Sunday, December 31, 2006

Arlene Jones to run for 37th ward Alderman

She writes Improving the West Side - my passion in life in The Austin Weekly News.

This is my final column. No, the major newspapers didn't offer me a better job, nor was my contract up and my editors came to their senses and chose not to renew it. No, I'm not leaving to "spend more time with my family." In fact, for the next couple of months, I'll see less and less of them.

Four years ago, I wanted to make a difference on the West Side. I ran for alderman of the 37th Ward. I lost.

I am again going to run for alderman of the 37th Ward. You see, all the aldermanic seats are now open, and you cannot have a race without runners. So I will not write this column while running.

When I lost four years ago, rather than retreat, I was given the opportunity to write this column. I was given this opportunity because I wrote "so many" letters to the editor. If the reporting seemed unfair or if events in Austin weren't being covered, I was quick to send an e-mail.
I've followed her columns and while I probably disagree with her on everything National, I always wanted to hear her thoughts for local problems and issues. Ideas like developing the old Brach's Factory into an entertainment district. Here's more from her column,
I have never been at a loss for words. In Chicago, there is never a dull moment when it comes to politics. And for the West Side, well, we get left out all the time, or the coverage is negative. So it was important for me to want to highlight issues right here in the community.

My very first column asked a basic question: "Why do you live in Austin?" Three and a half years later, it's still a valid question. Some were born into this community. Others like myself, moved here on purpose. We recognized the value in the housing stock. We saw lots of parks and churches. If you don't know the history of Austin as a community, it was never a hick town that just got incorporated into Chicago. Instead, it was a planned community, a suburb of Chicago at one time with Austin Town Hall being the center of the community.

Over the years, I have tried to keep this column at the forefront of where the West Side is today-hence my e-mail address of westside2day*** Now let me make it perfectly clear: The understanding that I have of this side of town was not by accident. There were many Westsiders who came before me and who paved the way for me to have the vision that I have. And I keep them in mind whenever I sit down to write. People like the late great West Side activist Nancy Jefferson.
For a Westsider Today, Jones has a feel for the history of the West Side, and how it's always changing. A little more,
If you want to get a perspective on the history of the black West Side, then Dr. Christopher Reed of Roosevelt University is the person to call. His book, Beyond Chicago's Black Metropolis: A History Of The West Side's First Century, 1837-1940, proves that we've been a presence on this side of town for more than 150 years. The question still remains what our presence will be on this side of town when the 200th anniversary rolls around.

I am leaving this column, but my voice will not be silent. Instead, you can hear me every Sunday night on WPNA 1490 AM from 10 p.m. to midnight. I also have my website, There, you will be able to read my current opinions, and you can even reply. Lastly, starting Jan. 2 until Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. I will do the conference call Monday through Friday. So my voice just won't be in this column, but it will still be out here.

For the conference, call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance, so use your cell) and enter the access code: 806598#. I can host up to 96 people.

I'll leave you with my favorite African Proverb, "On the Day of Victory, No One Will be Tired."
As for the next 50 years and the presence of African Americans on the West Side, of course they'll be a presence and like everyone else on the West Side they'll be rolling further West.

Mik Ryko once wrote the old neigborhood is the place eveyone loves and is trying to leave. Move out West and you find yourself bumping in to all kinds of West Siders, and the talk always turns to how things have changed. Cairo's Deli on East and Roosevelt is gone now, and new hi-rise condo's are being built down the block. It's a different kind of Roosevelt road now for sure.

Whether that is victory or not, I don't now; but I can promise you no one on the West Side is ever tired for long. It's a restless place. In a good way (mostly). Everyone figuring out an angle to get ahead, improve their lot, and find their own little victory.

So good luck to Arlene Jones!

xp at Bill Baar's West Side


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