In their fifth debate of the pre-election season, candidates for 49th Ward alderman collected on the Loyola University campus Feb. 3 to continue verbal battles for that City Council seat. Although the evening's outline was designed to address specific issues not covered in the mid-January gathering, candidates Michael Harrington (who is openly gay), Karen Hoover and Tom Bradley took numerous anti-incumbent shots at three-term Ald. Joe Moore. Much of the challengers' allotted time was eaten up by questions and accusations about Moore's performance.
Hot issues included the new community center slated for Howard Street, a project on which Moore has been labeled as procrastinating. The three challengers seemed in agreement that Moore's actions, not just regarding the community center, did not live up to his campaign intentions.
Bradley, a pastor, rekindled neighborhood concerns about crime and suggested crime has been on the rise during Moore's tenure. Moore's response was that the 49th Ward ranks among the lowest crime districts in the city and pointed out a decline in criminal activity in this northern border of the ward. Hoover raised financial concerns, citing figures and scenarios that befuddled the incumbent.
Moore expressively responded that he didn't have any idea what she was talking about. Harrington repeatedly used the word 'holistic' in his brief orations and was clear that a safe, friendly and clean beachfront lies on his priority list. Bradley agreed, casting the ward as one of the largest undeveloped lakefront areas in the city.
The Loyola lecture hall was packed, neighborhood residents overflowing into the standing-room-only area at the back. One thing proved evident from the night's event: citizens of the 49th Ward are involved in their community politics and will hold whoever is elected Feb. 25 accountable for their promises and actions, or inactions, whichever the case may be.
Next week: 49th Ward interviews.
— Cathy Seabaugh