Four in spirited battle in 28th Ward; Reilly unopposed in 42nd
February 1, 2019

By Peter Winslow

Four candidates are making a strong push to become the next 28th Ward alderman. In the 42nd Ward, Alderman Brendan Reilly is running unopposed.

Miguel Bautista.

28th Ward

First-time candidate Miguel Bautista looks to improve areas of the 28th Ward with an emphasis on bridging the gap between ward constituents and the political system. The Tri-Taylor native said he intends to be “vocal and transparent” in his aldermanic decision-making.

Bautista does not support a curb or ban on tax-increment financing (TIF) funds, but instead a fairer distribution.

“When TIFs first came out, it was to support blighted areas, which are mostly on the West and South Sides,” said Bautista. He looks to reform TIF fund allocation because he finds the program is no longer meeting its original mission, stating that the 28th Ward does not receive a fair distribution of funding while other, wealthier areas of the city, are given more than is deserved.

When asked if constituents could benefit from an additional high school and grade school, Bautista said before any idea of expansion is brought into the equation, rehabilitation and funding needs to be focused towards current educational facilities in the ward. Bautista wants to work with the City to allocate more TIF funds to existing schools.

“It is important that our schools are not closed, because they are the anchors of our community,” said Bautista.

While promising to fight for more effective allocation, Bautista has come up with an on-the-ground strategy to address pressing issues surrounding the ward’s schools.

“We are going to meet with all the teachers, principals, and parents in [area] schools and get a profile of all these schools, so next year we have a list of items we want fixed,” he said. Bautista then plans to approach the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and present a case as to why and how each school could benefit with more.

Bautista believes there could be benefits in consolidating the ward boundaries so that it is one alderman that represents Taylor Street/Little Italy. Bautista said he has noticed that when problems in that community are voiced to one of the three aldermen, issues at times can be “pushed off on to another” to deal with, making it difficult to successfully address and coordinate ways to fix what has been brought to the aldermen’s attention by residents. “Less is more,” he said.

Pertaining to his potential infrastructure agenda, Bautista plans to initiate two community committees, one with the focus on development and zoning, the other focusing on community benefit agreements. Bautista wants residents to reap the rewards of new developments by being actively involved, having the opportunity to share their opinions.

As outside developers continue to eye possible opportunities in the ward, Bautista plans to organize community members to reinforce the importance of longtime residents. “The community benefit agreement committee will require that there be up to 30% of onsite jobs for residents of the 28th Ward,” said Bautista, regarding future construction.

“The main mission for the development and zoning will be to require that there is about 30% of affordable housing onsite,” he added.

Bautista hopes that these two community-based groups will address the lack of affordable housing and high unemployment in the ward.

He especially desires that the ward’s youth be involved in developing beneficial infrastructure improvements. Bautista wants to create what he calls a Participatory Budget Project for all area high schools. He said that students as young as 14 will be able to propose and vote on developments that they would like to see or feel that their community needs.

“This will get our youths civilly engaged so they can see how the alderman’s office functions,” he said.

When asked what motivated him to run for alderman, Bautista said that the 2016 presidential election and his own upbringing in the ward gave him the will to run. As a first generation Mexican-American, he referred to the 2016 election being a “big deal” for him and his family. “Just because we live in a democracy, doesn’t mean we have democratic values,” said Bautista, who wants to spread democracy in the ward. Bautista is a member of the Democratic Socialists of American (DSA).

Bautista said he wanted to make sure that ward residents had a choice for alderman this year, as all seven challengers who opposed Alderman Jason C. Ervin in 2015 were bounced from the ballot.

“We are a grassroots peoples campaign and we do not take money from developers or corporations or dark money,” Bautista firmly stated. “We focus on the community members.”

For more information, see https://miguelfor28.com/.

Jason C. Ervin.

The incumbent, Jason C. Ervin, has served the 28th Ward since being appointed alderman by then Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2011. Ervin later won the 2015 election.

The ward’s upcoming aldermanic election looks quite different from four years ago, simply because there are challengers. In 2015, Ervin ran unopposed.

Ervin looks forward to continuing his working with Related Midwest, a developer who is building Roosevelt Square residences on the old ABLA site, as well as community groups, to find housing solutions that can meet the needs of community members. In regard to Related’s comments about Roosevelt Square’s market being “softer” than that of  “The 78” in the South Loop, Ervin thinks there are certain opportunities in the 78 that are not seen in Roosevelt Square due to the different natures of the developments. However, he said he is optimistic and believes each location is poised for future development.

