Susanna Ernst joins Megan Mathias, Marija Tomic as challengers to 45th Ward Alderman James Gardiner
by BRIAN NADIG
Jefferson Park resident Susanna Ernst has announced her candidacy for the 45th Ward aldermanic seat, joining Megan Mathias and Marija Tomic as challengers to Alderman James Gardiner.
Ernst is a former director with Jefferson Park Forward, where she also served as chairperson of the economic development committee. She also served about 20 years ago as president of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, and is president of the Northwest Chicago Historical Society.
“The best way to improve the quality of life in my community is to take personal ownership of it,” Ernst said. “Building bonds with neighbors and local organizations creates a network that becomes an extended family. When we all work together, our communities become safer, friendlier and more economically prosperous.”
In recent years Ernst has become an advocate for preserving the Our Lady of Victory Church building in Jefferson Park. The church has closed and could eventually be sold.
Ernst said that she wants “everyone in our ward to receive fair and equitable constituent services”’and “our local businesses supported.”
She added, “I want to see safer streets through active collaboration between residents and our first responders. I will do all of this in partnership with residents and community organizations.”
Ernst also worked on the 45th Ward participatory budgeting process, which former Alderman John Arena started about 10 years ago. The process calls for a community vote on how to spend a portion of the ward’s annual discretionary funds, Gardiner has not continued the process, arguing that as much of the funds as possible should go toward side-street resurfacing.
The boundaries of the 45th Ward have changed significantly since Gardiner was elected to his first term in 2019, now taking in Wildwood, all of Edgebrook north of Devon Avenue, and portions of Norwood Park, including several blocks just to the west of Nagle Avenue. The ward lost portions of Old Irving Park but continues to take in most of Gladstone Park and Jefferson Park and portions of Portage Park.
The following Aug. 30 article discusses the other 45th Ward candidates:
Ernst becomes the third former JPNA president to seek the 45th Ward aldermanic seat. In 2003, Pete Conway lost to then-alderman Patrick Levar, and Robert Bank lost in 2019, when Gardiner defeated Arena.
Mathias, a lawyer, has been working on her campaign for more than a year, while Tomic, a Jefferson Park area resident, announced a few months ago.