Voters seek more economic development in 45th Ward, candidates say
by BRIAN NADIG
More economic development in the 45th Ward is one of the top issues among voters, according to all four of the ward’s aldermanic candidates.
Nadig Newspapers recently asked the candidates’ campaigns to list the top issues that they are hearing from voters.
Chicago Park District regional manager Marilyn Morales said that voters are worried about density and traffic congestion, "Six Corners desolation" and a general lack of economic development along Milwaukee Avenue, and an unresponsive alderman to community needs.
Chicago firefighter and part-time school teacher Jim Gardiner said that crumbling streets and other infrastructure problems, lack of businesses and the need for a mentoring program for new businesses, and the incumbent’s "refusal to listen to all" ward residents are the top issues.
Former Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association president Robert Bank listed property tax increases, more crime in the ward and the "total collapse" of the Six Corners shopping district along with empty storefronts throughout the ward.
Alderman John Arena said that government transparency and accountability, economic development in the ward’s communities and support of local schools are the issues which voters are talking to him about.
The candidates also were asked to give a final sales pitch.
"Alderman John Arena is a progressive, independent voice for the 45th Ward. He has consistently fought for increased transparency in government and helped attract over 100 businesses to the 45th Ward, (and) brought more than 30 additional neighborhood school classrooms to the ward, including a new annex at Prussing" his campaign said.
"The people of the 45th Ward deserve an alderman who wants to serve our community and not the special interests of political agendas. I have dedicated my life to serving, and I am determined to ensure our best interests are represented in City Council," Gardiner said.
"I have over 25 years of credible and noteworthy experience working with diverse communities, families and youth at the Chicago Park District. I have earned a reputation of getting work done and am hands-on, involved and results orientated, and I will bring the same type of leadership to the ward and will fiercely advocate for and represent the concerns and issues of the residents of the 45th Ward," Morales said.
"Voters should select me because our current alderman has been a total and complete failure. I have more knowledge and I have been at the forefront of ward issues longer than all of the challengers combined. I am the only candidate that has never worked for the government or inclined to get a government pension," Bank said.
Also of note, union endorsements have been going to Gardiner and Arena.
Gardiner said that he has earned 27 union endorsements, including the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, Chicago Fire Fighters Union, Plumbers Local 130, Sprinkler Fitters Local 281, Labors Local 1001 and Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters.
Arena has been endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, Service Employees International Union, Cook County College Teachers Union, Union Food and Commercial Workers, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, according to the Arena campaign.