David Askew has spent his career as a civil rights attorney, most recently with the attorney general's office. He is now pursuing the office of 2nd Ward alderman, hoping to bring a voice to the people who he feels have been underserved by the incumbent, Alderman Madeline Haithcock. Askew believes he can do a better job than Haithcock has done, and he plans to accomplish this in part by having several advisory councils within the ward that will help him manage the vastly different sections of the community, bringing needed change for all.
Windy City Times: Please tell me about your background and how your experiences qualify you for alderman.
David Askew: I have a genuine spirit of service, and a strong desire to represent and engage my fellow citizens, as evidenced by my extensive charitable work over the past several years. From mentoring children in schools, my neighborhood and at my church, to serving on charitable boards, such as the Just the Beginning Foundation, the Chicago Abused Women Coalition and St. Gregory Episcopal School, I have shown that I am willing to give of myself in order to uplift as many people as possible.
In order to be an effective alderman, you must also be able to establish and nurture relationships with the community and members of the government. As a co-beat facilitator with my wife, Tamara, for Beat 1332 of CAPS…we increased the community membership of our CAPS beat tenfold over a four-year period; helped rid some of our streets of a criminal element; and established better working relationships with our beat officers and higher ranking officers, including the district commander.
Finally, my educational background and professional experience [have] prepared me for the rigors of this position…I served as the deputy chief of the civil rights bureau in the Illinois attorney general's office before resigning in December to campaign full time.
WCT: Could you mention a few key issues in the 2nd Ward and briefly touch on how you will work to address these issues?
DA: The major issues of the 2nd Ward are unmanaged and unplanned growth; lack of adequate or diverse retail; lack of affordable housing; poor delivery of basic services to the community; and a glaring lack of communication between the current alderman's office and the stakeholders of the Ward. Our three-part platform will address each of these issues: smart growth—a comprehensive, development plan that will include input from all stakeholders to enhance and protect our communities; neighborhood amenities—using innovative approaches to ensure that the ward has safe neighborhoods, diverse retail stores and quality schools, and transparency of government—being accessible to all stakeholders by hosting weekly ward nights, bimonthly town-hall meetings and using more electronic communication.
WCT: Are there LGBT-specific issues that need attention in the 2nd Ward?
DA: To my knowledge, there are no issues specific to the LGBT community in the ward that do not exist for the LGBT community throughout the entire city.
WCT: Can the LGBT community count on you to represent them equally and fairly?
DA: Yes. I have worked diligently to protect the civil rights guarantees of all Illinois citizens, including the rights of members of the LGBT community. I have investigated and litigated civil rights violations, including discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act.
WCT: What are your plans to help education in the 2nd Ward?
DA: I have a three-part plan to help education in the 2nd Ward. One, there is responsibility with the community to teach our children to value education and prepare them to learn. I will work with businesses, churches and community groups to get them more involved. Two, we need to help our teachers succeed. I will also work diligently to put more funding into teacher training and retention. Finally, I will work closely with corporate partners to increase support for proven mentorship, internships and job-shadow programs like Education to Careers and After School Matters. These programs help our kids succeed by exposing them to trades and careers while they are in school.
WCT: Is there anything that you would like to add?
DA: The only thing I want to add is that I want to give the ward back to the people…all the people. If you call yourself a representative, you better represent all the people.