50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: 21st Ward’s Tracy Love Jones says ‘step up to the plate,’ Chicago

July 23, 2012

(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Tracy Love Jones is picked up at the Ashburn Metra station by her husband, Terry Jones.

You don’t want to mess with Tracy Love Jones. Reason #1: A PepsiCo employee, she works in human resources. You know, the people responsible for hiring – and for firing.

“All that good stuff,” she laughs.

We’ll get to more reasons not to mess with her in a moment, but first, a little about Love Jones’ neighborhood, Auburn Gresham.

“My neighborhood is going through changes,” she begins. “There’s some good changes and some bad.”

Let’s start with the good.

 

“We just received the new Wal-Mart, which is nice,” she says. “[I] go to the Wal-Mart and the other little shops over there.  [It’s] really nice to have something like that in our neighborhood instead of always having to travel to the suburbs or something like that to go to stores.”

Another good: Nearby Simeon High School, an “awesome school,” she says. Love Jones didn’t go there. She went to Catholic schools and grew up in the South Side’s Pullman area. But she’s clearly invested in Auburn Gresham.

“I don’t like the violence,” she says. “There’s a lot of gang violence, yes, and there’s a lot of stealing.”

 

“I’ve never been a victim of crime. You know, I have a pit bull, so my pit bull takes good care of me and I think that’s what makes me feel safe in this neighborhood. If I didn’t have my dog, I don’t know how I would quite feel about it.”

That pit bull, by the way, is reason #2 not to mess with Love Jones. So is that the answer to ending crime around Chicago? Pit bulls for everyone?

“I don’t think so, because I think you have to be responsible, you know?” she says. “I’m not having my dog fight. I’m not going to have my dog breeding so I can make extra money and all those negative things associated with dogs.”

But, if people take care of their pit pulls, get licenses and vaccines and such, “I think it’s better than getting a gun,” she says.

Love Jones has some non-canine ideas for stemming violence, and most have nothing to do with City Hall.

 

“On the one hand,” she says, “I think that we need to have more of a police presence in our neighborhood. But, at the same time, I do think that it’s our neighborhood and we need to start speaking up.  You know, when you see things happen in our neighborhood, don’t just turn the other cheek. Don’t say something only when you’re the victim.”

“We have to really step up to the plate and that means taking care of your kids, raising your kids. You know? Where are your kids at 6 o’clock or 10 o’clock? Your kids come home with a new pair of gym shoes and you didn’t buy [them], they got a pocketful of money, where are they getting that money from? It’s things like parenting, good parenting that we need to get back to.”

Love Jones doesn’t have children of her own, she says, but her husband does, and so does her twin sister, so she’s involved with kids.

“This is our city and we should be taking care of it. You know, we need to put back into our community, whether that’s supporting the small businesses or even the Wal-Mart or what have you,” she says. “We have to take responsibility and we can’t just rely on the politicians to do that.”

Speaking of politicians, let’s turn to the mayoral performance review. When I ask Love Jones how Rahm Emanuel is doing, she starts by talking about Richard Daley.

 

“I was a Daley fan. I miss Daley,” she says. “I think when Daley was in office, we were a city that just partied. I mean, I loved how he – the neighborhoods, all the flowers and all that good stuff, we had the [longer] Taste of Chicago. We had all those great things, but it just seems like that’s kind [of] being taken away slowly.”

That’s not a positive review, but it doesn’t sound like she’s ready to fire Emanuel just yet.  He’s still got time to win her over before Election 2015.