I believe Zehra Quadri is the best qualified candidate for 50th Ward Alderman. She has the experience, the talent, and the vision to restore this ward to its former status as a political and commercial heavyweight in the City of Chicago.
Zehra knows how to get things done. She created a community resource center, Zam’s Hope, from nothing more than a desire to help others like herself. She had no money, no political clout, no friends in high paces. But she did have one asset: former Ald. Bernie Stone. Zehra talked to Bernie, explained what she wanted to do and why, and secured his backing for her endeavors. Bernie was committed to our community, and he recognized Zehra’s work as important. He supported her grant applications. He worked with her on the programs she began offering for after-school homework help, for abused women, for immigrants new to the city and the country.
Zehra and Bernie worked together on workforce development programs to help West Ridge residents prepare for and obtain employment. He gave Zam’s Hope the contract for delivery of emergency food boxes to needy families. Until Debra Silverstein, in an astounding act of political meanness, cancelled that contract, Zehra provided food for more than 200 families each month. Zehra didn’t care about the race, religion, or ethnicity of the people she served. She cared only that they were in need.
People need to work if they are going to stand on their own two feet in this world, and Zehra decided to create a boutique clothing business that would employ immigrant women as sewers, embroiderers, and tailors. It would give them business experience and allow them to make a place in the world for themselves and their families. That boutique is successful, and has spun off a tailoring business as well.
Zehra built a commercial kitchen at Zam’s Hope so that West Ridge residents thinking of going into the food industry can develop and test their recipes. When the kitchen is fully operational, it will provide food for a small restaurant and carry-out business; customer ratings will determine which recipes will be developed and marketed. West Ridge could produce the next Graham Elliott! All because Zehra believes that people and work are important, and that people who work at the things they love to do contribute immeasurably to their community.
Zehra also has a third business on the horizon. I won’t spoil her announcement by telling you anything other than that it is amazing! Watch for her announcement and see if you don’t agree.
She has created businesses and put people to work in permanent jobs.
She has experience as an entrepreneur, as a community activist, and as a government employee. She was manager of the grants program under Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
She has contributed enormously to the well-being of members of this community through Zam’s Hope and other volunteer activities. She has received numerous awards for her community service work, including the Volunteer Service award from the Chicago Police Department, 24th District. She has also been named its Citizen of the Year.
None of the other candidates can match her record of service to the community.
Zehra has a sound economic development plan that will strengthen viable ward businesses and create job opportunities for West Ridge residents. She knows how to turn our high vacancy rates into tax-producing businesses because she’s done it. She knows how to turn declining businesses into success stories. She understands the proper commercial mix that will make our business districts viable again.
She has pledged to bring participatory budgeting to the 50th Ward because she believes the community needs to be involved in decision-making that affects their lives. She has pledged a higher level of constituent services, beginning with office hours that will include weekends and holidays, since problems don’t occur on a Monday through Friday schedule. She has pledged to create an advisory council chosen by ward residents to advise her in her work as alderman, a council that will include residents as well as businesses. Most importantly, she has pledged an inclusive ward, one where every individual counts equally. There will be no more favoritism.
It’s time to get rid of the old-style politics, the divide-and-conquer strategies, that plague our ward. It’s time to throw off the special interests and put the community first. This, too, is something Zehra knows how to do.
I urge you to vote for progress, openness, and a solid record of community service, business building, and job creation.
Vote for Zehra Quadri for Alderman of the 50th Ward.