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Abe Tekippe/MEDILL

Campaign yard signs line the streets in the 23rd Ward.

23rd Ward, residents say, is a nice place to live that could be nicer

by Abe Tekippe
Jan 11, 2011

Ward 23 Candidates

  • Michael Zalewski (incumbent)
  • Charles "Chuck" Maida
  • Anna Goral

A lot of people pass through the Southwest Side’s 23rd Ward each day on their way to and from Midway Airport, but the people who live there tend to stay there.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that residents think everything is perfect.

Public safety, education and business revitalization are among the issues that have Chicago’s 23rd Ward buzzing ahead of the Feb. 22 municipal election.

This year, the election pits Chuck Maida and Anna Goral against longtime incumbent Ald. Michael Zalewski, who has held the position since 1995.

Both Maida, a police officer, and Goral, a real estate broker, said the ward’s location on the west edge of the Police Department’s Chicago Lawn District, one of the city’s largest, has presented problems.

“There’s issues with the infrastructure, with the trains, that block off this peninsula on the west end of the 23rd Ward,” Maida said, adding that the lack of overpasses and underpasses near railways can slow emergency response times.

Also, Goral and other community members said there simply aren’t enough officers patrolling the streets in the ward, which in addition to Midway also includes the Garfield Ridge and Clearing neighborhoods.

“People go to work, they come home and their houses are broken into,” said 37-year-old Jimmy Fadz, who grew up in Garfield Ridge.

Residents said education is also a concern in the community.

“I don’t send my kids to the public schools around here. I just don’t think that they perform well,” said Maria Gniech, a 41-year-old Garfield Ridge resident. “It’s sad, but you do what you have to.”

Business revitalization is another key issue to residents.

“What’s happening is people are flying to Midway Airport and then they do not stay in our ward to spend their money,” Goral said.

Mary Ann Dybala, president of the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce, said more retail establishments are necessary for revitalization.

“We have primarily real estate offices, doctor’s offices and lawyer’s offices,” Dybala said. “There’s very little retail here, and that’s what we need in the neighborhood.”