By Norman H. Bolden
I was born and raised in the neighborhoods of the 4th Ward. I believe wholeheartedly in the right of all families in the ward to live, work and retire with dignity and fairness. This is why I am running for alderman of the 4th Ward.
My father moved to this community from Augusta, Ga., in the early ‘50s. He became a city of Chicago firefighter at a time when there were few African American men on the force. After a number of years on the force, he opened The Royal Flush TV Repair and Record Shop on 43rd Street, a business he ran until his passing in 1994. It was his drive and determination that inspired me to serve.
During my junior year of high school, I obtained an internship at WGCI radio through the Community Economic Development Administration (CEDA). This turned into a 25-year career in radio marketing and advertising, one that took me literally from the mailroom to the boardroom.
What I saw in my father — his drive, determination and understanding that there can be no growth in simply remaining comfortable — instilled a desire for me to serve my community. I opened Room 43 in the building that housed my father’s shop and Norman’s Bistro just down the street. The commercial strip I have since developed now houses several businesses.
As a businessman, I have been an active member of my community, sitting on the 2nd Police District Advisory Committee, the board of Near North Health Services and the King College Prep local school council. I have worked closely with the Hyde Park Jazz Society and independent artists to bring music, art and culture to North Kenwood and Oakland.
My vision for the 4th Ward is that every resident has access to high-quality services, fair treatment and transparency in government. As alderman, I will be accessible, responsive and an effective advocate for my constituents.
As the only candidate in this race who is a business owner with a track record of job creation, I will continue to develop our workforce, grow our economy and stabilize our communities. I will champion reforms that level the playing field for small businesses and that create fair-paying jobs in the neighborhoods. I will fight to invest in youth employment and reinvest our tax dollars in our communities.
As a Chicago public school graduate, I am keenly aware that access to a quality neighborhood school is vital in helping children realize their promise. As alderman, I will stand up for quality neighborhood schools. I am also the only candidate in this race who stands with parents to stop the closing of schools and install an elected representative school board. We must support proven, evidence-based education reforms, and move beyond experiments that produce mediocre results.
My vision for the ward includes:
Economic development and jobs
My decision to open Room 43 and Norman’s Bistro came from a desire to see economic growth in the community where I was born and raised. Development has been stagnant in some places and in other places, decisions are being made without community input. I will ensure that development is transparent, thoughtful and equitable throughout the ward, so that current residents are not displaced or ignored. As alderman, I will continue to focus on business development along commercial corridors — development that is supported by local residents and that will bring jobs to the community. Chief among this is prioritizing use of TIFs for small businesses that hire locally, targeting areas with the highest need and ensuring that the community is involved in zoning decisions. As a representative of Raise Chicago, I stood for a $15 minimum wage; I firmly believe that the recent legislation passed by city council and promoted by our current alderman does not go far enough.
Supporting neighborhood schools and education
We need strong, quality neighborhood schools that are equitably funded. Every child deserves the opportunity to go to a world-class school in his or her own neighborhood. As a member of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett, I have fought for this right, and I will continue to do so. I will also fight for an elected representative school board.
Serving our seniors and supporting housing
I believe that safe well-maintained housing should be available to everyone, regardless of income. We need to hold owners and management companies accountable for maintaining safe, decent housing for families and seniors. Many areas of the ward have lost thousands of units of housing over the past decade. We need to preserve units that are currently affordable for working families and ensure that new developments includes set-asides families.
Safety and accountability
I believe that communities can and should be made safer from the ground up to address the cause of violence. As a member of the second police district advisory council, I have worked closely with the second district in addressing the issue of violence. We need to direct more resources toward effective policing and work in partnership with residents to address safety concerns. Furthermore, we need more resources for youth and teen in the Fourth Ward.
As I travel around the ward I hear from residents their concerns about an inclusive process, accountability and responsible development. As alderman, I will work to build partnerships to deliver high-quality services and ensure fair treatment, and transparency. The Fourth Ward deserves no less.