Educator Angie Maloney, who is one of several openly LGBT candidates running in the Feb. 26 citywide elections, hopes to win the 47th Ward city council post that's currently held by Ameya Pawar, who has mounted a run for the City Treasurer job. Maloney is competing in an extremely crowded race, and has said that affordable housing in the area is one of her main concerns.
Windy City Times: Why did you decide to run for city council?
Angie Maloney: As a longtime resident of the ward, I'd become concerned that the neighborhood has become a place that is not accessible to middle-class residents. It's always been a great place to love. I've lived here for 20 years. It's been very safe, with great access to transportation and walkable to small businesses. But in the past 5-10 years, it's become increasingly unaffordable. I don't think it's as welcoming a place as it used to be.
WCT: Did anything specifically motivate you further?
AM: The rampant de-conversion of two-flats into single family homes. When my partner and I went to purchase a home, we saw the two-flat as the only affordable option in our community. With developers purchasing two-flats and de-converting them to $2 million homes, we saw our pathway to home ownership slipping away. We talked to residents and heard stories from them, and they felt that, either for this reason, or different resigns, this place is longer welcoming to them.
WCT: Are there other issues beyond affordability?
AM: Locally, it's going to be affordability that's key. We live in really safe place. The schools are great. So we have to keep an eye on those things and improve quality of schools for kids all across the city. I'm a teacher, so I've seen how many families without resources don't get the same attention for their schools. Similarly, with safety, there are a lot of places in the city that have a lot of crime, and also don't have the best relationship with our police force. So improving both safety and schools across the country has to be a priority.
WCT: You've pledged to increase government transparency, a promise many politicians make. How do you foresee yourself doing that?
AM: I would be upfront with folks about why I made certain votes and be willing to explain them. I would be willing to let people know the trade-offs that come from voting a certain way, or the collaborations or coalitions that I was building in order to improve our conditions and get things done in the city. Obviously, I would be available in my office and welcome feedback from residents and do participatory budgeting. I'd also solicit inputnot just waiting for input to come to meby reviving the precinct captain program.
WCT: You've already spoken a bit about safety. What are your recommendations to bring about better relations between Chicago Police and residents they serve, specifically persons of color and members of the transgender community, who have had issues with being over-policed in the past?
AM: There's a lot of rebuilding of trust that needs to happen. It's not a one-way street. … It starts by taking a therapist's approach, where we foster listening sessions and keep an eye on the fact that the police's voices have been the most-amplified in the past. I would like to an era of empathic listening sessions. Having police accountability oversight would be a mechanism that would make citizens feel like someone [who understands] their own perspective is watching the proceedings. Getting police and civilians in communication when it's not just crisis moments is also important.
WCT: What are the most pertinent issues for LGBT persons residing in the ward?
AM: There's still a lot of discrimination. People often don't want to discriminate, but there can be some latent discrimination. I went to a seniors' forum and I got some feedback that a lot of people liked me, but that they were "hesitant" because of the lGBT thing. That actually took me by surprise. … Keeping the area affordable for artists and other non-conforming folks is key for a number of people. In our area, beyond that, I think we have the same issues everybody else hasproperty taxes or rent, making sure we're safe walking down the street. We appreciate that there's low physical crime and low violent crime.
WCT: What do you think is an appropriate minimum wage for Chicago residents?
AM: I think $15 sounds like a lot to people when you have to start a business. But if you look at the facts, most minimum wage recipients are women and women of color, so I think it is important that we talk about who we are raising wages fr before we talk about amounts. I think $15 is a good place to be.
WCT: What are your thoughts on the current state of the City Council?
AM: I think we're at a healing crisis point. It's time to grow. It's time to clean up. I'm someone who's honest to my core, and I'm also a relationship-builder. I'm ready to go in there and hold people accountable, but not in such a way that they turn away; it will be a way that will hopefully inspire people's integrity and use the best of themselves to serve.
See iam47.org .