarks I gave when I announced my candidacy. I would be interested in hearing your comments and would be honored to have your support.
ALDERMAN JOE MOORE’S
STATEMENT OF CANDIDACY
December 10, 2006
Today I announce my candidacy for re-election as Alderman of the 49th Ward.
I am grateful for the honor and privilege of representing this very special and wonderful ward. We are a neighborhood of tolerance and compassion, a neighborhood that fights for social justice. We are a neighborhood of tree lined streets and beautiful homes where we look out for our neighbors. We are a neighborhood of large elegant apartment buildings, many of which historically served as homes for our poor and working class neighbors. We are a neighborhood that enjoys and cherishes beautiful lakefront parks and broad sandy beaches, which provide our own unique urban oasis.
And most significantly, we are a neighborhood of economic and racial diversity. Against a backdrop of a nation sharply divided, a nation of segregated communities and widening income gaps, our neighborhood stands as a beacon of hope.
Attend our neighborhood schools and hear over thirty languages spoken. Walk down Clark Street, Morse Avenue or Howard Street and visit stores and restaurants from cultures spanning the globe. Randomly knock on the door of any home in the 49th Ward and you cannot predict the race and ethnic heritage of the person answering.
Have we in the 49th Ward completely conquered the racial divide? Of course not. Racism exists in our community, often in insidious forms. But our community is much closer than most to embodying the dream of an America where people of different races and cultures can live and work side by side.
We are justifiably proud of our diversity, and pleased with the economic revitalization our neighborhood is experiencing. In many respects, it is the best of times for our neighborhood. Work has begun on the long-awaited Howard El Station redevelopment, and work will soon begin on a new state-of the art fire station.
New businesses are opening on our commercial area. Jarvis Square is booming with new restaurants, pubs and coffee houses, and the Glenwood Arts District is alive with art galleries, theaters and neighborhood pubs.
Morse Avenue has also seen new restaurants and pubs and will soon see a new coffee house and an exciting new restaurant and entertainment venue. $800,000 in improvements were made to the Morse Avenue El Station. And a new streetscape project will get underway on Morse Avenue this summer.
Howard Street has witnessed great improvements with the stabilization of the Broadmore Hotel and the construction of the Gale Community Center, which will open next year. The Gateway Shopping Center is now nearly fully leased and the Wisdom Bridge Theater Project is moving ahead with plans to develop a new community-based theater on Howard. Several run down storefronts are slated to be replaced with mixed-use developments that will bring new homeowners and brand new storefronts to the street.
My office worked closely with the Heartland Alliance to identify a site for a new health clinic in Rogers Park, giving them the opportunity to obtain federal funding for the project, and I’ve worked with groups like the Howard Area Community Center and Northside Power to provide local jobs for community residents at the Howard El and Gale Community Center construction sites.
Nearly 300 blocks of streets and alleys have been resurfaced, over 130 blocks of sidewalks have been replaced and over 50 blocks of curbs and gutters have been repaired. And dozens of 49th Ward streets have been made safer by the bright new streetlights I arranged to have installed, and dozens more blocks are slated for new streetlights next year.
Scores of gang and drug-infested apartment buildings in the 49th Ward have been transformed into safe, clean and decent housing, often with the assistance of my office. And the Chicago Police Department broke up four major drug rings in the last two years. These efforts, combined with an aggressive community policing program in the 24th Police District, have resulted in an eleven percent drop in serious crime in the last four years and a forty-nine percent drop in crime since I first assumed office fifteen years ago. Put in human terms, there were 5,200 fewer victims of crime last year as compared to fifteen years ago.
Crime is still at an unacceptable level, but we are heading in the right direction.
Finally, test scores at our local schools have shown steady improvement over the last ten years. In some schools, the percentage of children at or above national norms has more than doubled.
And yet with all this good news, our neighborhood, like many neighborhoods in Chicago is faced with a new set of challenges that threaten our neighborhood’s diversity and harm its unique character. Some of these challenges are a direct result of development pressures driven by market forces. Others are a result of government policy decisions and spending priorities that impede our ability to preserve our neighborhood’s diversity and residential character.
While I welcome new development to our neighborhood, development must be balanced to insure that the 49th Ward continues to be home to people of low and moderate income. Balanced development means affordable housing as well as market rate housing. If you are seeking something from me to assist your development, I ask for affordable housing in return. That is why I was one of the first aldermen in the city to require an affordable housing set aside for major residential developments that need a zoning change.
That is why I worked with the owners of the North Point Apartments to maintain the affordability of over 300 units of affordable rental housing. The owners received my support for funding to rehabilitate the apartments, and in return, they agreed to extend the affordability of the units for an additional 20 years.
That is why I supported a zoning change for a local developer to build additional apartment units in his buildings but only on the condition that those units be maintained as affordable and accessible rental housing.
That is why I actively supported the implementation of a Neighborhood Improvement Fund in the Sheridan-Devon TIF to provide rehabilitation funding for local building owners who agree to maintain a portion of their apartment units as affordable rental housing.
My desire to maintain our neighborhood’s economic diversity also led me to support the preservation of an affordable rental building on Juneway Terrace, two affordable condominium buildings on Hermitage and Paulina, and the construction of hundreds of units of affordable housing for our senior citizens.