Ervin recognizes that there are many tools to curb gentrification that often results in long-time residents moving from the ward. He articulated that the best tool is the new implementation of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance he voted for in November. This ordinance stipulates what percentage of the units in a development must be designated for affordable housing, which is dependent on whether the site is within a low, moderate, or high-income area. It is important to note, he said, that developers can pay in-lieu per-unit fees to limit the amount of affordable units. Any amounts gathered from these in-lieu fees will be placed in the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund for new construction and rental assistance.

The Taylor Street/Little Italy community is currently divided among three aldermen. Ervin believes that the Taylor Street/Little Italy community “transcends” these boundaries, and whether there are three aldermen or one representing the neighborhood, the interests and concerns of residents “will always be heard” by the aldermen.

When asked how he will implement an infrastructure plan in the said, Ervin said, “We believe in constantly addressing infrastructure issues like potholes, street paving, lighting, public, and cleaning up public spaces. There will always be work to do on this front, and we bring public agencies, private businesses, and volunteers together to keep the ward moving forward.”

Ervin believes that Chicago’s TIF funds are “effective” tools for development, but are rather opaque. “I would support reforms that make them more transparent for residents, because taxpayers should have a better idea about where their
money is being spent,” Ervin said.

Ervin did not provide a definitive answer when questioned about whether he supports lifting the ban on rent control, but he said he looks forward to the upcoming debate in Springfield over rent control and plans to work with the Illinois General Assembly, housing advocates, and apartment owners on this contentious topic.

For more information, log on to www.aldermanervin.com/.

Jasmine Jackson.

This will be the first year that the name Jasmine Jackson name appears on the aldermanic ballot, but it is her second time as a candidate. In 2015, Ervin challenged signatures on Jackson’s nomination petitions and successfully removed enough for her candidacy for her to fall under the minimum requirement of 473 signatures.

Jackson is an early childhood special education teacher at Penn Elementary School in North Lawndale.

To motivate Related Midwest moving on developing the old ABLA area, Jackson said she wants to establish a concrete plan of action with community stakeholders. “There must be a plan set to follow up and follow through with the decision to replace the vacant land with housing to attract more working families into the community,” Jackson said.

Jackson believes the 78 is deemed a more attractive housing market because there is an extensive, detailed plan with current support and future investment from the City. While comparing the strong market of the 78 to what Related Midwest called the “softer” one of Roosevelt Square, Jackson believes the discrepancy simply has to do with the projected number of potential buyers. She believes that “interest will peak and buyers will commit once a plan to move forward with building market-rate housing with some units set aside for affordable housing” is enacted.

As an educator, Jackson thinks that the ward could benefit from new educational buildings and annexes, considering that some of the schools have structural and other issues. Specifically, she believes there is a need for an elementary school with a strong early childhood education program and curriculum to accommodate the gifted and special needs populations living in the area. She would like the school to be centrally located in the ward to increase the accessibility for students.

Regarding plans for infrastructure development, Jackson will fight for funding to replace old water pipes, with the goal of eliminating the danger of lead contamination. Additionally, she will devise a strategy to illuminate poorly lit areas, noting she has been speaking to ward residents concerned with their safety, especially with fewer hours of daylight in winter.

Jackson sides with having a lone alderman to represent the Taylor Street/Little Italy community. She said she admires the community as culturally rich and diverse, and feels that it deserves to be led by one alderman as it continues to grow.

As gentrification remains a hot button topic in Chicago, Jackson hopes to curb its sweep into the ward by prioritizing the needs of longtime residents and enhancing economic development in the area. She believes that employment in the ward is vital to avoiding gentrification, and will push for local employment of longtime residents before anyone else.

Jackson also supports lifting the ban on rent control. “I want people to be able to continue to live in the community without fear of being priced out due to rising rents and gentrification,” she said.

She supports measures to ensure that TIF funding is eliminated. “I would not support additional TIFs that deplete the resources of other taxing bodies,” said Jackson.

Jackson is a third-generation resident of the 28th Ward, educated locally. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature and communications from East-West University, a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as a master’s degree in school leadership from Concordia University. She is currently an early childhood special education teacher in CPS.

