EDGEWATER — A local nonprofit worker and political organizer is running for 48th Ward alderperson, setting up a potential showdown with longtime Ald. Harry Osterman.
Uptown resident Nick Ward announced his candidacy for the 48th Ward office, which covers Edgewater and the northern edge of Uptown. His campaign will host a kickoff event Saturday at Rewired Cafe in Edgewater. He is pledging to bring a community-based approach to tackling issues like affordable housing, public safety and education
Ward, 40, is a representative on the Goudy Elementary Local School Council and is a member of the political group 48th Ward Neighbors For Justice.
In running for a 48th Ward office held by Osterman, Ward is hoping to be the latest progressive challenger to unseat a Chicago alderperson. The election will be held in February 2023.
“One of the things we’ve seen in the last couple years organizing in the 48th Ward is a politics that is pretty reactive and ad-hoc,” Ward said. “I think the approach that is required is a proactive movement that seeks to solve systemic problems, not one at a time, but through dramatically changing systems.”
Osterman has served as 48th Ward alderperson since 2011. He served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2000 until he became alderperson. His mother, Kathy Osterman, represented the 48th Ward in the late ’80s.
Osterman has not publicly announced a re-election campaign. In a statement, Osterman said he will share more this summer about his plans.
“Each day I am focused on the critical issues at hand, including improving safety in our community and around our city, creating more affordable housing options for families, helping residents and small businesses through the pandemic and supporting the outstanding schools in the 48th Ward,” Osterman said in a statement. “This summer, I will share my vision with residents of the 48th Ward on how we move forward together as a community and city.”
Ward has lived in Uptown for four years and has lived in Chicago since 2004, when he moved here to participate in the city’s live theater industry. He grew up in suburban Detroit.
While working for performance companies, Ward also waited tables for years in Chicago. Ward works as an administrator at the nonprofit Young Chicago Authors and published his debut book of essays, “All Who Belong May Enter,” in 2021.
Ward is also the membership co-chair of 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice, a progressive political group that has organized around causes, including policing reform, and has opposed Osterman on local issues, including development. The political group has endorsed Ward in the aldermanic race.
Ward was elected as the community representative to the local school council at Goudy Elementary, 5120 N. Winthrop Ave., in 2021 and is running to retain his seat this spring.
In organizing around local political causes, Ward said he learned more about the needs of his neighbors and how to best make decisions for the community.
As a nonprofit worker and former waiter, Ward said he can relate to many working class Chicagoans and North Side lakefront residents who have felt increasingly priced out of their neighborhoods.
“I worry about my ability as a nonprofit worker to be able to afford to live in this community that I love and call home,” he said. “If I’m worried about it as someone with a pretty stable job, I can only imagine how families must feel.”
Two of Ward’s central campaign issues are bringing more affordable housing to the ward and boosting local schools. He hopes more affordable housing can help reverse declining enrollment at local public schools, including Goudy.
Ward said more affordable housing and funding for social services could also help with another hot-button issue: crime.
“More affordable housing keeps our public schools robust,” he said. “Ultimately, what I believe is that people who have access to housing, who have access to social services they need, have access to good jobs … that’s whats going to make us safe. We have an opportunity to try to build up resources and to not criminalize people.”
For more on Ward’s campaign, click here.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: