Election day is only a few weeks away. While there has been high drama and high media coverage surrounding the mayoral race, aldermanic seats are also up for the taking. Chicago is made up of 50 wards and each alderman acts as a mini-mayor of their ward, their territory, and the residents who live there. Aldermen make about $110,556 a year and while some do this job full-time, it is technically a part-time job. While garbage pick up, street cleaning and crime are always top priorities of any ward office, so should be education.
If you recall, while Raise Your Hand pressured Mayor Daley to give back the TIF money for education, it ultimately fell on the city council...the 50 aldermen...to vote yea or nay. They also vote on other budget issues, like whether or not to lease out the city's parking meters. Yes, that decision came through the city council and it's aldermen. Every ward has it's own needs right now. Those needs may be addressing gang activity, increasing small businesses to the area or improving the condition of equipment on the playgrounds. What ever your concerns are, add education to the list. Last spring Raise Your Hand contacted the ward offices and the majority of them did not know the schools within their own wards. Here are three questions every aldermanic candidate should know:
1. What are the schools in your ward?
To take this question further: What are the needs of those schools? Will you be willing to attend a few local school council meetings throughout the school year?
2. How many TIF districts are in your ward? What projects have been paid for by TIF money?
3. Do you support TIF reform? How would you suggest it be reformed?
Somewhere along the line, politicians have attained some sort of celebrity status. They are not celebrities. They are public servants and your tax dollars pay their salaries. Do not be intimidated or shy about contacting them and asking how they intend to serve you. Most of these candidates have email addresses on their websites. Go that route if you feel uncomfortable picking up the phone. Regardless of how you question them, do it. They should be working to earn your vote.