Jackson said she is willing to work closely with the new mayor, police commanders and officers, and the entire community to ensure that residents living in the area feel safe and respected.

For more information, visit https://twitter.com/jasjacks2003.

Beverly Miles.

Garfield Park native Beverly Miles is seeking a position on Chicago’s City Council in order actively address the concerns of 28th Ward residents and advocate with an independent voice for their betterment.

As Related Midwest looks to develop the former ABLA homes area, there has been concern regarding the balance between the presence of market-rate and affordable housing. Related Midwest has publically stated the market in Roosevelt Square is “soft” in comparison to “The 78” riverfront project in the South Loop. 

Concerning this, Miles said, “I believe the market is soft because people of a certain economic echelon are buying or renting homes in the old ABLA area.” She would like to work with Related Midwest in order to negotiate who would qualify to purchase property and reside in Roosevelt Square and the 78 to assure that affordable housing is available.

Miles understands that market rate prices are designed to bring in individuals other than those with low to no income and does not find that is a bad idea. However, Miles said, “I believe in celebrating all parties but the goal is to bring in people within an income bracket who can create and maintain their own sustainability.”

In regard to potential plans of bringing in a new high school and grade school to the ward, Miles believes it could happen. She said that it would be her job to work closely with the community to determine the needs of each neighborhood within the area. “I will work closely with City Hall, CPS, community members, and other stakeholders while advocating for and executing the needs of the community itself,” said Miles.

As gentrification continues to affect the community, Miles wants to assure the residents of the 28th Ward that they should stay put. “Gentrification happens only if they leave,” said Miles. With current residents remaining, “we can gentrify our own neighborhoods by having the mindset to do so and having the resources to get it done from within.” 

Miles said she will attempt to usher constituents to property ownership as opposed to renting, as well as encourage those who sell property to sell it to people currently living in the community. “This way we can avoid the big investors from coming in and finding subtle ways to gentrify,” she said. Miles is also in favor of lifting the ban on rent control.

She does not think any limitation or ban on TIF money will do the City any justice. “TIF money is designed for community improvement and a large part of the community has the need for improvement,” said Miles. “The problem is that the mayor tends to control those funds.” She hopes to work toward developing a more appropriate approach in the dispersal of TIF funds.

Miles plans to rehabilitate areas in the 28th Ward with an infrastructure plan that focuses primarily on construction: newly paved streets, updated and brighter street lighting, street-scaping of all commercial corridors, and regularly scheduled street and alley maintenance.

Concerning the Taylor Street/Little Italy community’s aldermanic tripod, she thinks consolidation needs to occur. “The community should be led by one alderman with one synergetic approach; three leaders with three visions bring about a lot of unnecessary dissension that leaves the community grossly divided,” Miles said.

Miles earned her associate’s degree in Nursing from Kennedy King College, going on to earn a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees at other institutions. Miles also served in the United States Army and is since retired.

As to why she decided to run for the position of alderman, Miles said that growing up as an at-risk youth tailored her motivation to run for public office. “When I look at the people on the west end of the ward, I see me,” Miles said, “My philosophy is that I’ve served my country and now I stand to serve my community.”

Miles’s website is https://beverlymiles.org/.

42nd Ward

Back in 2007, Brendan Reilly defeated longtime incumbent Burton Natarus, who served for 36 years, from the 42nd Ward alderman seat. Reilly ran unopposed in 2015 and is doing so again in 2019. Reilly was named vice mayor in 2015.

The 42nd Ward comprises the Fulton River District, the Gold Coast, the Loop, the Near East Side, part of the West Loop, River North, and Streeterville.

Reilly is the former communications director for Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives and is a former vice president of public affairs for AT&T.

He serves on the board of the Energy Foundry, a large venture capital fund focused on investments in green technology and companies interested in environmental sustainability, and on the State of Illinois Smart Grid Advisory Committee.

Reilly has worked to bring greater fiscal accountability to City government and more transparency in City decision making. His top issues are improving transportation and delivery of City services, maintaining downtown green space, balancing the needs of residents, and businesses, improving public safety, assuring affordable housing, and addressing the rise in homelessness.

Reilly did not respond for requests for comment. His website is www.ward42chicago.com.