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We’re less than one week away from the City of Chicago election and some residents have begun to utilize early voting procedures. Although some political analysts have predicted a low voter turnout, others are anticipating a run-off for the mayoral race. After much deliberation and community feedback, the Chicago Defender Editorial Board presents our aldermanic endorsements.

These endorsements are focused on aldermen who have a higher percentage of African American residents in their wards. It is important that our public officials work on behalf of the best interests of the constituents of their ward and not abuse their public trust.

3rd Ward

Pat Dowell   Incumbent

The 3rd ward contains a major portion of the historical “Black Metropolis” and is often referred to as the “Heart of Bronzeville.” Alderman Dowell understands the historical significance of this community and she has spent most of her term fighting to maintain the historical character of the ward, making significant renovations and promoting economic development. She has received high scores for her stance on education, public safety and community trust. The Chicago Defender endorses Alderman Dowell for reelection.

4th Ward

Will Burns      Incumbent

The strongest challenger is businessman Norman Bolden who has been a tireless community activist; however, Bolden would need to match the influence and weight that are needed to overshadow Burns’ experience. Alderman Burns has demonstrated his ability to build upon plans put in place for both Kenwood and Hyde Park communities in economic stimulation. He has developed a reputation for connecting with businesses to provide jobs for community residents.  We endorse Alderman William Burns for the 4th ward.

5th Ward

Leslie A. Hairston        Incumbent

Alderman Hairston is known for her famous debates with the mayor and her fellow city councilmen. Further, she has dedicated herself to improving the quality of education, economic development and public safety in her ward. This includes her dedicated fight to bring a full service major grocery store to South Shore to replace the empty space that housed Dominick’s over the last three decades and a financial banking institution at the 71st & Jeffrey business corridor. Hairston’s familiarity and community connection with her African American constituents influences our endorsement for another term in the 5th Ward.

6th Ward

Roderick T. Sawyer        Incumbent

Alderman Sawyer has demonstrated his willingness to fight for improvements in education in his ward and he is making progress improving public safety as well as reductions in crime. While the majority of his ward is residential and TIF funding is low, he has fought for economic development and infrastructure improvements to attract more businesses. Sawyer understands the needs of the community and the city. Alderman Roderick Sawyer is our choice for the 6th ward.

7th Ward

Keiana Barrett

The 7th ward aldermanic race is one of the most watched races among the Chicago wards. Newcomer Natashia L. Holmes applied for the alderman’s position of the 7th ward once the seat was vacated almost two years ago by former Alderman Sandi Jackson. Although, Alderman Holmes has had little time to build upon the improvements of the ward, she has made some strides in bringing together potential outside companies to consider doing business in the economically challenged ward. However, her closest challenger, Keiana Barrett, has presented a strong platform and has articulated a vision that demonstrates her wealth of knowledge in understanding the goals and steps necessary to build the 7th ward. We endorse Keiana Barrett for this office.

8th Ward

Michelle Harris        Incumbent

Alderman Harris serves as chairman of the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics where she has been able to observe and track the behaviors of her fellow aldermen individually and collectively. She has fought continuously for better public safety, public education and economic development in the ward. She has garnered a great deal of community trust. It is clear that she is the best choice to continue as the alderman of the 8th Ward. While her opponent, Tara F. Baldridge, is a dedicated community activist, the experience that Harris exhibit is much needed for the community.

9th Ward

Anthony A. Beale      Incumbent

Alderman Beale serves as the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and the Public Way. In that position he has been able to push for and receive major economic development projects in his ward including the designation of the Pullman community as a National Landmark, a new Method manufacturing plant and the extension of the CTA train line to his ward. Alderman Beale has also gained improvements in public education and public safety in his ward. He has the trust of his community and is regarded as a major fighter in Chicago’s City Council.

16th Ward

Toni Foulkes      Incumbent

The 16th ward contest for City Council would have seen incumbents Joann Thompson and Toni Foulkes, formerly of the 15th ward, run against each other because of the changes in the 2010 redistricting. Unfortunately, Alderman Thompson recently died from heart failure. The fact that the Englewood community is divided between the 15th, 16th and 20th wards poses problems for of aldermen involved. For these reasons, we believe that this ward needs strong, decisive leadership and Toni Foulkes offers that leadership. We endorse Alderman Toni Foulkes.

