The 29th Ward has experienced serious disinvestment: the deliberate withdrawal of resources whether private businesses, non-profit institutions or public services. In parts of the 29th Ward people must leave the ward to do simple things like shop for food and medicine. There are not enough recreational facilities in the ward, especially for young people. School closings have caused some parents to send their children far from their neighborhood.
All of this takes a toll on communities.
The 29th Ward is racially and economically diverse, but while the most severe disinvestment has occurred in the largely African American sections, it has affected the entire ward. The result has been population loss, more poverty and more social problems. Even people who are doing well at the moment worry about their future as well as that of their neighbors.
As alderwoman I will work hard and fight hard for fair-minded economic development, the kind that will keep people in the the community, not drive them out as has happened in neighborhoods like Lakeview and Lincoln Park.
To do this I will need a mobilized community, one that is ready to meet together to plan strategy and take action together, no matter what your race or income level. As a longtime grassroots activist, I know that united in our diversity, we can accomplish great things.
Here are some issues that we need to address. We will be posting more details as the campaign continues. Please contact me if I left anything out you think is important:
Improved city services – There is no excuse for dangerous potholes, broken sidewalks or dead tree limbs that could fall and cause serious injury. Whether its garbage pickup, street cleaning, or proper maintenance of our public parks, we deserve the best in city services. City services are not provided equally to all neighborhoods. That has to stop.
Economic justice and job creation – Too much money is going to wealthy downtown business interests. We need an end to TIF subsidies.What we need are more development grants going to the 29th ward for needed improvement projects. A $15 an hour minimum wage would be a major investment in the community because people will have more money to spend here.
We need to support our unions who are fighting to improve the living standards of workers throughout the city. We also need to defend the pensions and retirement benefits of both public and private sector workers. They earned them and the community needs their buying power.
The 29th Ward needs jobs. But not just any jobs. Jobs at poverty wages won’t help. We need more public, non-profit and private investment in good paying stable jobs, ones that help support locally owned businesses. Workers should be able to organize unions at any new economic enterprises without interference. We should also support the formation of co-ops, which give people a direct stake in the economy.
Affordable housing development – Shelter is a basic human right. Community control of development, improvement of existing housing and creation of new affordable housing should be a priority. I would like to see landlords pay a fee based on a sliding scale for each unit they rent. The funds would enable the City to inspect properties and educate landlords about rights and responsibilities, while spotlighting landlords who use best practices. For more information please visit the Zerlina Blog here and here
Public health – As a community we know that many people have physical or mental issues that are not being properly addressed. We need to reopen the mental health clinics that were closed across the city. We need more general purpose clinics and we need increased funding for public health programs.
Public education – Our children deserve fully funded neighborhood schools with a rich curriculum that stimulates their creativity, imagination and desire to learn. That’s why we need an elected school board because our present appointed school board is failing to provide that. For more information please visit the Zerlina Blog here, here and here.
Environmental justice – The 29th Ward needs investment in energy saving technology like wind and solar to create green jobs, lower energy costs, reduce pollution and keep our planet liveable for our children. For more information please visit the Zerlina Blog
Public safety – More police will not help our problems with crime. We need the kind of economic development that creates stable communities where people feel safe on the streets and in their homes. We also need to have better job and counseling programs for ex-offenders who want to change their lives and become productive members of our community. For more information please visit the Zerlina Blog