SOUTH SHORE — With new aldermanic leadership on the horizon, residents of South Shore used the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to rally neighbors to rebuild the struggling lakefront neighborhood.
About 40 people gathered Monday in the auditorium of the Bradwell School of Excellence, 7736 S. Burnham Ave., to discuss how the neighborhood could be improved now that Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) has announced her resignation.
"My hope is the mayor next month will chose someone who will be responsive first and foremost to her constituents and that the mayor will work with all candidates to improve the neighborhood," said Mia Henry, one of the founders of Reclaiming South Shore for All, who said she will seek the seat in the City Council.
Residents and five aldermanic hopefuls were optimistic they could begin restoring South Shore with the shuttering of Jackson's office, which many characterized as a place where good ideas went to die.
"It seems to me like we really have an opportunity to have someone working full time," said Ron David, a former Chicago police officer and another candidate for alderman.
Reclaiming South Shore for All was formed by Henry and others frustrated with Jackson's inattentiveness to their concerns about economic development and safety.
"This group started a year ago after I had a break in at my home and I wanted to talk to people because I didn't want to move out of South Shore and I didn't want to put bars on my windows," Henry said.
The rally was originally planned as a call for Jackson's resignation, until the two-term alderman quit Jan. 4.
The group enlisted new members and started setting an agenda for a Jackson-less South Shore that included more emphasis on economic development.
"We don't have enough businesses here to shop locally, so that means we're exporting all that money we could be using to rebuild South Shore," said Charlie Vinz of Reclaiming South Shore for All.
Vinz urged the next alderman to utilize the neighborhood's two tax tax increment financing districts to use their tax subsidies to support local business development.
"Both of those have been completely drained for the modern schools," Vinz said, referring to the TIF's financial support for the new South Shore High School. "We got the new high schools, but the money that should have gone to build vital businesses went to building public buildings."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is creating a committee, which will include community representation, which will give the mayor a short list of candidates for the appointment. More than a dozen people have expressed interest in the seat.