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46th Ward forum addresses social issues

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Social service agencies in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood had a chance to put their questions to ten candidates for 46th Ward alderman on Wednesday. The office has been occupied for the last 24 years by Alderman Helen Shiller, who announced in August that she would not seek a seventh term. Now there are eleven candidates vying for that seat on the City Council, and it’s likely that voters won’t settle the contest until the runoff election in April.

The forum was hosted by ONE, the Organization of the North East, and drew nearly 500 audience members to the People’s Church of Chicago. Candidates began with one-minute introductions of themselves (they begin around 4:40 in the posted audio). Attending candidates were: Befekadu Retta; Mary Anne “Molly” Phelan; Michael Carroll; Don Nowotny; James Cappleman; Diane Shapiro; Andy Lam; Emily Stewart; Marc Kaplan; and Scott Baskin. One candidate did not attend– Caitlin McIntyre.
“Ms. McIntyre did not respond to any correspondence and attempts to meet with her until a couple of days before the forum,” explained ONE Executive Director Jamiko Rose. “At that point we could not amend our agenda to include her and work within the time frame that we had publicized.”
ONE member organizations generated and asked the questions, which were not previously shown or sent to the candidates. Each candidate had one minute to answer each question, and the first person to answer each question was selected at random.
Here’s a guide of where questions begin in the audio file:
  1. How will you work with the community to address safety? (16:16)
  2. How will you work with the community to develop and maintain high quality affordable housing in the ward and what are your views on the Sweet Home Chicago Ordinance? (27:13)
  3. What ideas do you have to support mental health and addiction services in the community? (38:05)
  4. How would you support efforts to improve our neighborhood schools, specifically for undocumented students? (48:38)
  5. What are your views on maintaining the shelters and transitional housing in the community? (59:53)
  6. What is your vision for developing the community and what changes do you hope to see in four years? (1:11:31)
The next alderman for the 46th Ward will have to contend with Uptown’s growing pains, which have become pronounced since the last city council election in 2007. Historically, Uptown has held a concentration of non-profit service organizations to help people at the economic and social margins. For a long time, Alderman Shiller had built a reputation as a strong advocate for them and had committed to keeping mental health, affordable housing, and substance abuse services in the ward. But Shiller came under increasing pressure from different constituencies. For one, social services and affordable housing were difficult to hold onto as property values rose. Also, wealthier residents moved into the ward, and many of them questioned Shiller’s legislative priorities. 

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