17th Ward

David H. Moore

Upon withdrawing from her aldermanic seat, Latasha Thomas decided not to run for her 5th term in the 17th Ward. This in turn, provides an opportunity for a new alderman to step into the chair. Top contenders Glenda Franklin and David H. Moore are considered strong candidates. However, Moore has served in the public sector and brings a great deal of experience in understanding how to build within the system. We endorse his candidacy for the 17th Ward.

18th Ward

Derrick G. Curtis

The 18th ward is one of the few wards that has more than five candidates running which reveals that there is some discord within that ward. Although there are some challenges that the current incumbent Alderman Lona Lane faces, the dedication and connection that opponent Derrick G. Curtis shows is refreshing. Building community trust is important to move forward for change; therefore, we endorse Derrick G. Curtis for the 18th ward.

20th Ward

Willie B. Cochran         Incumbent

Incumbent Alderman Willie B. Cochran is a former policeman with years of experience in combating street crime. He has identified public safety and educational development in the ward as two of his top priorities. Cochran has received a great deal of notice for the rapid economic development that he has brought to the Washington Park and West Hyde Park areas of the ward. He is gradually building community trust from a previous administration that was torn and has met the challenge needed to bring about the unity of three different community areas within his ward. Therefore, we endorse Alderman Cochran.

21st Ward

Alderman Howard Brookins, Jr.

Alderman Brookins serves as the chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus and has worked consistently for the many improvements that he has seen in his ward. He has been able to bring about improvements in economic development through the Chatham Gateway project, which provides jobs for community residents.  His challenger Jeffrey Baker has built a strong presence in the ward with his CDL training program, which enables trainees to secure a license as an employable driver. We will keep an eye on this budding leader and his efforts in giving back to his community. Meanwhile, with his experience and knowledge of local government, Alderman Brookins continues to find ways to build development in the 21st ward. Thus, we endorse Alderman Brookins.

24th Ward

Michael Scott, Jr.

In the wake of the withdrawal of incumbent Alderman Michael Chandler, some ten candidates have emerged as contenders in the race for this seat. Among the break out candidates are Frank Bass and Vetress Boyce. Ms. Boyce has built a solid campaign with her connection with residents and experience as a business woman. However, in the course of the campaign, Michael Scott, Jr. has become the stand out candidate. Scott is an employee of the Chicago Park District and has been a tireless worker with the youth in North Lawndale. While his most viable opponent is Boyce, we believe his community roots, relationship building and a fresh, young outlook represent the leadership that is needed in the 24th ward. Thus, we endorse Michael Scott, Jr.

27th Ward

Walter Burnett, Jr.         Incumbent

Alderman Burnett serves as the chairman of Special Events and Cultural Affairs in the City Council. He is an able and seasoned alderman who delivers for his ward. He has brought numerous economic development projects that have built supported revenue streams for the city overall. He continues to fight for better education and improvements in public safety for all sectors of his ward. Burnett clearly has gained the trust of the community and we are sure that the 27th ward will be best served with him at the helm for another term.

28th Ward

Jason Ervin      Incumbent

No opposition.

29th Ward

Deborah Graham        Incumbent

Alderman Deborah Graham has had the dubious task of rebuilding community trust from a former alderman who was convicted of corruption. It is important that the alderman understand the overall needs of the ward through ongoing communication with organizations, educators, police commanders and small businesses, as well as parks and recreation. Alderman Graham has proven her abilities and has been instrumental in securing park improvements for both Columbus and Amundsen Parks that have included soccer, baseball and volleyball programs. We endorse Alderman Deborah Graham for the 29th ward.

34th Ward

Carrie Austin         Incumbent

Alderman Carrie Austin is a City Council veteran who is a clear leader in that body. She has worked well with the mayor and her fellow aldermen and has a reputation for hard work and taking on tough tasks. Alderman Austin is known for her relentless fighting for public education, public safety and economic development for small and larger businesses. We expect her return to the City Council on her crusade to make the 34th Ward a shining star in this city.

37th Ward

Emma Mitts            Incumbent 

Opponent Tara Stamps is a CPS teacher who is supported by the Chicago Teachers Union and is a dedicated community activist in the tradition of her deceased mother, Marian Stamps, who has never served in public office. Alderman Mitts, however, has the greater name recognition and experience in government. She has earned the trust of the community which is rapidly growing in diversity. Mitts has worked to expand on more economic development, better public education and improvements in public safety. Thus, we believe that she deserves to be reelected and we endorse incumbent Alderman Emma Mitts.

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