Aldermanic candidate Maureen Sullivan is the owner of a pet services business, the daughter of a WWII vet and a major White Sox fan.
She considers Bridgeport to be one of "the last vestiges of what old Chicago was: a real neighborhood where you knew your neighbors and helped each other."
Windy City Times: What made you decide to run for alderman?
Maureen Sullivan: I'm a fourth-generation Bridgeporter. I love the city of Chicago. I'm community organizer here. I do a lot of work with the regular people of the area, not the "connected," and I feel that we've gotten a very raw deal. I feel like the people who have stood up to volunteer get absolutely no recognition. The conditions of our business district have not been developed the way that it should. There's no vision. Lots have sat empty for 10 or 20 years. I've sat down with John Daley and the chamber of commerce and they don't have a clue what to do. I've tried to color within the lines and work with people and it's not working.
Ald. [James] Balcer does everything he can to not help community groups. He becomes surly. They're developing a heliport in this neighborhood; the plans went through, it was three years in the making, right on Archer and Halstednone of us knew what was going on and I keep my ear to the ground. Things like that happen around herethere isn't a line of communication from the alderman's office to the people. I've watched lifetime friends and neighbors have to leave the neighborhood … losing their homes, out of work. There was not one foreclosure workshop, not one job fair, the administration did not help the food pantry that was here. I personally took a hit during the recession. I know I can do better. I know I'd be a really great alderman because this is what an alderman is supposed to do.
WCT: Your campaign manager has said that "women are singled out for terrible abuse in electoral politics" in light of the anonymous sticker campaign that referenced your personal bankruptcy. Can you elaborate on that?
Maureen Sullivan: Those stickers that went up about me: First of all, 8.4 million people have sought bankruptcy protection since 2008. People like me who grew up in a working class neighborhood, in a blue-collar family, I'm the first one to go to college on both sides of my family. I still have student loans at 52. My father didn't believe in educating women at a higher level because we were just going to go look for a husband. That's not the case, obviously, I took a different pathI'm a modern woman who believes that we should have the same rights as the men. To attack me about my bankruptcy that I had to seek to save my home, because my job was destroyed by forces outside of my control … to not only call me "financially bankrupt," but to call me something they wouldn't have called a man"morally bankrupt"is outrageous.
WCT: You've called Rahm Emanuel "a Wall Street banker from Wilmette who wants to help his friends become even wealthier at our expense" and have been vocal about city resources being used to subsidize the wealthy. What are your ideas for [implementing] financial transparency, if elected?
Maureen Sullivan: We need to put a halt to privatization. When we privatize our resources, such as talking about selling off Midway, we lose control, we lose jobs, we add another layer that creates higher prices for the people that live here. I'd like to see privatization be capped. I'd also like to stop the charter school proliferation in this city and be able to provide quality public education to everyone. Take the TIF [tax-increment financing] surplus and circulate it back into the neighborhoods.
WCT: What is the biggest issue facing Chicago Public Schools?
Maureen Sullivan: We don't get an elected school board. I'm a local school council member and I believe that the school board should come from the ranks, just as I believe the police chief should come from the ranks. We know more about how the schools are operating on a day-to-day basis, and what the principal, students, and teachers go through.
WCT: Would you advocate for mandatory anti-bullying policies/training in Chicago public schools?
Maureen Sullivan: Yes; I was a child who was bullied.
WCT: Your platform mentions working directly with police, citizen groups and non-profits in terms of enhancing public safety. What would you recommend to have a better relationship between police and the citizens they serve, including people of color and the transgender community?
Maureen Sullivan: I believe that foot patrols should be added back into the community. I've talked to a variety of police officers and they land on either side of that line. However, I know when I was growing up that we had foot patrols and we had a relationship with our police officers. It's important for people who feel disenfranchised to not feel like that, and if they got to know the police officers and the police officers got to know them as people, we'd have a better working relationship with the police department.
WCT: What is your position on abortion, as it pertains to the law?
Maureen Sullivan: I believe in a woman's right to choose.
WCT: Do you favor marriage equality?
Maureen Sullivan: Yes.
WCT: Do you believe that LGBT individuals have the right to adopt children if they are qualified?
Maureen Sullivan: Most definitely. We do have an LGBTQ community here [in Bridgeport] and we have a group that formed here: Bridgeport Pride. A few of the members are actually my supporters and have volunteered for my campaign. I have a cousin who is gay; my favorite uncle was gay. I have a very close affinity to the [LGBT] community and I think everybody should have it be respected and treated fairly. I am definitely not someone who shies away from working with them and treating them as my neighbors.
For more information on Sullivan, visit: sullivan11thward.com .
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