Throughout my career in public and community service, and now as an elected official, I have found it essential to establish guiding principles in order to inform how I view the challenges and opportunities we encounter. Whether it was my work reviewing development proposals as president of SOAR (Streeterville Organization of Active Residents) participating in planning efforts with the Lakeshore Improvement Committee or working with the forerunner of the Active Transportation Alliance, I know it’s critical that local stakeholders understand the goals and objectives we share, how these goals are reflected individual projects and policy questions, and, most importantly, how residents can participate in the process.
In my role as Alderman of the 2nd Ward, the need to base decisions on a set of guiding principles is also critical. We all share a vision for a prosperous ward with a balance of meaningful economic opportunity and strong quality of life. Individual policy questions or development projects should be measured against whether or not they are supporting and embodying our key principles and bringing lasting improvements to the 2nd Ward. These fundamental guidelines will always inform my decision-making and guide the process.
Economic Development and Opportunity
In order to remain one of Chicago’s most vibrant and unique wards, we must continue to grow in a way that offers greater economic opportunity for everyone. Growth doesn’t simply mean “more.” It means working to ensure proposed development projects continue to support growth for the wider community, not just narrow interests. A healthy and balanced mix of residential, commercial, hospitality and services will ensure the future of the ward and maintain its well-earned reputation as a great place to raise your family, invest in a home or business, or simply visit.
Environmental Sustainability, Open Space and Quality of Life
Careful stewardship of the environment cannot be an afterthought when it comes to development and economic growth. In fact, environmental awareness and sustainability is a prerequisite for long-term growth and absolutely essential to maintain a high quality of life for residents, visitors and employees in the 2nd Ward. We must balance open space and appropriate density and provide more access and interaction with the Chicago River and lakefront.
Infrastructure, Access to Transit and Congestion Mitigation
We must invest in and improve our infrastructure. We cannot achieve ongoing growth or enhance the quality of life in our ward unless we leverage development to improve our infrastructure, provide increased and improved transportation options, and reduce traffic congestion. We need to upgrade and expand our existing infrastructure so transit services like the CTA and Metra are real options for everyone, including full ADA compliance for our transit stations and systems. We must reduce traffic and frustrating delays. Our ward contains major road, transit and transportation infrastructure, but our lack of investment in this critical infrastructure has allowed demand to overwhelm its capacity. We need workable solutions, like improved mass transit, to relieve traffic and congestion on our roads.