Seven candidates vie for seats in 3rd, 5th wards in North Chicago
By Judy Masterson email@example.com February 22, 2013 8:38PM
Kingston Neal, candidate for North Chicago 5th ward alderman. | Special to Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 24, 2013 2:24AM
Voters will elect two aldermen in the Feb. 26 Democratic Primary. A total of seven candidates are running, three for the 5th Ward seat including incumbent Rev. Torrance Abrams and four in the 3rd Ward where incumbent Valerie DeVost is sacrificing her seat for a mayoral run.
Abrams, a longtime local minister, said safety is the most important issue in his ward along with economic development. We’re dealing with gangs and crime, young people who are struggling,” Abrams said. “And we need economic development which we know will drive opportunities.
Appointed to finish the term of late Alderman Jim Ellis, Abrams, 48, who is the father of 10 children, has volunteered for numerous causes, including mentoring children in District 187 schools and ministering to clients of the Gateway Foundation, a drug rehab facility in Lake Villa. “I always look at any pain and believe something good will come out of it,” Abrams said. “I want to see more faith-based organizations and community leaders and taxing bodies work together to support each other for a common goal, and that goal has to be quality of life for our young people.”
Candidate Marilyn Turner, who works for Debbie Richards Realty Group, said she wants tighter curfews for young people.
“Fifty-three percent of our crimes come from our youth,” Turner said. “We have a lack of after-school programs. Kids are hanging around, falling prey to violence.”
Turner, 54, also wants to give senior citizens more attention. More help with housing and rental issues. “Marion Jones is going to be torn down and that will affect our ward,” said Turner, referring to a public housing project. “We could see an increase in crime. We need to work to retain business and support businesses. There’s no grocery store here. Taxes are high. We need more businesses to share that burden.”
Turner moved from Zion 10 years ago when she bought a home in the city. “We need to unite as a city, come together as a community,” she said.
Kingston Neal, 44, is a past president and current member of the Foss Park Board and a past president of NAACP Lake County Chapter. He owns a construction company and holds a bachelor degree from Columbia College Chicago.
“I’m very concerned about our brand,” Neal said. “Our brand is who we are and how we look outside the community. You need players who understand what community and economic development look like. I’m not certain that agenda is being pushed either hard enough or if it’s being pushed at all. The 5th Ward has always had very strong representation. But it’s been like a desert here and that’s not okay. The 5th Ward is home to 50 percent of businesses in North Chicago. Where are the ward meetings? We need to talk about where we are and where we’re growing. Someone has to push and someone has to stay focused.”
Neal said that a strategic plan for the city is long overdue. “It can’t just be talk,” Neal said. “Let’s put it on the table. Let’s vote on it and let’s make it happen.”
Third Ward candidates
Caroline Harrington, 59, is a lifelong resident and graduate of North Chicago High School with 40-plus years of experience in corporate sales. She currently works as a strategic account manager. She wants to put her corporate experience to work for the city, she said.
“The third ward is a very large ward and we need to bring it together,” she said.
Harrington proposes three initiatives: Networking to Connect, a format for conversations; a monthly brainstorming information session; and “calls for service — my eyes are open.”
The latter program will encourage residents to keep their eyes open, notice what’s going on in their neighborhoods and report problems like drug houses or eyesores. “Open your mouth. Let’s not be afraid anymore,” Harrington said, and added that weapon laws already on the books for Lake County need to be enforced.
“The grass is not greener on the other side,” is Harrington’s motto. “We need to fix what we have in the city of North Chicago,” she said.
Lorraine Thurmond, a native of Mississippi, was raised in Chicago and raised her children in North Chicago. She is retired after a long career as an executive secretary with the North Chicago VA.
“I have the education, background and skills to help the city,” said Thurmond, who holds an associate degree in business administration.
“I am extremely concerned about the poor conditions in our ward,” Thurmond said. “It is urgent that the community let their voices be heard more effectively. We can seize this future together and make a positive change. We need to make available programs more visible in our community.”
Thurmond, who said vacant homes and properties could be used to house the homeless, said too many young people are hanging out in the streets. “We need counseling, housing and employment for people with challenges. We need to remind our business people to support the community by offering employment opportunities.”
Carl Evans, 46, cites crime, housing an lack of jobs and programs for youth as problems in the third Ward. Evans showed his metal when he spent several years badgering the City Council to demolish the old Ron-Ric hotel, a haven for drug addicts and prostitutes that was located very near his home. Finally, in 2011, the council used federal funds for the tear-down. Evans said more demolition needs to happen and points to a home across the street from his that burned more than a year ago and still sits.
“There’s not enough opportunity in the community,” Evans said. “We have people with criminal records, people who are recovering addicts. They need jobs and they need help.”
“We need to know the police who are patrolling our neighborhoods,” Evans said. “And they need to know us, especially our youth and the elderly.”
Third Ward aldermanic candidate Tiffiny Lear could not be reached for comment.