BELMONT CRAGIN — Candidates running for office in the 29th, 30th and 31st wards will answer questions from the constituents they aim to serve Saturday morning in Belmont Cragin.
Doors for the forum will open at 10 a.m. at Northwest Community Church, 5318 W. Diversey Ave. The event is being organized by the Northwest Side Housing Center.
All candidates running in the three ward races have confirmed they’ll attend, according to Laura Slabaugh, one of the forum’s organizers.
The 29th Ward zigzags along the city’s western border near Oak Park and Cicero. It includes Belmont Heights, Montclare, Galewood and Austin. Two of the ward’s previous aldermen, Ike Carothers and his father, William Carothers, where indicted on federal corruption charges. Ike Carothers was followed in office by former state Rep. Deborah Graham.
–Zerlina Smith, founder of Increase the Harvest Inc., formerly did community outreach for State Rep. La Shawn Ford.
–Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), the incumbent, an attorney and former Chicago Police officer, is a member of the Progressive Caucus.
–Dwayne Truss, a military veteran, is a former executive director of Austin Youth League and a former assistant director of Raise Your Hand for Illinois Education.
The 30th Ward encompasses parts of Irving Park, Hermosa, Portage Park and Belmont Cragin.
–Edgar Esparza is a 23-year-old college student studying history and is expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in May.
–Jessica Gutierrez, daughter of U. S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago), is a North Side field coordinator for the campaigns of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s and Delia Ramirez.
–Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), the incumbent, is a close ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and recently secured a new elementary school in Belmont Cragin.
As large developments like The Fields pop up in the area, the ward’s voters are concerned with maintaining affordability while also spurring economic development in the majority-Latino 31st Ward, which includes parts of Logan Square, Hermosa and Belmont Cragin.
–Colin Bird-Martinez, an automotive analyst, is founder of the 31st Ward Independent Political Organization.
–Felix Cardona Jr. is director of incentive properties at the Cook County Assessor’s Office.
–Ald. Milly Santiago (31st), the incumbent, unseated longtime 31st Ward alderman Regner “Ray” Suarez in 2015.
Questions for the candidates are being collected from community members and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each candidate will be given about 90 seconds for an opening statement followed by a moderated question-and-answer session.
“We anticipate most questions will revolve around community-wide concerns of affordable housing, property taxes, aldermanic prerogative, public education and small business concerns,” Slabaugh said.
No RSVP is necessary and the forum will have a live translation into Spanish via headphones during the event.
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