Five vie to represent 4th Ward as AldermanFebruary 4, 2017
By Eva Hoffmann
Voters in the 4th Ward will head to the polls on Tuesday, Feb. 28, for a special election to choose their alderman. Former Alderman Will Burns resigned last year, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Sophia King until the City could hold the election. Five candidates are running. The 4th Ward includes parts of the South Loop, Bronzeville, Kenwood, and Hyde Park communities.
If no candidate earns more than 50% of the vote, the top two will go to a runoff in April. To learn more about the candidates, attend the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference candidates’ forum at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., or the South Loop Neighbors’ forum on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn Ave.
Sophia Dorsey King
A longtime resident of the 4th Ward, Sophia Dorsey King earned her master’s degree in education and social policy from Northwestern University. Formerly the head of the Kenwood Park Advisory Council, King founded the nonprofit Harriet’s Daughters, which promotes employment and wealth-creation opportunities for African-American communities.
King said she intends to continue being an independent voice, supporting the best interests of the 4th Ward and its residents. “I voted against a referendum that would have blocked the voice of airport workers,” she said. “I voted against an aviation bond deal that wasn’t inclusive of the diversity that our ward and this great city represents.”
King plans to address pension and budget issues by finding creative ways for the City to live up to the commitments it has made to its employees. “It is incumbent upon our City to be fiscally prudent with taxpayer dollars and also be responsible to our obligations to constituents that have served the City,” she said. “Although we will have to make hard decisions to make sure that we are on a path to fiscal solvency, it shouldn’t be on the backs of our most vulnerable residents.”
About violence, King called it a multi-tiered issue, saying the City needs to take a comprehensive approach with long- and short-term solutions.
“We have to address disparity in jobs, youth engagement, good neighborhood schools, and economic development in many communities,” she said. “We also need to tackle the broken trust and relationship between the community and police as well as community and government. The idea of increased police presence and good policing should not be competing interests.”
King said she will continue to maintain communication with the neighborhood Chicago Police commander about issues such as tone and extent of police response and to exchange information and strategies. See www.aldsophiaking.com for more information.
Gregory Seal Livingston
Much of Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston’s recent work as president and founder of the Coalition for a New Chicago was catalyzed when a Chicago police officer killed 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald and an alleged cover-up ensued. The seminary-trained pastor, long-time preacher, and community activist has served several congregations across Chicago and criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.
Livingston will seek creative ways to address the City’ budget and pension problems. “Chicago has money,” he said. “We’re not broke, but we have a great degree of mismanagement. The City spends money where they want to spend it, not where they need to spend it. We need to shine some light on what’s happening—no backroom deals, no deals in the dark. We need transparency and community engagement.”
He has worked for years to address violence. In 2011, Livingston and a group of men from his church formed what they called “God’s foot patrol,” talking to youth and checking on police presence in the neighborhood.
“In 2016 there was one person shot every two hours, but nothing changes,” he said. Some ways he hopes to address violence are job creation and leveraging economic interest in the community. “Our residents want the same thing everyone else wants,” he said. “But in impoverished communities, they develop alternative and sometimes illegitimate economies. With violence, part of the issue is that we are escalating police but not escalating the ways with which we deal with deprivation.”
Livingston says he is not anti-police; rather, he is pro-citizen. “We have amusement and luxury taxes,” he said. “Why not use some of that to make an entrepreneurial investment fund? We should also use some of that money to invest in trade schools—everybody doesn’t have to go to college. If we work to continue to improve our people, we will automatically improve our ward and our city.” See www.gregorylivingston.com for more information.
Attorney, business owner, and mother of four, Ebony Lucas has practiced real estate law for the past eight years. She has worked actively on the Dearborn Realtist Board, providing education to first-time homebuyers, and serves as president of the 41st & Ellis Block Club. As president of the Mandrake Park Advisory Council, she has been instrumental in increasing programming and visibility and improving park cleanliness.
If elected, Lucas said she would be an independent voice not politically beholden to the mayor. “My decision-making process will include prioritizing the needs of the 4th Ward, considering community input, and making decisions which support improving public education, decreasing crime and violence, creating jobs, and encouraging responsible development,” she said.
