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Far North Side (wards 48, 49, and 50) candidates talk transportation

The Argyle Shared Street. Photo: John Greenfield

As part of our 2023 Election Coverage, Streetsblog Chicago sent a questionnaire out to every candidate running for alderperson. Today, we’re sharing responses from candidates in West Side districts, including wards 24, 25, 26, 30 and 37.

We asked about their plans to restore CTA ridership, what actions they would take to reduce fatal crashes, and if they supported additional protected bike lanes in their ward. We also asked if they supported more affordable housing options near transit, including Equitable Transit Oriented Development, and allowing Accessory Dwelling Units and three-flats to be built in every neighborhood. See the full set of questions at the bottom of this post.

You can see the full responses from candidates in every ward here.

Here are our writeups of the responses:

48: Edgewater, Uptown and Andersonville

Top: Isaac Freilich Jones, Larry Svabek, Joe Dunne. Middle: Nick Ward, Brian Haag, Andre Peloquin. Bottom: Andy Peters, Nassir Faulkner, Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth.
Top: Isaac Freilich Jones, Larry Svabek, Joe Dunne. Middle: Nick Ward, Brian Haag, Andre Peloquin. Bottom: Andy Peters, Nassir Faulkner, Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth.
Top: Isaac Freilich Jones, Larry Svabek, Joe Dunne. Middle: Nick Ward, Brian Haag, Andre Peloquin. Bottom: Andy Peters, Nassir Faulkner, Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth.

About the race: Chicago’s 48th Ward covers Edgewater and parts of Uptown and Andersonville. Half the ward is running to replace retiring Ald. Harry Osterman. Streetsblog received responses from 9 candidates. They are: Assistant Illinois attorney general Isaac Freilich Jones, University of Chicago lecturer Larry Svabek, affordable housing developer Joe Dunne, arts administrator Nick Ward, business owner Brian Haag, real estate broker Andre Peloquin, restauranter Andy Peters, digital communications manager Nassir Faulkner, and business owner Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (whew). Roxanne Volkmann is also running. Block Club is covering the race here.  

CTA Ridership: Candidates had a wide range of answers on CTA ridership, emphasizing a mix of reliability and safety concerns. 

    • Freilich Jones noted that he’s lived in Chicago car-free for decades, and was acutely aware of the CTA’s issues. He endorsed stronger efforts to hire operators, including offering a safe work environment and adequate salaries and benefits. He also committed to hold CTA leadership accountable for scheduling accuracy, as well as safety and cleanliness. 
    • Svabek complained about being recently ghosted by the 22 bus. He also pointed to the staffing shortage as a primary problem, and noted that CTA President Dorval Carter’s refusal to attend CTA meetings was “unacceptable,” calling for Carter’s replacement. In the longer term, he endorsed targeted free-ride pilots, as well as better east-west transit across the city. He suggested bus rapid transit as a particularly cost-effective way to do so. 
    • Dunne highlighted the lack of cleanliness and crime on the Red Line as key contributors to falling ridership. He endorsed bringing conductors back to trains. He argued that the contracted security CTA has brought in has been ineffective, and should be replaced with a smaller number of CPD officers who have the authority to intervene in incidents. He also noted that bus tracking needed to be improved. 
    • Ward expressed support for boosting driver pay and benefits, and also endorsed the CTA’s recent efforts to pay for applicants to earn commercial drivers’ licenses and expand recruitment. Longer term, he endorsed signal priority, dedicated bus lanes, and fleet expansion and electrification to eventually target citywide bus frequency of 5-7 minutes. He also suggested improving working conditions, and noted that operators have been forced to deal with new safety challenges. He endorsed an unarmed Transit Ambassador program, as well as de-escalation training for bus drivers. 
    • Haag wrote that the CTA need to “get a better security service.” He mentioned one of his staff was attacked and had his bags stolen while attempting to transfer from the Blue Line to Red Line at 8:30 on a Friday night—with no security or CTA staff in the vicinity. 
    • Peloquin pointed out that quality transit was an equity issue. He endorsed live-recording cameras on CTA trains and buses, instead of the current CCTV footage that’s reviewed after an incident occurs. He also called for replacing “untrained private security” with CPD officers. 
    • Peters noted that the CTA was facing both safety and reliability issues. He also teed off on the CTA’s private security contracts, noting that they pay a minimum wage below the City mandate, and do not intervene to prevent crimes, “which of course raises the question of what makes this a better use of money than simply installing more security cameras and panic buttons.” He did praise the CTA’s interagency agreement with the City for outreach to unsheltered residents. On reliability, he suggested replacing CTA leadership, who have been unable to recruit additional staff, and holding supervisors accountable for performance. He also called for technology improvements to address ghost buses, and a dedicated bus lane to improve service on DuSable Lake Shore Drive. 
    • Faulkner started by calling for a change in CTA leadership, “because it is clear that current leadership is not up to the job.” He noted that public safety concerns were deterring riders, and committed to work to secure federal dollars “to get the trains and buses running on time, and for investments in accurate tracking technology.”
    • Manaa-Hoppenworth agreed that the CTA must be held accountable, and that CTA service was critical for Equitable Transit Oriented Development to succeed. She also called for a citywide-public awareness campaign after service has improved, but didn’t offer specifics on what steps should be taken to improve service. 

