Hill vs. Gardiner in race for ward committeeperson
by BRIAN NADIG
The two candidates vying to replace 45th Ward democratic committeeperson John Arena, who is not seeking re-election, have different views on what should be the focus of the Democratic Party.
Jim Gardiner, a Rosedale Park resident and current ward alderman, said that he would like to see the party return to a stronger emphasis on "working-class, union" values, while Old Irving Park resident Ellen Hill, who is a sales representative for a national footwear company, according to LinkedIn, said that she envisions a party that focuses on "progressive democratic ideals."
Hill charged that Gardiner does not hold "true Democratic Party positions" based on the actions he has taken during his first 9 months as alderman. She said that Gardiner has not been a strong enough advocate for affordable housing and is a "consistent" vote against city settlements in cases of police wrongdoing.
"You can call me what you want, but at the end of the day, I’m going to get the job done," Gardiner said, adding that city services are being delivered at a level not seen in the ward in years.
He said that he grew up in a strong union household and was taught that "if you want something go out and work for it … you just can’t wait."
Gardiner said that he would create a ward organization that welcomes anyone with a "strong work ethic" and "if they want to make the community better, I want you." He said that while campaigning many residents have expressed concern that the Democratic Party has strayed away from its working-class roots and that he hopes to address their concerns.
"My goal in running for committeeperson is to bring communication and transparency to the constituents. It would be my job to vet potential judges and aldermanic candidates. I want all of the people of the 45th Ward to feel heard and to find an alderman who views the position as more that just photo op," Hill said. She said that Gardiner panders to his base instead of moving the city forward.
Gardiner referred to Hill as "an Arena soldier," as the former alderman is supporting Hill’s candidacy.
Last year Arena lost his aldermanic seat to Gardiner, a city firefighter who won the support of several trade unions that had previously endorsed Arena.
Due to a state law calling for gender-neutral language, county political parties have dropped the term "committeeman" in favor of "committeeperson." Those holding the unpaid position are expected to get the vote out for party candidates in the general elections and to help slate candidates in the primaries. They also help fill vacancies when an elected official quits in the middle of a term.