She seeks to avoid raising taxes to address the City’s pension issues and budget crisis. “I support long-term solutions, including renegotiation of interest-rate swap agreements, a financial transaction tax, and reducing the amount of funds diverted from the City and schools and placed into TIFs,” she said.
A top priority for Lucas will be addressing violence, and she advocates an immediate focus on programs and opportunities for youth engagement and jobs and on improving police and community relations.
“I plan to collaborate with non-profit, community, and faith-based organizations to introduce and restore programs in schools,” she said. “I also want to increase the visibility and access to programs such as After School Matters and One Summer Chicago so that teens are aware of the opportunities and are able to sign up for them.”
Lucas would prioritize responsible, planned commercial development to bring jobs, amenities, and vibrancy throughout the 4th Ward. As the ward is developed, she would work directly with contractors to host job fairs and ensure residents have access to training, apprenticeship, and employment opportunities. Finally, she wants to provide resources for efforts such as the Youth CAPS program and a police athletic league to bridge the gap between police and community and provide safe places for reporting crime. For more information, see www.lucasfor4th.com.
Gerald Scott McCarthy
An attorney and certified public accountant, Gerald Scott McCarthy practices licensing, transactional, real estate, and probate law and has served as campaign chair and campaign treasurer for several elected officials. A native Chicagoan and long-time 4th Ward resident, McCarthy is both a product of the Chicago Public Schools and an active alumnus of Saint Ignatius College Prep. He currently serves on the Saint Ignatius Development Committee to raise money for need-based scholarships.
If elected, McCarthy said he would align with those whose agenda best serves the needs of the 4th Ward first, then the city. “At the end of the day, we are all citizens,” McCarthy said. “We have to live and work together. Let’s put aside our special interests.”
About Chicago’s budget and pension issues, McCarthy does not favor raising taxes. “When property taxes go up, so does rent; it hurts everyone,” he said. “We’re talking about people who have lived in the neighborhood for years and can no longer afford to live here. We are elected to be creative. Raising taxes is an easy solution. Let’s think outside the box, and let’s have high expectations.”
McCarthy recently introduced a plan for improving the 4th Ward, including addressing violence. “We don’t want to just stop the violence—we want to promote peace,” he said. “I’m pro justice. There’s an epidemic of unarmed people of color being shot by police. We need more police, but we need better trained police. We also need quality public education, and we need to allocate some moneys for social programs. If Jack and Jill don’t have anything to do, it leads to violence in the streets. We want to build a community and maintain the fabric of the community, and when we get to promoting peace, we all can buy into it because we’re all on the same agenda.” See www.mccarthy4alderman.com.
Marcellus H. Moore Jr.
Marcellus H. Moore Jr. holds a law degree and an MBA from Northwestern University. He has owned his law practice, the Alliance Law Group, PC, since 2009.
If elected, Moore intends to represent constituents’ best interests. “My voting would be based on an understanding of what the people of the 4th Ward want and need…not guided by a necessity to support any particular individual, entity, or political agenda,” he said. “When the mayor supports issues that have a positive impact on the 4th Ward, I will gladly give him my support, but if there are issues that are not consistent with the best interests of the 4th Ward, I would have no problem voting in opposition to him.”
Moore’s first effort to help solve the City’s pension and budget issues would be to find creative ways to address these problems other than raising taxes. “Some solutions include moving to 401(k) plans instead of pensions or requiring all employees to pay directly towards their pension,” he said. “However, there may be an unfortunate reality that tax increases are needed to ensure the funding of pensions, which so many people are entitled to and should receive.”
To combat violence, Moore advocates treating the issue while addressing its root. Treating the problem would include strategizing with the Chicago Police Department about their base-level plan to handle violence, understanding “hot spots,” making a distinction between random violence and gang violence, and addressing each accordingly.
Moore also supports replicating strategic partnerships between the police and local institutions similar to that which police have forged with the University of Chicago. He also promotes coordinating with area public and private security forces in high schools and shopping areas and strengthening church and community organizations and CAPS relationships.
To address the root of violence, he advocates strengthening, supporting, and promoting neighborhood youth programs; providing job opportunities and workforce development sessions; and strengthening area schools. For more information go to www.friendsofmarcellusjr.com.