Since taking office about seven months ago, Ald. Sophia King (4th) is heading into the Feb. 28 special election with her accomplishments in tow in hopes of proving to 4th Ward constituents that she is the best person for the job.
King said the main thing she has done since becoming alderman is engage with the different communities that make up the 4th Ward and hearing out residents’ concerns.
“I’ve had six town hall meetings, I have constituent meetings, I go to CAPS meetings and Block Clubs…I’m really out there a lot so I’m better informed about what is going on in particular blocks in particular communities,” King said.
On handling the diverse neighborhoods that make up the ward which include the South Loop, Bronzeville, Kenwood, Oakland and Hyde Park, King said there are similarities in what residents want between these communities but that particular issues differ.
“I try to take communities where they are and address issues that are pertinent to them,” King said. “What basic concerns are to one neighborhood may be slightly different but they are all quality of life issues.”
Some of the things King has accomplished since being in office include increasing access to parking for 31st Street Beach, convincing developers to include affordable housing in a new South Loop residential development, changing bus routes and bus stops to accommodate senior citizens and extending the Chicago Public Schools Safe Passage initiative into the summer months.
In the future, King also hopes to bring the different neighborhoods of the ward together through a 4th Ward Olympics where different parts of the ward send “Olympians” to participate in games which she says would be a great way to foster that community.
She said tackling the many concerns her constituents have is always a priority on her to-do list.
“I’ve had a number of instances where I’ve been able to get at some of the issues that have been lingering for years and take care of them,” she said.
With all political offices, King has inherited some of the issues and projects passed on from her predecessor, former Ald. Will Burns. However, she said she is doing things her own way.
“Whatever I’ve inherited, I’ve tried to make sure that there is community input so that’s really the way I am handling [inheritances],” she said. “I try not to dwell on [Burns] or a particular individual. There are instances though where I inserted myself perhaps differently than my predecessors did.”
King said she is aware of the stigma of her appointed position from Mayor Rahm Emanuel in that people fear she will not act independently or for the community, but she said a look at her term so far proves that fear wrong.
“I’m aware of the perception I have to overcome, but I think once people hear what I’ve been doing, they will see my intention is to advocate on behalf of the community,” she said. “The reality is that I’m really a candidate that nobody sent.”
In preparation for the February special election, King has the double duty of not only being alderman, but running for alderman as well. She said that first and foremost she has to be an alderman rather than out campaigning, but that she is being deliberate in making sure constituents know who she is and listening to their concerns.
“It’s not about me as an individual, it’s a community effort, so the more people that get involved the better,” King said. “I want to get people to see themselves as part of not just their community, but a larger community that is the 4th Ward.”
By ALLISON MATYUS
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