My Top Priority as Alderman (so they say)

I’ve read the answers submitted in response to the Chicago Tribune questionnaires by the three candidates whose names will appear on the aldermanic ballot. (The two write-in candidates were not interviewed.) I’m especially interested in what each candidate believes to be the ward’s most pressing problems–the ones that demand immediate, focused attention.Not surprisingly, the incumbent offered nothing and the two challengers cited improved services to residents as the top priority.

Silverstein did not respond to the question. Instead, she discussed how she repaved streets, secured funding for the Devon street scape, for better lighting on residential streets, and for expanding the North Shore Channel Bike Trail. She reported on park improvements during her tenure. The fact that she did not discuss any priorities for a second term suggests that she has none, re-election itself being the only goal.

Quadri would focus on connecting with residents to improve their quality of life and with businesses to foster economic development.. She told the Tribune that among the chief complaints residents have made to her are the current alderman’s lack of communication, an absence of local job opportunities, increased crime, more taxes and fees, and poor schools. Quadri believes that demonstrating real leadership in the alderman’s office is a top priority..

Kuriakose agrees with Quadri that improving services to residents and businesses is the top priority for the next alderman. He would develop an economic plan, support our local police to ensure community safety, and create partnerships between businesses, nonprofits, and schools, including securing more funding for school operations.

No specifics were offered about how Quadri or Kuriakose would achieve their stated goals.

The ward clearly needs much more than Silverstein is offering. Her record over the past four years shows that she hasn’t delivered much of substance. An incumbent up for re-election who cannot claim any major ward improvements except a much-disliked street scape won’t impress with vague plans to repave streets and replace lights.

Quadri’s focus on quality-of-life issues carries no specific roadmap to improvement, but the mere fact that she’s aware that local jobs have dried up and residents are fed up with crime, taxes, user fees, and poor schools speaks well for her. Engaging with the business community is a very good idea, and working with businesses and residents to develop an economic plan for the entire ward is an idea that needs to be put into practice. It appears that Quadri would also be a sane voice in the City Council against more taxes and user fees and for improved school funding. She would find allies on the Council who think the same way.

Kuriakose is on the right track in seeing the need for an economic plan. He needs to clarify what he means by “partnerships” involving businesses and schools. The idea of involving school kids with nonprofits is one he shares with Quadri, and both are correct in realizing that social service should be part of the educational curriculum. He does not say how he would find more money for the schools, however, and like all other candidates is limited in this endeavor by the City’s ability to provide funds for schools while not raising taxes.

Please read the full Tribune interviews for yourself.

Debra Silverstein here

Zehra Quadri here

Shajan Kuriakose here

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