5th district seat contest opens for the first time in 24 years

A professional boxer, a religious charity director, a teacher and two lawyers vie for succession to the retired Aldo. Leslie Hairston in Ward 5 on the South Side — and that’s less than half the field.

With 11 candidates in all, the race for seats was held for the first time in 24 years and one of the busiest on February 28th.

The borough includes parts of the Hyde Park, South Shore, West Woodlawn and Greater Grand Crossing neighborhoods.

Candidates vary in their approach to issues such as public safety and affordable housing, but nearly all agree on one thing.

“A lot of people are sick of not answering their calls,” said Robert Palmer, a 62-year-old teacher running for the seat.

Nearly all candidates cited public safety as their top concern, with sales coordinator Chris Levy, political consultant Joshua Gray, and attorney Renita Ward urging the district’s youth to reduce crime. I’m asking for more focus.

Levy, 51, said he made public safety a priority after speaking with his teenage daughter.

Levy said he wanted to add free women’s softball and men’s Little League programs to “reduce criminals” instead of adding more police officers.

Gray, 39, shared a similar plan to add programs “that kids want to get involved in,” such as arts and basketball.

Ward, 46, says enrollment rates are declining and wants to focus on making the most of educational resources.

“I strongly believe that young people are our future. When it comes to security, economic viability and education, young people should truly be at the forefront.”

Dearika “Dee” Perkins, 41, a professional boxer and business manager, also opposes an increase in police force, but is made up of residents trained in dealing with mental health issues, conflict resolution and de-escalation. We would like to add a community patrol and response team that will

Marlene Fisher, 50, a security administrator at the University of Chicago, wants to allocate funds to violence prevention, victim assistance, and CPS’s after-school programs.

Candidates Gabriel Piemonte, 54, and Wallace Good Jr., 70, both say public safety cannot be addressed without looking at other issues in the district.

Piedmont, who challenged Hairston for the seat four years ago, says economic development and crime go hand in hand.

He said the concept of framing and promoting a national reparation movement, such as giving the descendants of enslaved black Americans a percentage of the city contract, would shape a solution to the ward problem.

“It’s a problem at all levels of government that we tend to avoid the complexities of the black situation that has gone by over and over again for 400 years,” he said.

Issues such as economic development, security and education all need to be addressed at the same time, Goode said. How can we deal with education without dealing with affordable housing? ”

If elected, Goode says he will develop a “Marshall Plan” of sorts with various departmental leaders to address the issue on his first day in office.

Several candidates outlined plans to improve the cost of living on wards.

Higher education administrator Jocelyn Hare, 42, said she plans to centralize housing resources for renters and homeowners.

Fisher said residents receiving any kind of assistance should complete a financial literacy program.

Attorney Martina “Tina” Hone, 60, helps renters through channels such as the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a nonprofit organization that offers special mortgages with no down payment or closing costs to qualified individuals. Planning to find a way to convert to a homeowner. .

Hairston-endorsed religious charity director Desmon Yancey, 51, wants to find a way to help condo owners make home repairs.

Several rival candidates questioned Yancey’s lack of voting history in the constituency.

He said he voted from 2004 to 2008 before leaving the district, returned to the district during the pandemic, and began voting again in the 2022 primary and midterm elections.

“It’s important for people to understand that my office is very positive and very open to conversations with the community,” says Yancy.

Gray says residents should know who a candidate is before running for office.

“Love for community doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “We need a history of loving community.” 5th district seat contest opens for the first time in 24 years

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