The ballots are cast, the votes are counted, and the people have spoken. Attached below are the results of the 2013 Participatory Budgeting Election in the 49th Ward:
Over 1,400 residents of our community cast ballots in this historic election to vote on how to spend the 49th Ward’s 2013 capital improvement budget. The voters decided that 62% of this year’s budget should be devoted to street resurfacing and new streetlights. For the remaining portion of the budget, the voters selected a wide range of proposals, including new sidewalks, restoration of the cobblestones on Glenwood, a pedestrian safety engineering study for Sheridan Road, cherry blossom trees and a new water fountain at Touhy Park, and shared bike lanes on Clark Street.
When I launched the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting process four 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. The 49th Ward played host this past weekend to hundreds of commnity activists and elected officials from across the world at the International Participatory Budgeting Conference.
New York City just held its second Participatory Budgeting election in which eight city council members implemented a process modeled after the 49th Ward’s. Vallejo, California, will hold the nation’s first citywide participatory budgeting election next week and a city council member in San Francisco just completed his first participatory budgeting election.
Participatory budgeting also has expanded to four additional wards in Chicago! Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, 45th Ward Alderman John Arena, and 46th Ward Alderman James Capplman held their participatory budgeting elections this weekend and 22nd Ward Alderman Ricardo Munozhas pledged to implement a participatory budgeting process next year.
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 Owen Davies who chaired the Leadership Committee and devoted countless volunteer hours to ensuring the success of our initiative.
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 and Ann Hinterman 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.