My name is Gabriel Piemonte, and I'm running for alderman of the Fifth Ward. I believe we are at a critical juncture in the life of our communities and that the right decision now about political leadership can have a tremendous impact on our future.
This matters to me because the Fifth Ward is my home. This is where I got married and where I’ve started my family. This is where I built my career in community journalism. And this is where we’ve worked side by side to make positive change across our neighborhoods.
Together, we opened a credit union that offers loans to South Siders who banks often turn away. We built a program where students get paid to learn videography and critical thinking. We've fought together for food justice at the Rainbow Beach Farmers Market and in community gardens across our neighborhoods. We've accomplished a lot together, and there is still much more to be done.
The next alderman needs to concentrate on three areas. First, we must improve service delivery. From the moment a person calls the Fifth Ward office with a service issue, it should be possible to track the process through which that issue is resolved digitally. Residents ought to feel heard when they speak. Second, significant neighborhood change, whether it is addressing crime or building the Obama Center, requires community input and some degree of community control. Solutions that do not share power with the people are not solutions. Finally, we need to rethink what economic development means, and pay closer attention to who benefits when deals are made. In Hyde Park, we have prosperity for some, but it is pushing others out. Meanwhile, on the south end of the ward, there is urgent need for a new economic vision.
There are many other challenges that require serious attention, including education, public safety, and certain citywide issues, such as the pension crisis. But without these foundations in place, I believe that we can only make superficial progress in other areas. By working together, sharing power, and making sure all views are heard, we can accomplish great things in the Fifth Ward.