Winner in 5th Ward must serve all the constituents

It appears that the 5th Ward will not have a certified winner in its aldermanic race for a while.

Candidate William Calloway has filed for a recount in his battle to unseat incumbent Ald. Leslie Hairston. The chances that another counting of the ballots will change the result is extremely slim, but it still leaves the ward in a state of uncertainty.

The race was extremely divisive, first in the Feb. 26 primary and then in the April 2 run-off. The latest count shows Hairston ahead by roughly 170 votes out of 13,869 votes cast.

The final winner, whoever it is, cannot hail the razor thin victory as a mandate. The 5th Ward winner will have received roughly 20 percent of approximately 32,000 voters registered in the ward.

To call the charges that flew during the campaign rancorous would be kind. The underlying sentiments expressed in numerous letters and comments to the Herald were laced with bitterness, often in phrases that could not be posted or printed.

The Herald is dedicated to being a forum for discussion of all the issues affecting Hyde Park and the 4th and 5th wards, but that discourse must be civil and respect the rights of all. Yet the Herald understands the frustrations of many in our readership area.

There are numerous hurdles to overcome – infrastructure woes, economic blight in South Shore, public safety concerns, fears of gentrification and dislocation, among them.

The Herald hopes that the winner recognizes the narrow margin of victory is a wake-up call. If it is Ald. Hairston, as is very likely, she needs to re-dedicate herself to actively serving her constituents and increasing her interaction with them.

She needs to answer the voters honestly and quickly when they ask questions such as:  Why is the Treasure Island site still sitting empty when they were told a new tenant would be announced by the end of the first quarter of 2019? If she doesn’t know the answer, she needs to find one.

She needs to improve her committee and voting attendance records in City Council, and her votes need to reflect her constituents’ desires.

If Mr. Calloway wins, then he needs to demonstrate to the ward’s voters that he is serious about advocating for his constituents’ benefit. He said he wanted to rejuvenate 71st Street. If he is seated, he needs to produce a detailed plan for how he will achieve that.

As a candidate, Calloway produced a “First Hundred Days” list of things he wanted to accomplish. If he becomes the alderman, he needs to turn those words into actions. He also should expand his focus into more of the ward outside the South Shore neighborhood.