It was by mere chance that Tommy Abina moved to the West Side.

For 20 years he had lived on the North Side, mainly in Rogers Park and Uptown. His large family got too big for their small home, and the Abinas decided it was time to move.

Abina had his heart set on a nice three-bedroom house in Westchester, but two days before he and his wife, Debbie, planned to put money down, Abina got a call. There was a building available on the West Side, a real estate friend of his said¡ªand that the couple should take a look at it.

He was reluctant at first. But when the couple realized they could buy a much bigger house for $40,000 less, they switched their sights to Austin. Today, 10 years later, he says it’s time for another change¡ªa new alderman for North Austin.

“People in the 37th Ward have given Emma (Mitts) the chance to run the ward,” Abina said. “They have put their trust in her to run the ward, but in my book, she has done a poor job.”

He made his first, yet unsuccessful run against Mitts in 2007.

He says he’s learned a lot about the issues facing the 37th Ward: crime, unemployment and a lack of local businesses. He has a wide range of ideas on how to solve these problems¡ªincluding creating partnerships with the City Colleges of Chicago, and establishing programs for ex-offenders in the ward.

Originally from Nigeria, Abina immigrated to the United States 31 years ago. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from Northeastern Illinois University. He later earned a master’s degree in public administration from Governors State University.

-Margaret Smith,

To learn more about Tommy O. Abina: