Congratulations, Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson! Your acceptance speech on Election Night set the right tone, following the very emotionally charged election. As I sat and watched it, a lot of thoughts flowed through my mind: First, ‘He’s a Westsider!’ Your election has broken the stereotypes of us. We can dispel the notion that only the light complected Obama types can run and win. Secondly, the Westside can also produce sophisticated, well-spoken, and -educated persons. Your election has permanently eradicated the West Side’s position of being the stepchild to the more sophisticated South Side. In you, we are truly proving, “The West Side is the best side.” 

A minor side note to your speech is that you didn’t give thanks to the late Nancy Jefferson. I, too, am a transplant to Austin and the Westside. I grew in Cabrini Green, yet I can remember watching and hearing Ms. Jefferson as she advocated for the West Side via her Midwest Community Council. 

I would also remind you that Austin is the largest community in the city of Chicago. It is vibrant but it also has challenges. As you now have the bully pulpit, please be mindful of labeling where you and I live in a “one size fits all” manner. You have the opportunity to ask us to do better. You can ask us to show the world “Westside pride” in both attitude and behavior. Ask us to help your administration accomplish the goals you are setting by not only cleaning up, but keeping clean this side of town. Ask the native sons to do more. It is a challenge that has never been presented to Westsiders before. 

Brandon, I highly suggest that you take a scenic tour of all of Chicago. Sit back and just look at all the struggling business districts on all sides of this town. Ask your driver to take you down the side streets where you can see, firsthand, the struggle. You’ll see the houses that have maintenance deferred written all over them. The struggle is real. If you had to enter into a payment plan for water and parking, perhaps it is time to review the rip-off cost of both.

Lastly, remember to stay humble. Voters are persnickety. They will love you today and hate you tomorrow. Nothing is guaranteed but death and taxes, and one of them you can control.

P.S. This Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., I am doing a book signing at Afri-Ware, 1701 S. 1st Ave. Please join me as we spotlight this local business.