The ballots are cast, the votes are counted, and the people have spoken. Attached below are the results of the 2012 Participatory Budgeting Election in the 49th Ward:
Over 1,300 residents of our community cast ballots in this historic election to vote on how to spend the 49th Ward’s 2012 capital improvement budget. The voters decided that slightly over half of this year’s budget should be devoted to street resurfacing. For the remaining portion of the budget, the voters selected a wide range of proposals, including new sidewalks, a new playground at Touhy Park, new trees for our parkways and new artistic murals to grace approximately 20 CTA and Metra underpasses and the CTA retaining wall at Dubkin Park.
When I launched the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting process three years ago, I had high expectations for our very special neighborhood. The 49th Ward has a proud history of civic engagement, and I knew my constituents would embrace this process.
But the Participatory Budgeting elections have exceeded even my wildest dreams. They are more than elections. They are community celebrations and an affirmation that people will participate in the civic affairs of their community if given real power to make real decisions.
The 49th Ward’s Participatory Budgeting process has been recognized worldwide. Four city council members in New York City just held a Participatory Budgeting election in their city council districtsmodeled after the 49th Ward’s process, and our success has inspired officials in Vallejo, California, to hold the nation’s first citywide participatory budgeting election.
And Participatory Budgeting is about to spread to as many as six additional wards in Chicago! Four aldermen have signed up to implement Participatory Budgeting in their wards next year and another two aldermen are seriously considering it.
This is a people-powered process from beginning to end. From the initial planning stages to its final implementation, the process is driven by scores of community volunteers. I extend my deepest gratitude to the members of the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Leadership Committee and the 49th Ward residents who volunteered countless hours as “Community Representatives.” I especially want to acknowledge 49th Ward resident Sarah Lisy who chaired the Leadership Committee and devoted countless volunteer hours to ensuring the success of our initiative. She is a neighborhood treasure.
And kudos to my 49th Ward Service Office staff–especially Cecilia Salinas, who is my lead staff coordinator for the Participatory Budgeting process, Betsy Vandercook, my chief-of-staff, and Wayne Frazier, who oversees ward infrastructure projects. Michael Land, Ann Hinterman and Adriana Moreno Nevarez of my staff also pitched in to support the work of the Leadership Committee and community representatives.
I also wish to extend my gratitude to Josh Lerner of the Participatory Budgeting Project for his ongoing guidance and support.
Finally, and most importantly, my thanks to the residents of the 49th Ward who voted in this historic election and took democracy into their own hands. I’m proud to represent this amazing community.