To the Editor:
We enthusiastically support Norman Bolden for 4th Ward alderman. Every neighborhood in the city deserves an independent, progressive, effective, accountable alderman, but Hyde Park has a particularly long, proud tradition in this regard.
This progressive tradition, unfortunately, has not continued with Ald. Will Burns. Mr. Burns has consistently supported powerful and moneyed interests over those of his constituents and then cynically claimed otherwise: he did not fight for Dyett High School when the chips were down, then tried to claim credit when community pressure to save Dyett proved effective; he stood (literally) with Rahm Emanuel on a smaller, slower increase to the minimum wage rather than join the progressive push for $15/hour; he very publicly co-sponsored a bill to return some TIF funds to the public schools rather than keeping them as a mayoral/aldermanic slush fund to give to developers, but then rather less publicly avoided voting to move that bill out of committee when it turned out there were enough sponsors to pass it. He did respond with lightning speed to a small handful of particularly well-connected ward residents who objected to a historical preservation plan for two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Kenwood, killing the idea before any meaningful community dialog could take place.
At a recent candidate forum covered in the Herald, Ald. Burns was questioned about joining the Progressive Caucus in the City Council. He responded, “I don’t need a caucus to negotiate with Rahm Emanuel…If I have an issue with the mayor about things that are important to my ward, I talk to the mayor about it.” This is the heart of the matter — Burns believes, as he told Chicago Magazine recently, that “the best negotiations are done behind closed doors.” In our view, that is not a Hyde Park or 4th Ward value and it makes for an alderman who is only effective at getting those things done that the back-room dealers want done. As the Sun-Times recently reported, Burns’s loyalty to Mayor Emanuel has earned him the financial backing of Emanuel’s super PAC Chicago Forward.
Norman Bolden is committed to progressive values. He is beholden to no one and understands the importance of listening to his constituents, not just holding meetings to give the appearance of community input while negotiating the real deals behind closed doors. Norman knows how to lead, how to manage, and how to get things done. He has a long record as a successful businessman in our community, with businesses such as Room 43, home of the Hyde Park Jazz Society’s weekly shows, and the popular Norman’s Bistro on 43rd Street. He has served Kenwood-Oakland as a member of the 2nd Police District Advisory council and an LSC member at King College Prep. He was instrumental in bringing the Komed Health Center to the community and has revitalized 43rd Street with both culture and businesses. As the SECC said when awarding Norman the 2012 Unsung Hero Award, “He is a veteran community activist and leader with a proven track record for working side-by-side with fellow residents and stakeholders.”
We urge residents of the 4th Ward to vote for Norman Bolden: a leader who listens and an alderman with Hyde Park values.