Roman Morrow believes Austin should get back to the kind of old-fashioned values that were instilled in him as a child growing up in the West Side community.

“People should be treated with respect. Everyone should be willing to work together. That’s how things are going to get done here,” says 34-year-old. “Everyone can help build community.”

A lot is absent in Austin, he argues-a state-of-the-art community center for young people; job training and positions for ex-offenders returning to the neighborhood. Etiquette classes to teach teens how to respect their elders; stronger programs for seniors; better curfew enforcement; and free festivals that can bind the neighborhood together.

As he ticks off his long list of Austin’s needs, Morrow acknowledges there’s a challenge in paying for it all. Budgets are tight and the list of priorities great, he noted. Community groups and the Chicago Park District could step up to help set up and operate a center for youngsters, he said. Grants, state funds and TIF (tax increment financing) money can help pay for job training, he says, and local businesses can sponsor festivals.

And, he adds, parents should be warned, and then fined, if their children are out past the mandatory curfew deadline.

This is Morrow’s first run for public office. He quit his position as a news archivist for WLS-TV last year to prepare for it. A graduate of Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School in 1991 and Orr Academy High School in 1995, he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Columbia College in 1999.

Morrow promises to serve only three terms in the Chicago City Council if he doesn’t accomplish enough for the 29th Ward.

-Deborah Kadin, Austintalks.org

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