By ALLISON MATYUS
Ald. Sophia King (4th) has had a busy week after the announcement of her appointment as interim alderman of the 4th Ward from Mayor Rahm Emanuel last Monday. King is now ready to tackle the issues of the 4th Ward, alongside its residents.
“For almost 30 years, Sophia King has not just lived in the 4th Ward, she has worked to improve the quality of life for everyone who lives there,” Emanuel said in a written statement. “She has led initiatives to increase education, recreation, employment and safety, as well as quality affordable housing. She will be a tireless advocate for her constituents as she serves on City Council.”
King said that she never thought about herself in the political servant sphere, only that she knew she wanted to serve the community she lives in.
“I decided intentionally years ago to serve my community because I thought there was a need,” King said. “I did all these things because I felt that I could help and add value.”
King is the founder and president of the non-profit group, Harriet’s Daughters, which is a group of professional women who work to create, support and secure employment opportunities in African-American communities. King was also a member of the Kenwood Park Advisory Council for seven years.
She said it took a group of people from the community to put her extensive work into the political context. For her, the process in becoming the new 4th Ward alderman took a lot of time and meaningful thought.
“It’s been a process that I didn’t take lightly and then at some point during the process, I started to be very excited to add value to the residents of the 4th Ward,” she said.
King is well aware of the skepticism surrounding the process of the mayor choosing an alderman for the people rather than the people, but she said she felt good about the process she went through to get to where she is now.
“I don’t even know how many interviews I had but I was happily surprised about what they were looking for,” she said. “I was prepared to run anyway, that was where I was kind of heading. I wasn’t counting on an appointment.”
Involving the community in this process is on King’s to-do list of top priorities. She said in meeting some of the community members over the past week, she always asks one question first.
“I always ask people what they are passionate about because I have a feeling that some of our priorities and goals are the same,” she said. “I hope to bring [the community] into the process…they are a big part of creating goals in the ward.”
First and foremost, she is interested in reaching out to those people that are maybe skeptical of her and the appointment.
“I personally plan to spend a lot of time getting to know some of the groups who feel disenfranchised,” she said.
She said she has limited time, with the special election coming up in February 2017, to prove herself to the community but said that being transparent about the ward’s resources is a main focus during that time.
“There will be different agendas because of the diverse population of the 4th Ward but it’s how we reconcile the different competing interests that will impact the limited resources,” King said.
As a public servant, King said that she is open and interested in talking to anyone and everyone in the ward. She said some people may not know who she is now but she has no doubt that she can bring the community together to help solve the issues at hand.
“I just love people and that’s what it comes down to,” she said. “I’ll be very open and approachable and plan to engage everybody in this.”