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After spending a month mulling over the resumes of 22 eligible applicants, Mayor Richard Daley may have plugged the aldermanic hole for the 29th Ward by appointing state Rep. Deborah Graham (78th) on Monday.

Graham’s position as alderman is still dependent on approval by the City Council; however, according to a source in the mayor’s office, “Graham will be sworn in as 29th Ward alderman at the April 14 City Council meeting.”

Speaking by phone with Austin Weekly News, state Rep. LaShawn Ford (8th) said of Graham’s chances: “I’ve spoken with many members of the City Council and it’s [going to] work out for her.”

If she gets the nod, Graham plans to relinquish her post in Springfield, along with a job at the city’s Department of Planning and Development, in order to focus her attention in the community she’s resided for much of her life.

When asked about her decision to apply, Graham told AWN that she wanted to work closer to home and that she had accumulated the experience necessary to serve the community.

“I think that we’re [29th Ward] in a unique position to fuse the state experience with the aldermanic situation…and bring the knowledge to that seat,” she said. “We have a number of issues that we deal with on a daily basis, and I think I can relate to them.”

Graham expressed a desire to reach out to the community and operate visibly and personably. She said one of her chief goals is to continue community meetings to unify the ward.

The alderman-designate also plans to strongly support gun control, scrutinize options for job creation, and work towards stressing the importance of education.

On the topic of education, she said: “Our kids don’t want to be out on the corner…we have to encourage young people.”

Graham added that she wanted to “continue the services of her predecessor” – Isaac Carothers – and that much of the community was content with the manner in which he kept the ward “clean.”

When asked to elaborate, Graham said she was referring to garbage being picked up and potholes being filled, among other services. She maintained that the community appreciated this and was ready to move past Carothers’ legal issues. 

Last month Carothers pled guilty to federal charges of fraud and bribery, and resigned on Feb. 1.

“I think it is important for all elected officials to make sure we maintain the people’s trust by doing our jobs, and making sure we are available to provide the services,” Graham said. “They want the services; they’re looking for jobs and at other issues- they’re ready to move on.”

A lifelong West Sider

Except for a couple of years, Deborah Graham has spent all of her life in the Austin community. The lifelong West Sider attended George W. Collins High School. A survivor of domestic violence, she spent 1994 and 1995 in a West Side shelter. That difficult experience, Graham believes, helped mold her into who she is today.

She feels that her trials and tribulations have produced within her a sense of empathy for others – it’s a quality Graham deems vital to any politico.

“When you relate to [people] and tell them your personal stories, people appreciate that you can come down to their level,” Graham said.