Here's a quick wrap-up of today's WBEZ candidate forum.
We have five very compelling candidates, which this great ward deserves. The alderman's job, in many ways, is the most powerful in the city, but also the most thankless. I am truly grateful to all of them for their commitment and dedication to our community.
I also thought Steve Edwards did an outstanding job of introducing our ward and choosing highly relevant questions from the citizens present at the Chicago History Museum today. (If you attended, can you give an approximate size of the crowd?)
As I've mentioned, I am not endorsing any candidate in this blog, but I'm also incredibly undecided as a voter. Today's forum gave me a lot more to think about and did not provide the clarity I had hoped. (That's not a fault of the forum, but rather symbolic of the quality of the candidates who are running.)
Please add your reactions and thoughts in the comments section. Or, you can e-mail me at ThePlaceWhereWeLive (at) gmail (dot)com.
Liked: Dealt with her critics in a rational, professional way. That's a requirement of the job as far as I'm concerned. She's also clearly knowledgable about her job, the ward, and the issues at play. She's a true professional. A lot of Chicagoans can't say that about their alderman.
Concerns: Did not like her plan for dealing with Children's Memorial Hospital. It was too piecemeal and lacked any kind of desire to create a cohesive vision for the community. Part of that point of view, I admit, is driven by my own frustration about the number of community groups in our ward. There should only be one group with a bunch of subcommittees. We have been divided and conquered, in my opinion.
She also said this about the three and four-lot McMansions cropping up south of Armitage, "It's really not a bad thing." She supported that by saying no one is complaining about it to her office. Hmmmm.
Liked: He mentioned a "lack of vision" when it comes to development in the ward (esp. with regard to the McMansions.) Also liked that he thought one part of putting the lid on property taxes was tracking what the city is doing with the money already.
Concerns: However, he didn't seem to be able to articulate a plan for how he would do better other than to say he'd hold planners accountable. Not sure that's a workable solution.
Liked: Okay, truly loved that she was going to pull together a strategic envisioning committee for development in our ward. This, in my opinion, is exactly what is needed and is advised by experts on how to address the issues raised today. Vi Daley's strategy of working with nine separate community groups, some urban planners, and other experts does not sound to me like it will bring together a consensus and it leaves out citizens who are not well-connected to the community groups. Also, said she has strategic planning experience.
She's also very credible on her statement that if you're looking for someone to stand up to the mayor, she's the candidate. She is the former director of the Meigs Field Action Coalition.
She also called for transparency in what the city spends.
Concerns: Goodstein was pretty succinct in her comments. I did not hear much in her approach that concerned me.
Liked: I thought her statements, "The look and feel of Lincoln Park is really under attack, " and "I fear we're losing the park of Lincoln Park" reflected two of my big concerns. She recognized disparity between Lincoln Park High School's IB program and regular program, which showed a great knowledge about the educational challenges in our ward and accompanying parental expectations.
Concerns: The comments I've heard offline and comments that have been posted on this site suggest she is a bit strident. Unfortunately, what I heard today supported that public impression. I found myself writing in my notes, "Man, she sounds angry." That is great when it fuels a passionate commitment to her community, which is seems to do. But, I also think she needs to begin showing her collaborative side pronto.
Liked: He said he was very concerned about "private interests taking over the public good" in our community. He looks at the city in a global way (meaning not just considering our ward), but he is a lifelong resident of the ward. He's an activist and was the one to most directly challenge the status quo, I thought. Also, I really appreciated his statement, "We pay the most property taxes in the city and should demand the best city services possible."
Concerns: The global point of view may challenge him as residents want to think ward-wise. I did find myself wondering whether he was running as a public service in order to help raise the issues he cares about and to challenge the status quo, rather than to primarily secure a win. He's very civic-minded and a committed activist. The city can't get enough of people like him as far as I'm concerned. The statement that the public schools are "adequate" did not reflect my standards as a parent and the level of expectations I think many other parents have.
(UPDATE: I just want to make a note about that last sentence, which sounds a bit snobby. What I meant is that many people hope to send their children to schools that are beyond adequate.)
I thought the candidates all did a much better job of addressing their solutions to development issues than keeping a lid on property taxes.
Please chime in.