Balanced development also means preservation of our neighborhood’s residential character. I am the only alderman in the city to initiate a ward-wide, community-based planning process to examine our ward’s zoning map. As a result of that process, I changed the zoning in 30 different residential sections of our ward to prevent over-development and discourage single family home teardowns. This in turn steered development where we need it most, on our commercial and arterial streets.
Balanced development also means preserving our most valuable natural asset, our precious lakefront. Rest assured, I will not permit the extension of Lake Shore Drive or any other roadway on the lakefront, nor will I permit any harbors, residential development or large commercial development on existing park property.
Balanced development also means planning for our neighborhood’s future. That is why I fully support DevCorp North’s planning process for the future development of Howard Street and Morse Avenue. I will use their report as a guideline in evaluating future development proposals on those vital commercial streets.
Balanced development also means recognizing the reality of our global world. Some would have you believe that an Alderman should only concern himself with so-called local issues, as if the 49th Ward was an island impervious to the influences of the outside world. That kind of thinking is music to the ears of the downtown big business interests who want to return to the days of one man rule and “one-stop shopping” at City Hall.
You can talk all you want about reducing crime in our neighborhood, but nothing would do more to reduce crime than providing people jobs with living wages and decent benefits. Thousands of 49th Ward residents are struggling every day to make ends meet on less than subsistence wages. Do they want an alderman who simply fills potholes and sweeps streets? Or do they want an Alderman who will also fight for them at City Hall, so that they can earn a living wage and have a chance at a better life?
I stand before you proud of my leadership on the Big Box Living Wage Ordinance. For the first time in Chicago’s history, the City Council defied the downtown big business interests and a mayor named Daley and passed a law requiring some of the richest corporations in the world to pay their workers in Chicago a living wage. Tragically, the Mayor vetoed that law, and the big business interests are now coming after me, but if you return me to City Hall, I will fight for you again.
You can talk all you want about creating more affordable housing in our neighborhood, you can talk all you want about the lack of health care services, but we will never make a dent in our affordable housing crisis, we will never provide quality health care for all without help from the federal government. In the sixteen years I have been alderman, the federal government has drastically cut funding for affordable housing, and universal health care is still an unrealized dream.
At the same time, according to the National Priorities Project, Chicago taxpayers alone have spent four billion dollars on the war in Iraq. If you divided that number by Chicago’s 50 wards, the 49th Ward’s share of that amount would be 80 million dollars.
Think of it. Eighty million of our hard earned dollars went to that stupid and disastrous and immoral war. Think of the hundreds of poor and working class families who could remain in our neighborhood if the federal government had used that money to preserve and create affordable housing. Think of the thousands of 49th Ward families who could receive health care services, or enjoy safe streets or quality education for their children.
I stand before you proud of my sponsorship of Chicago’s resolution against the war in Iraq. The Chicago City Council was one of the first city councils in the nation to go on record opposing the military invasion and I worked hard to convince hundreds of other city councils across the nation to follow our lead.
If more members of Congress had demonstrated the same political courage as Jan Schakowsky and the members of the Chicago City Council, our nation would have avoided the tragic loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and the unconscionable waste of hundreds of billions of dollars.
A good alderman works day and night to help people with their problems ensure the fair and efficient provision of city services, and guide his or her neighborhood’s development. And I will continue to work hard at those traditional roles. But since the days of David Orr, our community has expected more from their alderman. Our community wants someone who will occasionally rock the boat, understanding that decisions made downtown and in Washington affect the ability of us here in the 49th Ward to improve the quality of life in our community.
As your boat rocker, I will continue to speak out on issues large and small, regardless of the political consequences be it in support of living wages or against unjust wars or, yes, against abject cruelty to little animals.
Sixteen and a half years ago, I stood before a crowd of supporters on a warm June night to announce my candidacy for Alderman. My son Nathan was just a few hours old, having arrived a little earlier than expected. As I closed my remarks, I spoke of my dream that my son would grow up in a world free of fear, mistrust and hate. A world where children could play outside without fear for their safety. A world where every child received a quality education and reached their full potential. A world where people of different races and backgrounds could live and work together, judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Nathan is now approaching manhood and sadly fulfillment of that dream seems ever more distant. But I continue to hold onto that dream for Nathan and Zachary and for every child in our community. In this cynical and bitter time, those of us who dream such dreams are viewed as hopelessly naïve and Pollyannaish.
Of course the world will not change overnight, nor perhaps for many generations to come. But to refrain from working for peace and social justice, to give up on the hope that people of different races and creeds can live and work together as one is to surrender our children to a world of ever-increasing fear, hatred and mistrust.
We in this neighborhood can do our part to change the world. We can do it by leading by example: preserving our community’s residential character, protecting our precious lakefront, maintaining an inclusive and diverse community and fighting for changes in state and federal policies that will improve the lives of our residents.
If you honor me with re-election, I pledge to you I will continue to work night and day to build a neighborhood of our dreams.
Paid for and authorized by Citizens for Joe Moore, 1431 W. Fargo, Chicago, IL 60626. A copy of our report is (or will be) available from the Cook County Clerk, 69 W. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60606. State law requires that political committees report individuals whose contributions exceed $150 in a calendar year and the occupation and employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $500 in a calendar year.