A Chicago police officer and the managing partner of a law firm has big plans for the 29th Ward if he is elected as the new alderman in the Feb. 24, election.
Chris Taliaferro of Belmont Heights will face seven other candidates, including incumbent Ald. Deborah Graham, fellow attorneys Lawrence Andolino, La Coulton J. Walls and Bob Galhotra; community activists Oddis “O.J.” Johnson and Zerlina A. Smith; and community college professor Stephen Robinson.
Taliaferro said there has been a drastic increase in homicides, robberies, gunshot wounds and sexual assaults in the 29th ward over the last several years.
“I believe we can attribute some of the crime increase to the lack of police officers,” he said. “We need to consider hiring more police officers and do it very quickly. An increase in crime is a gateway to poor community and economic development, and a lack of resources being pulled into the community.”
Taliaferro, a managing partner of Nexus Legal Group, said his passion is to decrease crime in the ward, so it can become a viable community.
The police officer said he’s also passionate about bringing more businesses, such as libraries, grocery stores and community centers to North Avenue.
“There needs to be a place where youth can go after school,” Taliaferro said. “When we look at Austin, we have a very high poverty and unemployment rate. It’s important to bring businesses to our community that will hire people from our community as well.”
Taliaferro said he’s a strong advocate for ensuring that financial resources earmarked for developing projects in Chicago makes its way to the 29th ward.
The police officer said there are four programs geared toward neighborhood development and that these programs have $3 billion in funding.
Funds from these programs have only been used to rehab eight homes in the 29th ward, he claimed.
“Nothing else of significance has been given to the communities in the ward,” Taliaferro said.
Taliaferro said current Alderman Graham has displayed a lack of leadership and that her voting record has been 100 percent with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“An alderman is an advocate for the children, families, businesses and seniors in our communities. She has not been an effective advocate for any of these,” Taliaferro said.
“If we look at the issue of closing 25 CPS schools, Graham didn’t stand strong with our Chicago Teachers Union fighting the closures, while other aldermen took a strong stance on that issue,” he said. “They realized the impact closing a school would have on our families and children.”
Taliaferro, who has served as a police officer for the 25th district for more than 20 years, said he will use his experience, passion and commitment to serve the ward so it can prosper in ways that it hasn’t in the last four years.
The candidate is originally from Smithfield, Virginia, and graduated from Lewis University in Romeoville in 2003 and from John Marshall Law School in 2007.