Austin is a beautiful place to live-that’s what Maretta Brown-Miller thinks.

Ask the Chicago Park District staff assistant why she’s lived in the area almost 30 years, and she talks about her love for the people and what makes her neighborhood so aesthetically pleasing.

“There’s a lot of history here,” Brown-Miller said. “These homes, you would be surprised by the architecture. It’s just a beautiful place to be.”

Not to say that there isn’t work to be done, she notes. The mother of three also understands there are plenty of challenges facing the 37th Ward.

A Chicago native, Brown-Miller, who’s running for her first ever political office, moved to Austin 28 years ago from North Lawndale’s K-Town neighborhood. She had always liked this side of town, Brown-Miller says, and when she found a good apartment she decided to move.

Back then, the area was much different than it is today, she recalled-the commercial strips along busy streets like Chicago Avenue and Division Street were thriving. Today, vacant storefronts are common in Austin, and residents worry about crime. That’s why Brown-Miller has made as her No. 1 priority cleaning up the streets of the 37th Ward.

Brown-Miller proposes creating a special council that would meet with the alderman monthly. The group would discuss economic issues in the ward. It would also hold businesses accountable if their storefronts are messy and unsanitary. Brown-Miller says if elected, she would talk to district police commanders and sergeants about increasing the number of officers in the neighborhood. She would also like to set up a community council to focus on safety.

-Margaret Smith, Austintalks.org

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