About the Candidate
Name: Patrick O’Connor
DOB: June 21, 1954
Family: Wife, Barbara, Adult children: Hilary, Patrick, Courtney, Claire, Moira
Political Experience: Elected Alderman 40th Ward, 1983 through present; Democratic Committeeman 40th Ward, 1984 - present
Hi there, I’m Alderman Pat O’Connor. I grew up in the neighborhood and graduated from St. Hilary’s Grammar School and Mather High School. I love the community that has blossomed here over the years. My wife and I raised our family here, our children and their families all live here and almost everyone I love and cherish live within blocks from each other in the 40th ward. We have all worked very hard over the years to make it a great, safe place to live.
Over the years, I have been proud and fortunate to serve the community I was raised in. We have made some major improvements to help local families such as providing resources and funding for local hospitals so they can better care for women and children in the area. I have helped build high‐performing schools for our community and today we boast some of the best schools in the city. I have also focused for years on Public Safety and fighting crime and now we are the safest community in the city, the only neighborhood in Chicago reporting no violent crimes in the past year.
We have been able to make this community a destination, where people want to come live and raise their families. Again, I’m proud to have this opportunity to continue to work for the people and community that I love. The people here should all know that I’m only one phone call away, eager to help deliver services and community improvements that make this one of the most welcoming, family-friendly wards in Chicago.
What is your vision for this office?
My priorities and vision for this office remain, Economic Development; Budget and Finances (including Pension Issues); Education; Ethics and Transparency; and Public Safety.
What is the most pressing issue facing constituents, and how can you help address it?
In my opinion, this question needs to be answered on two levels. As stewards of our wards, and the services and infrastructure that needs to be attended to, I serve my constituents within the 40th Ward’s boundaries. To the extent that as a legislator, I engage in city-wide decision making and inform public policy the answer here is significantly different.
The 40th Ward is a majority-minority ward. No one racial or ethnic group constitutes a majority. Therefore, my local service must be multi-faceted with a broad appeal. Parts of our ward are home to many recent arrivals to the country, and providing social services, health services, and other wrap around programs must continue to be made available primarily through existing agencies, any of whom I work to provide city funds to.
Most of our community is statistically safer than other parts of the city, but statistics are small comfort to victims of crime and so public safety remains a priority.
Our local schools, public, private, religion-based and charter are among the best in the city, with some ranking high up in the state rankings. My focus here continues to be to work with principals and their school communities to provide assistance that they need in the form of infrastructure and modernization where allowed by law, and the improvements of the area around the schools to ensure pedestrian and traffic safety, easy access and cleanliness.
Maintaining a good business climate on our arterial streets, encouraging local, independent businesses where possible, and creating additional residential units on the arterials are a priority for helping energize the local business districts.
I work with the local chambers, all or most of whom I and the area’s local aldermen provide city funding for to help them provide business opportunities, programming and street festivals throughout the ward.
Providing increased access to quality mental health care is an issue that exists throughout the city, but locally I am working with Swedish Covenant Hospital and other entities to provide mental health treatment and divert emergency room visits that occur when the mental issues are not being adequately addressed.
The foregoing creates the local picture and fall under the heading of maintaining a quality, affordable urban experience for my constituents that is safe, with quality local schools and desirable business locations and destinations. This is a pressing issue for the ward.
City-wide, the constituency is different, as are the pressing issues. Budgetary issues, public safety and maintaining, or in some instances rebuilding destroyed neighborhoods, are the pressing issues in this area. Lack of governmental partners in recent years at the federal and state levels have added to the city’s financial plight. The issues of water service quality from the street to the residence, pensions and the growing gap in income levels remain growing issues. While I have supported an increase in the minimum wage and earned vacation/sick time for Chicago’s workforce and worked on the creation and budgetary funding of a city Office of Fair Labor Standards, much more needs to be done. The Committee assignment that I currently have, that of Workforce Development and Audit, has been, and I expect will continue to be, a forum to champion these issues.