The ballots are cast, the votes are in, and the people have spoken. Attached below are the results of the first ever Participatory Budgeting Election in the U.S.
Over 1,600 residents of our community voted in this historic election to determine how I will spend my 2010 capital improvement budget. The winning proposals run the gamut from the traditional–repairing sidewalks and resurfacing streets–to the less conventional, such as community gardens and murals, which give the 49th Ward its special flavor.
When I launched the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting process one year 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 Saturday’s election exceeded even my wildest dreams. It was more than an election. It was a community celebration and an affirmation that people will participate in the civic affairs of their community if given real power to make real decisions.
This was a people-powered process from beginning to end. From the initial planning stages to its final implementation, the process was driven by scores of community volunteers. I extend my deepest gratitude to the members of the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee and the 49th Ward residents who volunteered countless hours as “Community Representatives.” I especially want to acknowledge 49th Ward resident Paul Bluestone of Bluestone & Associates for his generous contribution of design services.
And kudos to my 49th Ward Service Office staff–especially Nicole Summers, Betsy Vandercook and Wayne Frazier–who worked long hours to support the work of the steering committee and community representatives, and Josh Lerner and Gianpaolo Baiocchi of the Participatory Budgeting Project for their guidance and ongoing support.
Finally, and most importantly, my thanks to the 1,652 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.