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Ward 5 Runoff Reflections

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Ward 5 is one of twelve wards with retiring Alderpeople and is one of the eight races currently in a runoff. Martina ‘Tina’ Hone and Desmon Yancy are campaigning for votes to replace 24 year veteran Alderperson Leslie Hairston. Both Yancy and Hone share a passion for the city and a love for the community. Each of them are uniquely qualified and reflect the talent and progressiveness of the 5th Ward. Financial support for their respective campaigns are quite telling. A Block Club analysis of donation records shows Yancy, the seasoned organizer backed by labor unions whereas Hone is supported by individuals. The trust of the unions is a powerful cosign in a union grounded like Chicago. Despite Yancy’s backing by the unions, Hones' platform leverages her policy background including working for the Lightfoot administration.

“I spent twenty years working on a range of policies nearly all on equity, my professional experience makes me uniquely qualified to be the Alderperson of the 5th ward,” said Hone.

Voter turnout
Overall ward 5 had the fourth highest voter turnout in the municipal election with 41.25% of registered voters casting ballots. Of the 12,034 who chose to vote 1,358 didn't vote for an alderperson. Yancy was the clear front runner with nearly 26% of the wards vote with Hone closely following at 18.6% of the votes. As April 4th  approaches candidates have taken to the media to articulate plans and convince constituents they are each the best person to bring together the diverse and powerful ward. Hone has received the support of others from the 5th ward race including Dee Perkins and Jocelyn Hare.

Ward geography and politics of diversity
“I grew up in a low-income home. We lived paycheck to paycheck. I understand the struggles this ward faces in a deeply personal way. I also understand the opportunities in this ward because I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my education from the University of Chicago,” said Hone. The diversity Hone speaks of can be seen as eclectic adding to the culture of Hyde Park, whereas income diversity in other parts of the ward can be seen as an impediment to having residents needs and prioritization in ward development opportunities and decisions.

“All across the ward people want to be represented in a fair  way and they want to trust their unique needs are going to be heard,” said Hone. Yancy acknowledges how that diversity plays out across the ward and the type of inclusive decision making it will take for ward 5 to thrive. “Displacement within the ward is a real concern for residents and communities like South Shore for example has 3 Alderpeople. We have to be able to discuss development and investments across ward boundaries, because we share the same community,” said Yancy.

Yancy acknowledged proximity to the lakefront  and lower price points make a community like South Shore attractive for investors but erases the character of the community when developers enter with a purely profit driven mentality. What voters should understand is the incoming Alderperson will need to work with at minimum eight other elected officials because of abutting ward boundaries in the community. A strong candidate has the ability to navigate the needs of adjacent wards and leverage the collective priorities of the surrounding communities in City Hall.

Ward 5 is one of 50

“I want to build a more equitable city, I know how to look at systems.” - Hone

The newly elected decision maker will be working alongside 49 other peers. “Across the city there is a disparity between how the North and South Side of Chicago accesses services using 311,” shared Hone. She lifted up the delay in city services in ‘Black communities' in part because of the system that does not work and has plans for addressing the failed process if elected. “The North side is getting their needs met faster because they use 311. One of my solutions is to coordinate with city employees and develop a complimentary app or process to 311 that works for our needs,” she shared.

“We can’t address the issues in ward 5 in a silo,” said Yancy. “I’m interested in public safety and police accountability. I see myself engaging on those committees that focus on policing  because that is my background. I also see myself ideal for the budgeting committee. I believe I could have a real impact on finances and allocation of funds,” he shared.

Summertime Chi and open air vibes
With increased development pressures from the Obama Center the lakefront communities of the 5th ward have experience with private investors encroaching on open space. Summertime draws thousands of visitors to the South Side communities and there are rising tensions over everything from public safety to affordability, traffic and protecting opportunities for Black owned events like the Hyde Park Summerfest.

“Summertime events generate a local economy and in some cases events like Hyde Park Summerfest become a destination event. Other businesses benefit from restaurants to ride shares. Imagine a Ravinia style concert at South Shore Cultural Center for example. Our open spaces are some of the best in the city and we should do more to support.” said Yancy.

Yancy envisions 71st street as an arts corridor “I’ve met a number of artists and musicians that call South Shore home. Maggie and the late Oscar Brown are from there and the galleries that should be highlighted to draw in visitors to compliment the other aspects of the community and can be valuable in changing the perception of the community and the types of investments that would expand open air events. It is time for people to know what is so beautiful about the community of South Shore,” Yancy said.

“I’ve been to lots of Park Advisory Council meetings and I’m building relationships with the advisory councils to listen to priorities. I’ve listened to the owners of the Hyde Park Summerfest and learned their plans for protecting the open space.  Spaces without cultural connections can cause conflict. Douglas Park festivals for example aren’t connected to the community and events should be used as a destination to draw people in. The parks belong to everyone and my leadership style is one of balance. How do we get maximum benefit and cause minimal harm? I know the leaders of Chicago city departments and I have an ability to navigate this city and it makes me more than capable for leading the 5th ward,” said Hone.

With their very different backgrounds but same love for the ward and mobilization of equity for Black people and the city of Chicago…who will get your vote? More importantly what is your commitment as a 5th ward resident and business owner to ensure no matter who takes office your voice is heard.

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About Author:

Dr. Mila Marshall is an environmental professional and journalist with a passion for advancing sustainability in all sectors. Her passion is directed towards urban food systems in segregated cities.



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