Sunday, January 23, 2011
Dispatch from 32nd Ward Aldermanic Forum
(All content and photos by Nandika Doobay)
With the Feb. 22nd Aldermanic elections soon approaching, area residents gathered last Thursday night at DePaul University’s Student Center to meet and greet the current 32nd Ward hopefuls as well as witness what turned out to be a lively debate.
The race has whittled down to four candidates - Brian Gorman, Bryan Lynch, David Pavlik and Scott Waguespack. Peter V. Diaz, who dropped his bid in late December said that he “consulted with his friends and family and decided that now is not the right time to pursue elected office.” Diaz now endorses David Pavlik.
Pavlik, whose cellphone rang during his opening statement, was born (on Christmas Day, as was his mother) and raised in the Wicker Park area and now lives in Roscoe Village. His main focus is “putting our neighborhood first,” and pledged to attendees that he would “put more police on the street and more teachers in the schools.” Pavlik stressed his frustration with what he called a “lack of attention in the ward,” with rats, potholes and public safety being among his top concerns.
Bryan Lynch has lived in the ward since 1998 and currently resides in Wicker Park with his wife and three sons. He is the only small business owner of the four candidates and told the audience that he aims to partner with the business community to promote growth, create jobs, ease regulatory burden on business owners and take advantage of technology. “I have seen the neighborhood deteriorate,” Lynch told the audience, citing empty storefronts up and down the ward’s major avenues. Lynch hopes to get outside businesses interested in moving to the ward. “We need to look bigger because Chicago is a global city,” he explained.
Roscoe Village resident Brian Gorman, former supporter of Scott Waguespack, told the audience during his opening statement that the current alderman’s failings are the reasons that he is running. Gorman did not mince words, blaming Waguespack for a myriad of problems that he claims plague the ward, such as Waguespack’s vote against property tax relief for residents - the only Alderman in the City Council against the measure. Gorman continued to throw some low-blows, bringing up Waguespack’s past support of alleged woman-abuser Scott Lee Cohen and possible shady campaign contributions from Board of Ethics Chairman and noted zoning attorney John Pitarski.
Alderman Waguespack was on the defensive for a majority of the hour-long debate, deflecting criticism from his opponents by calling their statements “a bunch of myths, distortions and misinformation.” He claimed to have given back thousands of dollars in contributions and tried to steer the audience’s focus on his accomplishments as alderman, such as his authoring and unanimously passing the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Transparency Ordinance and his close work with local Chambers of Commerce. When discussing his efforts at making the ward more environmentally sound, Waguespack recalled his utilization of an abandoned factory. “When Republic Windows ran off in the middle of the night we brought in a company that was greener than the one that was there before, and now Serious Materials has brought 200 jobs back on the line.”
Overall, the candidates agreed on most issues such as adding new liquor licenses to the ward and expanding the duties of Inspector General, which they all support. Two issues set the current Alderman aside from his fellow contenders - big box stores and food trucks, which Waguespack is in support of, but Lynch, Pavlik and Gorman are against. Only one candidate would disclose their pick for future mayor of Chicago. Brian Gorman says Rahm is his guy, with the the other three candidates giving the similar neutral statement of “I will work with whoever is chosen by the public.”