WTTW 2019 Chicago Voter Guide

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

About the Candidate

Name: Sophia King
DOB: Feb. 14, 1966
Family: Husband, Alan King, and two adult daughters
Occupation: Alderman of the 4th Ward
Political Experience: Alderman of the 4th Ward since 2016; former president of Kenwood Park Advisory Council; former vice-chair of Planned Parenthood Chicago Area; former LSC member; former small business owner; helped address gun-violence prevention and unemployment in the African-American community through non-profit.
Website: friendsofsophiaking.com

Candidate Statement

In these changing times for Chicago, the 4th Ward is in need of independent proven leadership. Ideas and talking points are great, but the residents of the 4th Ward have an expectation of leadership that gets things done for the community. In my short time as alderman, we have already achieved major initiatives from issues that have affected blocks for years, to initiatives like Ida B. Wells Drive, that will inspire young girls for generations to come. Constituents of the 4th Ward have informed us that our priorities should be around safety, good neighborhood schools, jobs and economic development. We have made headway in each of these areas.

When it comes to protecting our community, we have gotten rid of bad tenants, buildings and businesses that attract unsafe behavior in our communities, like the buildings that were attracting gun violence on blocks or the businesses that allowed cigarettes to be sold to underage customers and attracted negative loitering outside their premises. We did this together. We brought safe passage to the summer for the first time to protect students during the summer hours while providing jobs and training to adults and youth. We have made our parks more safe by lighting them and adding cameras and reducing hours. We have added more block clubs and community engagement. In addition, we have held our police more accountable while getting more community resources.

We have brought millions of more dollars to our neighborhood schools, including a new field and HVAC system at Kenwood, and re-opening the pool at Dyett. We have also connected our schools with resources in the community, including providing summer internships and apprenticeships. We will continue to look for ways to strengthen our neighborhood schools for they not only impact our kids and our future but also stimulate economic growth. Families choose communities because of strong schools. Density brings neighborhood amenities and stimulates economic development. Residents with options are leaving the city and seeking better public safety and better resourced public education. To stem this tide, we must aggressively focus investment in neighborhood schools and traditionally disinvested areas.

We need to make sure that we continue to bring jobs and economic development to under-resourced communities. And we must continue to find opportunities to hire and train our most vulnerable populations. I am mindful of local hiring as development comes into the community. I am also committed to true parity and opportunity in contracting and senior level positions. That is why we introduced and passed an ordinance that changes the way we look at inclusion in the city and gives preferences to companies that have a diverse workforce.

Chicago is a great city, but we must continue to make sure that we truly celebrate One Chicago by uplifting all of our communities, strengthening our neighborhood schools and putting all of Chicago back to work. It has been my privilege to serve as alderman of the 4th Ward, and with your support we can continue to strengthen our community together.

Candidate Q&A

What is your vision for this office?

Jobs, good neighborhood schools and public safety are among the most pressing concerns we face as a community. Mental health, how we engage and care for our youth and elders are also important to a strong ecosystem. We need to make sure that we continue to bring jobs and economic development to under-resourced communities. And we must continue to find opportunities to hire and train our most vulnerable populations. I am mindful of local hiring as development comes into the community. I am also committed to true parity and opportunity in contracting and senior level positions.

4400 Grove, formerly known as Washington Park Court, is a prime example of our efforts to make sure that there is parity and equity in projects taking place in the 4th Ward. The new mixed-use development on the 4400 block of South Cottage Grove will bring 162 additional housing units and much needed retail/commercial space to the community, but it will also bring jobs. The project pairs a majority firm with a African-American owned general contractor, and it will have a significant number of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) as subcontractors. Seventy-nine percent of the sub constructors are minorities, and of those numbers, sixty nine percent are African American owned firms. Most of the firms are committed to having a workforce that reflects the community.

In addition, we are dedicated to working with the community and its many self-made leaders to promote and strengthen our neighborhood public schools, and in turn, our youth. We are building stronger co-curricular programming in the 4th Ward, providing much needed relief to kids and their families who need options to keep students off the streets and in school. As co-founder of Ariel Community Academy in the North Kenwood/Oakland area, I have learned a great deal about the challenges and triumphs of our city’s educators and their students. We were also able to create an internship program at Dunbar H.S. to help provide a stronger pathway from education to apprenticeship to jobs. And to work with the local unions to that end as well.

Safety in our neighborhoods will require the cooperation and participation of all community members, from law enforcement to the local neighborhood watch. We are working with the community to shut down problem businesses and buildings. And I have been advocating for more resources and accountability. We are also looking at this issue comprehensively and bringing jobs, beautification, improved infrastructure and development to the community.

Finally, we need to look to create long term, sustainable, progressive revenue streams in order to fully fund education, vital city services and pensions. My legislative priorities will continue to be to bring parity to how we prioritize and spend precious city resources, including jobs. I will also continue to focus on ensuring that our neighborhood schools’ curricular and co-curricular programs are funded, and that our communities are safe.