The Chicago Sun-Times this week endorsed incumbent aldermen for the 28th and 37th wards, while the Chicago Tribune threw its support behind one, but backed a relatively unknown candidate in the other.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) and Ald. Ed Smith (28th) were both endorsed by the Sun-Times on Monday. The Sun-Times and Tribune announced their endorsements for all Chicago aldermen and other city races this week. The Sun-Times stated, “Mitts has single-handedly worked to bring retailers such as Wal-Mart and Menards to her disadvantaged area.”
Of Smith, the paper stated, “He has represented this West Side ward ably since 1983 and is a forceful presence in the City Council.”
The Tribune also endorsed Mitts, appointed by Mayor Daley in 2001 to replace former 37th Ward alderman Percy Giles, who was among a number of aldermen convicted of corruption in 2000. Giles is running for his old seat in next Tuesday’s primary election. Four other candidates are running in the 37th Ward.
In the 28th Ward, however, the Tribune endorsed one of Smith’s opponents, Shawn Walker, a construction consultant and community activist.
“Smith has had 24 years in the City Council, but, sadly, he doesn’t get enough things done,” the paper said.
Walker, who ran against Smith in 2003, garnering 31 percent of the vote in that election, “would bring fresh ideas and new vigor to the office,” the Tribune said.
Smith faces four other opponents in the race.
29th Ward Ald. Isaac Carothers is running unopposed.
Fresh face for the 28th?
Ed Smith was elected in the same election year that saw Harold Washington, the city’s first, and only, black mayor, elected. But the Tribune decided to back Walker, a relatively unknown candidate.
In an interview with the Austin Weekly News, Walker talked about his plans for the 28th Ward if elected.
Walker, a single father and Westinghouse High School graduate, was born on the West Side. He is a former construction project manager for the City of Chicago, and currently works as a Chicago Park District baseball coach. He also advocates for disadvantaged, minority and women businesses in construction. He has bachelor of science in business management.
AWN: What are your plans for the 28th Ward?
Walker: One of the things is to help change the mindset of the community. Give our community an opportunity to believe and hope that new leadership is going to help the residents of the 28th Ward. Also, I want to fight for the schools and bring back business. The reason I want to fight for the schools is that the 28th Ward does not have a viable high school. Schools in the 28th Ward are not viable because 1) they are on academic probation and 2) are reconstructed or closed in order to be reopen. This does not allow students in the 28th Ward to get the benefit of a good quality education.
For example, Westinghouse has been approved for a new school. However, it has been delayed for two more years because of cost. Westinghouse was approved along with Kelvin Park High and Pilsen Little Village High and both of these schools have been built and open for a cost of around $65 million while Westinghouse High remains delayed due to the selection of a general contractor and minority participation, along with cost increases.
All of the West Side high schools are in the 28th Ward: Orr, Westinghouse, Marshall, Austin, Flowers. Manley and Collins border the 28th Ward. None of these schools are providing the quality education for the students they deserve to have. This is another reason we have problems with young people in the ward. If they had a quality education, there would not be time to get into trouble. We need social activities in the ward such as bowling alleys-recreational and social activities that will help provide an opportunity for our youth.
AWN: What are your plans to address HIV/AIDS on the West Side?
Walker: One of the things I look forward to doing regarding drugs and HIV/AIDS is to bring business and city services into the community and make the residents aware of the services, as well as social programs that will come to the community to help educate, finance, as well as donate material to those dealing with this problem.
Our current alderman is chairman of the Health Committee, yet the services that are needed for the 28th Ward do not exist. The reason why it is important to have those services in the community is to prevent residents from being ashamed, embarrassed or rejected because they are dealing with these issues. It would be helpful if these health issues were readily accessible in our community.
I would like to create a commercial corridor in our community. Our current alderman is co-chair of the zoning board. Sitting on this board prevents our community from having an imbalance and, as a leader in the community, it is important to have a balance. I want to provide the 28th Ward with this type of leadership whereby the entire community is served and not just some of the residents.
28th Ward candidates/Ballot no.
Ed Smith (incumbent)/51
Chubby C. Rover/52
Shawn A. Walker/55
Alexzandual “Alex” M. Lyons/57
37th Ward candidates/Ballot no.
Emma Mitts (incumbent)/51
Tommy O. Abina/53
Percy Z. Giles/55
Arlene P. Jones/56
Eric P. McKennie/57
The city primary election is next Tuesday, Feb. 27.