EDITORIAL: Who is Sophia King?

“Who is she?”

From the moment Sophia King was selected by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the Interim Alderman of the 4th Ward, due to former Ald. Burns’ abrupt exit in February for a position at Airbnb, the most prominent question from Hyde Park residents has been “Who is she?”

We’ve received phone calls, emails and office visits from community members that involved that one question. Despite the Herald having published two articles on King [hpherald.com, April 12; Hyde Park Herald, April 20], they still want to know why she hasn’t been as visible in community efforts as other residents who applied for the temporary position.

With this question as a constant in our day-to-day conversations with community members, when some of the leaders from the group that have been meeting at Room 43 to discuss the qualities they want to see in the next elected alderman asked if the Herald was interested in moderating a forum where King would be able to introduce herself to the community and answer their questions directly we thought it was a great idea. Not only would the Hyde Park Herald be providing a service to the community it has served for over 130 years, it would be creating a bridge between King, who appears to be sincere about wanting to engage in dialogue with the community, and those residents who seem to be suspicious about her appointment.

When people are left in the dark about who you are or what your intentions are they are subject to come up with their own conclusions. Being selected by a mayor who recently came under fire for suppressing video of the wanton shooting of Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke and succeeding Burns, an alderman who developed a reputation not just in the 4th ward but in city council for mainly concerning himself with what the mayor wanted him to do [Emanuel loyalist prosper in the new City Council power structure, April 29, 2016, Chicago Tribune; Black Aldermen Calling For McCarthy’s Firing, Oct. 5, 2015 chicago.cbslocal.com], it is only natural that a large number of Hyde Park residents would begin speaking out about their wariness of King due to her low profile.

We want King, Hyde Park residents and community activists to know that the Hyde Park Herald is an independent news source that is a voice for the Hyde Park Community. We are not here to take sides or support acts of intimidation. As a news organization that honors and follows the ethical standards of journalism, we offer a platform where the community can express their concerns and the alderman can address those concerns. We are totally invested in making sure everyone who lives, works and serves in this community has a voice.

King has announced that she will host a 4th Ward Town Hall Meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, May 16, at Northeastern Illinois University Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, 700 E. Oakwood Blvd. We support her decision to plan her own forum and we look forward to sharing our coverage of the event with the community.