Since filing date passed, we have watched every available forum, read the campaign literature, studied the candidates in detail. We have been impressed by several of the candidates, including Ms. Walz, Mr. Nagle, and Ms. Williams. We think that any of the three will make a good alderperson for the 46th Ward. But the one candidate that stood above the others (and garnered the most votes in our internal poll) was Ms. Walz.
Ms. Walz has received an impressive slate of endorsements from Governor Pritzker, Senator Dick Durbin, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Congressman Mike Quigley, Senator Sara Feigenholtz and State Representative Ann Williams, Alderman Tom Tunney, and others in local government. She is connected with the folks who make things happen, and as we have seen, that is important and often necessary in getting the 46th Ward (Uptown's largest) the funding and services needed. However, she also has an impressive interest in governmental reform, with a history of real world accomplishments in the ethics and budgetary realm..
Beyond her experience in government and connections, our editors believe that it is important to have a socially responsible and forward thinking candidate. It is clear Ms. Walz has the social and personal bona fides, espousing a bevy of good ideas coupled with a long history of real world work on social issues that affect the 46th Ward.
Of particular relevance to the 46th Ward, Ms. Walz knows the challenges of substance abuse and mental illness firsthand, with a close family member struggling with those challenges, and she knows the ins and outs of the system well. She has worked on extending health insurance to low-income working families and the uninsured as part of her work (in a high level position) in a non-profit health insurance co-op. She has been an active volunteer with the House of Good Shepherd (supporting mothers and children living at the shelter), serves on the board of Kids Above All, a non-profit helping children and families who have survived trauma, and is a member of the leadership council of the Haymarket Center, a group that helps individuals and families suffering from the effects of substance abuse and mental illness. And in her professional life, where she serves as a liason between Walgreens Corporation and local governments, she has a real life track record of work that helps advance public health, equity for people of color, non-English speakers, and the undocumented population.
What about the others? Patrick Nagle got one vote in our internal poll. We think that Mr. Nagle has good potential, a long track record of civic service, and would make a good alderman. Ms. Walz ultimately got more votes because our editors believe it is time for a female voice to lead the Ward.
Like Mr. Nagle, Ms. Williams received a single vote in our internal poll. She is an impressive candidate with an interesting background and some important endorsements. We expect that she would do well as Alderwoman even if we didn't end up voting for her.
Neither Marianne Lalonde nor Angela Clay garnered a vote in our internal poll. We still remain gobsmacked about how Ms. Lalonde conducted herself in the last campaign, including refusing to concede the election to James Cappleman. We expect that from candidates in the Republican party, but it was a petty move and provided a good window into Ms. Lalonde's psyche.
For her part, Ms. Clay has little track record and has bound herself closely to former Alderman Helen Shiller, who was on hand when Ms. Clay announced her candidacy. Ald. Shiller is effectively looking for someone to pass the baton. In our view, a vote for Ms. Clay is effectively a vote for Helen Shiller and her favorite organizations to regain power in the 46th Ward.
We have witnessed a neighborhood that has made tremendous strides in public safety and livability over the past 12 years under Alderman Cappleman. If you asked us what we expected to see in 2011 when he was sworn in for the first time, we were most hopeful for a change from a status quo that was willing to accept regular gang shootings and street crime as part of the "fabric" of the neighborhood. That change has happened, in large part, due to the work of police, the Alderman and his office, neighborhood groups, and Uptown's citizens, who have worked together to make Uptown a safe, clean and desirable location.
We started this blog in 2007 because we were sick of the way Uptown was in the thrall of special interests who had no interest in the neighborhood ever improving. The status quo (and worse) were acceptable, as was the loss of life and subhuman living conditions that accompanied it. We don't want to return to the way things were under Helen Shiller, which is what a vote for Ms. Clay (or Ms. Lalonde) would bring.
In 2007, we would have never envisioned an Uptown that now makes worldwide best neighborhood lists, and we want the neighborhood to continue to progress, rather than regress, over the next 4 years. Our editors think Kim Walz is the best choice to move the 46th ward forward, while ensuring no one gets left behind.