By Charlsie Dewey
Jim Ginderske has been involved in the fight to keep health care services in the 49th Ward as well as trying to bring in more funding for the additional services needed within the community. He has also been actively involved in work to protect the lakefront as well as other community service-related projects.
The 49th Ward is dealing with several challenges, but Ginderske believes his blue-collar background and his years of community service work make him the best candidate to lead the area through the challenges to the solutions. Ginderske said he wishes to see the community commit and succeed together.
Windy City Times: Why did you decide to run for alderman?
Jim Ginderske: I decided to run for alderman because I do a lot of community service work in the neighborhood and people [ are ] really concerned and dissatisfied with the services provided by and the commitment [ from ] the alderman's office. After, I believe it was the 87th person who asked me to consider running, I got them all together and said well if you're serious let's give this a shot. Here we are.
WCT: Please discuss your background and why you feel that provides the necessary qualifications to be a successful alderman?
JG: I'm in the electricians union. I've been in there for 21 years and like a lot of people I work and I take some time off. ... It's given me a great opportunity to do community service projects.
A couple of years ago, I was keeping a close eye on a woman named Barbara, who was in Iraq ( and who was providing Casualty for American Military Action ) . She set the whole system up, there was nobody else doing it. She was killed doing that, and I was upset about it. I went out to the memorial for her; she was 28 years old. After this memorial, I sat on the steps of the Capitol and thought [ that I would ] try to do some things at home. At that point I really threw myself into a couple of bigger projects, the CAPS stuff, building an art studio here and also the health care stuff. Those are a few things that are really important to the neighborhood.
WCT: Where do you stand on helping protect the LGBT community and their interests?
JG: As far as the LGBT community generally and some of those rights specifically, all I can say is that I support all the general concerns I've heard from folks in the neighborhood, [ including ] gay-marriage rights, benefits for partners, all that stuff. I support that.
WCT: Have you found any specific LGBT issues that need to be addressed?
JG: The housing is definitely one. That is huge. A lot of the folks, like I've said, are concerned about being displaced from Rogers Park, and, also, the AIDS concerns are really considerable. The last census showed an 187 percent increase in Rogers Park. One out of three of our residents don't have health insurance; we've seen very little in terms of care offered in the neighborhood. If someone's got an AIDS infection— to get on the bus and go to county hospital [ is ] a challenge. That's a concern. We did lose one maybe two of our local AIDS workers; basically, there were a bunch of cuts.
WCT: Could you highlight a couple other key issues?
JG: I think one of the biggest things is development. ... If you want to have businesses here, we can't expect them to locate here until we have a safe environment. We have to tackle some of the poverty stuff, the crime, drug dealing [ and ] the kids on the street. One of the big things that is a cornerstone of my plan is a Boys and Girls Club of America. We see a lot of gangs targeting that age bracket.
WCT: Have Boys and Girls clubs been proven in other neighborhoods to be effective?
JG: Oh yeah. They were started during the Depression.
WCT: How will your history as a union member influence your decisions for Rogers Park?
JG: I think being a union member is very beneficial. First, because having worked for a living on a job where it's blue-collar, you can certainly understand some of the challenges. We have a lot of people in Rogers Park that work in a blue-collar industry. We also have a lot of others, but it's primarily a blue-collar neighborhood.