****Candidate answers are paraphrased and not exact quotes, except what is in quotes.****
Kozlar(ski), Sullivan, Thompson take the stage at the St. Gabriel Church Auditorium. I've never seen Kozlar or Thompson in person, but I've been reading about them extensively. It feels like a celebrity sighting to me. Maybe that's how looking in the mirror feels to them. Fresh off Chicago Tonight, they are stars in some circles now.
I wish they would join hands and declare that they were going to run as a package deal. They look like a superhero team.
The forum is moderated by a guy from outside the ward. The candidates begin with opening statements.
Sullivan hits on her usual strong talking points, her ongoing campaign to Save the Ramova Theater, her past fight against the closing of the schools in the neighborhood. She calls out friends and supporters in the audience, name-dropping Canaryville homies with the best of them.
Kozlar comes out incoherently but with great force. "I'd like to thank our troops overseas..."; "Protect your vote. Make sure you are not fooled or deceived." I don't necessarily understand what he is talking about, but I don't hate the sound of it. He tucks his Bridgeport accent neatly into a mauve tie. He brings up something that is easy to forget...Early voting for the municipals will be on February 9th. It will actually go from February 9-February 21st, but still, good point.
Thompson nee' Daley talks like each of his words have no particular quality to impart, "The" as important as "freedom" as "voting" as "community". He mumbles but we can understand what he is saying. And we listen. Must be all the power hiding under his suit jacket.
His opening statement is the only one that touches upon issues outside of the ward, he brings up the cityworkers pension deficit crisis. He tells us that when he brings up the 11th Ward to other people they call it "the last great neighborhood." A large cohort of fans, at least one chewing an unlit cigar, clap their hands with forceful aplomb and don't stop until the end of the forum.
Question: How will you change ward communications?
Sullivan: We've been using software CIVVY-CRM (that's civvy for CIVIC) on the campaign that tracks requests and needs of people, and is free. We'll use that. We'll extend ward office hours. Make it so people can actually come in the office. Ward nights weekly.
Kozlar: I'm not criticizing the ward but they don't have any social media pages. Social media is free. Some people don't have internet so we will use the Bridgeport News to spread information.
(Editor's Note: Is this journalistically/ethically reasonable?)
Thompson: I managed a 10 million square feet downtown office building, I know how to communicate. (Editor's Note: Why do you want to be Alderman if you've already had such fancy and important jobs?)
Thompson also jabs at Sullivan for calling him out for putting vanity photos in the Bridgeport News, and sticks his tongue out in a singular moment of satisfied barbing.
Winner: Sullivan, Thompson's tongue.
Question: The Budget
Kozlar: Participatory budgeting. I may be young but we'll be working with 90, 80, 60, 30, 20 year olds! The ward gets 1.32 million to spend, and 97,000 for incidental expenses.
Sullivan: I told John about participatory budgeting. But I'm glad he's using it. But he did yank it from me. If you want something in the ward, form a committee of people that are into it and bring the project to me, then we'll work to find money for it together.
Thompson: The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is a model for pension balancing for Chicago and other cities.
Thompson: We'll build a Stockyards Museum, with a restaurant on the bottom. We'll use the "butt4" test...would we build this "butt4" TIF money? (Editor's Note: I still don't 100% understand what this means.) We'll be transparent. We'll fix blighted areas.
Maureen: 5 million went out of the ward in the last cycle. There is no such thing as transparent TIFS. TIFS are a slush fund. I ran two TIF exploration meetings with my neighbors.
(Note: Maureen obviously knows what she is talking but got a little in the weeds talking specifics. I think most of this would be lost on all but the most learned audience."
Kozlar: The north side has nice things, why can't we!!
Winner: Kozlar, for pure force of emotion.
Question: Balancing the City Budget
Sullivan: We'll charge financial groups 1/10 of a cent for each financial transaction. We'll charge people who come to work in the city but live in the suburbs a commuter tax. Especially those who live in dumb suburbs.
Kozlar: Thompson's Water Reclamation plan would take 1040 years to pay off. "You're getting taken advantage of....Girls...and Boys..."; "And make sure to exercise!"
(Editors Note: He said this in a potentially sexist way.)
Thompson: Gives a "silence" hand motion to Kozlar. Kozlar tries to talk back but the crowd is clapping too loud. "We plow the streets, and clean the streets, light 'em, and clean 'em." He talks in some circles. An older women whispers behind me...."Listen to how stupid he is." I don't know who to believe.
Kozlar than asks the moderator if they can all officially say where they stand on raising property taxes---Sullivan and Kozlar say no, Thompson says he doesn't want to say anything untrue, and unfurls the mic from its stand for some close-talking jive-talk with the audience. Some boo, some cheer. "If our police force needs a higher quality of life, I'm not going to deny it."
Winner: Kozlar, for pure force of will.
Question: Tilden HS, and lack of public HS in the ward.
Kozlar(ski): If you look at the stats in Tilden the numbers are sad, only 58% graduate, 40% go ahead to college. We should make it into a trade school.
(Daley, Baby) Thompson: The school needs massive renovations, not sure if we want that particular school, teachers say it is too far gone to use. I can't say we would use it.
Sullivan: Did you know they don't teach history in pubic HS anymore? Did you know that people who do music are better at math? We need music programs.
Winner: Kozlarski/Sullivan/Thompson because they all made good points.
Question: I didn't take notes, but it was about foreclosures.
EDITORS NOTE: At that point I fell asleep and dreamed I was the lost Daley sister. I was surprised that Kozlar's delivery had me kind of jazzed, even though sometimes what he was saying didn't make sense. Sullivan had good ideas, but sometimes got caught in the weeds with details. Thompson confused me because when he talked about the current administration he kept saying "We." I guess it is good to be honest.