For the first time since the mid-’90s, Chicagoans living in the 13th Ward will have a new alderman after February’s municipal election — they just won’t have a lot of say in who that alderman is.
Last month, Ald. Frank Olivo announced he would not run for re-election in the home ward of powerful Illinois Democatic House Speaker Michael Madigan, leaving Marty Quinn as the only candidate, and the defacto winner, in the Feb. 22 election.
“Olivo for so many years ran unopposed, and I know that there have been people that have been interested in being an aldermanic candidate that just haven’t been able to break into the political position,” said Barbara Basile, 56, who has lived in the West Lawn community for more than 25 years. “We really didn’t get a chance to choose someone or hear other voices.”
In addition to some residents wanting more candidates on the ballot, many said they would like to see the new alderman address issues such as education and public safety.
“Most of the schools are overcrowded,” said 53-year-old Luis Silva.
Silva and other residents said they believe building more facilities, hiring more teachers and offering more programs would not only improve education, but also would help address another issue in the ward: gangs.
Silva’s concern was echoed by Elvia Godinez, 33, who has lived in West Lawn for 12 years.
“I think there should be more [after-school] programs in these schools ... places where we can keep the kids longer,” she said. “They don’t wanna be at home, but it’s a danger out in the street.”
As a longtime resident of the Southwest Side ward, Godinez said she would like to see more progress being made to better the area.
“I haven’t seen any good changes,” she said. “The only thing that I noticed recently was some potholes covered.”