The Chicago Defender is taking a weekly look into the accomplishments and activities of the aldermen serving predominantly African American neighborhoods within the greater South and West sides of Chicago.
Fifth Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston has served sections of the Jackson Park, Woodlawn, Parkway Gardens, Grand Crossing, and South Shore neighborhoods since first being elected in 1999. She previously served the state of Illinois as an assistant attorney general and as a staff attorney and special prosecutor for the State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s Office.
Currently, Hairston, who was recently elected to her fifth term in office, serves on six committees for the City Council: health and environmental protection; special events, cultural affairs and recreation; budget and governmental operations; finance; committees, rules and ethics; and holds the vice chair position for economic, capital, and technology among several joint committees.
According to crime reports by the Chicago Police Department, the fifth ward, which consists of sections of the second and third districts, have seen an overall decrease in violent crime in the last four years. The second district witnessed a four percent decrease in the total number of violent crimes for the week of April 10-16 in 2017 (661) compared to 2013 (688). The third district saw a seven percent decrease over the same period of time going from 861 violent crimes in 2013 to 802 in 2017.
The fifth ward is home to multiple elementary and high schools. Listed are a few of the schools ranked by CPS’ School Quality Rating Policy. According to CPS’ website, the QRP measures a school’s annual performance based on but not limited to school culture and climate, student test score performance, student academic growth, attendance, graduation rate, preparation for post-graduation success, and more. CPS’ QRP ranks schools on a 1+,1, 2+, 2, 3 scale with 1+ being the highest possible score.
1. Hyde Park Academy, 6220 S. Stony Island Ave., Level 2.
2. Henry O. Tanner Elementary School, 7350 S. Evans Ave., Level 2+.
3. Andrew Carnegie Elementary School, 1414 E. 61st Pl., Level 1.
4. Isabelle C O’Keeffe Elementary School, 6940 S. Merrill Ave., Level 1.
5. Woodlawn Community Elementary School, 6657 S. Kimbark Ave., Level 1.
6. James Madison Elementary School, 7433 S. Dorchester Ave., Level 2.
7. Bret Harte Elementary School, 1556 E. 56th St., Level 1.
Ald. Hairston has either sponsored or co-sponsored several key pieces of legislation introduced and passed in the City of Chicago’s City Council. Listed are some of the more notable ordinances and resolutions she contributed to.
•Co-sponsored an ordinance to repeal the “Trump Plaza” designation of N. Wabash Ave. from E. Illinois St. to the main branch of the Chicago River.
•Co-sponsored a resolution that called for hearings on minority recruitment and employment practices at Chicago Transit Authority.
•Co-sponsored a resolution to reaffirm the commitment to an Agreement in Principle executed with U.S. Department of Justice to negotiate reforms ensuring sustainable, constitutional and effective policing.
According to the City of Chicago’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) website portal, the fifth ward possessed several viable TIF districts. TIF funds are used to build and repair roads and infrastructure, clean polluted land and put vacant properties back to use. Listed below are some of the TIF projects along with their budgets. Go to https://webapps1.cityofchicago.org/ChicagoTif/ for a detailed listing of every project.
1. 71st & Stony Island Ave. – Redevelopment/Intergovernmental Agreements – TIF Investments: $2,075,000; Non-TIF Investments – $21,402,496; Total: $23,477,496
• The 71st & Stony Island TIF district has 10 projects listed.
• Starbucks – A 1,626 sq. ft. Starbucks located at 7101 S. Stony Island Ave. was constructed including a 13-car parking lot, drive-thru, and an outdoor seating area cost $1.4 million including $225,000 in approved TIF payment (principal).
2. 73rd & University Ave. – TIF Investments: $652,796; Non-TIF Investments – $1,507,979; Total: $2,160,775
•Pedestrian Safety Improvements: 7200 S. South Chicago Ave. – $240,000
• Gary Comer Youth Center’s garden project, 7200 S. Ingleside Ave. – Total Project Cost: $2,160,775; Approved TIF Payment (Principal): $652,796. The project included the sale of 1.75 acres of City-owned property to Comer Science and Education Foundation which allowed for the increase in the number of hoop houses and growing areas, bike parking, garden storage area, a wind turbine for garden irrigation, and the construction of a farmer’s market space.
3. Woodlawn – TIF Investments – $4,750,425; Non-TIF Investments – $21,917,357; Total – $26,667,782
• The Woodlawn TIF district has more than 20 projects listed.