Traffic Safety and Protected Bike Lanes: All candidates endorsed greater protections for cyclists and pedestrians, along with more protected bike lanes. 

    • Freilich Jones endorsed calls for a citywide protected bike grid, and called for continued responsiveness to cyclist needs. He also endorsed traffic calming measurers to encourage safe driving behavior. He endorsed protected bike lanes, particularly East-West routes, but would select specific streets “following a careful study and robust community process.”
    • Svabek noted that the past year “was one of the most dangerous for pedestrians on record.” He called for required safety improvements during street resurfacing, and highlighted schools, senior centers, and high crash intersections as particular priorities. He also endorsed a citywide network of protected bike lanes. He noted Clark was already a critical bike route, and called for adding protected bike lanes on Broadway. 
    • Dunne endorsed bulb outs and pedestrian refuge islands, as well as extending the Broadway road diet north to Bryn Mawr, expressing confidence that IDOT would go along with the proposal. He would also push for completing the intersection reconfiguration and Wayne and Ridge, and safer access to the Lakefront trail. He endorsed a comprehensive network of bike lanes, including protected bike lanes “where they are feasible.” He expressed worry that “protected bike lanes as they are currently designed can create unintended hazards especially with turning vehicles and no standardized system for delivery vehicles,” but didn’t clarify what improvements should be made. He did endorse more east-west protected lanes, and greenways on “mellow” routes, citing the success of the Glenwood Greenway. He also endorsed a two-way protected bike lane on Bryn Mawr from Sheridan to the Lakefront trail. 
    • Ward was specific in his safety recommendations: “lane reductions and more pedestrian islands on Broadway; rebuilding of sidewalks and addition of pedestrian stop lights on Ridge; and more rotaries on Kenmore and Winthrop.” He also committed to installing 5 miles of protected bike lanes in the Ward, including on Clark, Glenwood, Devon, and Broadway. He also called for a protected bike lanes on Bryn Mawr and Foster, with access to the Lakefront trail. 
    • Haag backed traffic calming including crosswalk art, pedestrian islands, redesigning streets to have dedicated bike lanes “without taking parking away from small businesses” and closed-circuit cameras. He endorsed bike lanes on any and all side streets. 
    • Peloquin noted that “painted lines are not protection,” and endorsed the Chicago Bike Grid Now pledge to make 10% of streets bike friendly. He also endorsed bringing more streets down to a 10 mile per hour speed limit. He expressed support for a road diet on North Broadway, adding a protected bike lane. He also “could think more outside the box on Clark Street in Andersonville with community input and support.”
    • Peters endorsed accessible pedestrian signals for individuals with hearing and visual impairments, as well as efforts to educate the public on safety. He also backed efforts to make Ridge Avenue more pedestrian friendly, He suggested protected bike lanes underneath the Red Line, funded in part by the Red-Purple Modernization. He also endorsed protected bike lanes on Ravenswood Avenue, as well as a mix of lanes and upgrades to Broadway, Clark, Glenwood and Ashland. He also suggested a protected bike lane on Berwyn Ave. 
    • Faulkner argued that the city should do more to protect pedestrians and cyclists. HE suggested a stop light at Ridge and Wayne, noting that crossing is difficult and a senior was killed a little over a year ago. He also called for cutting speed limits, and working on a bike grid for the ward. He endorsed comprehensive protected bike grid across the city, and called out Broadway as a good candidate in the ward. 
    • Manaa-Hoppenworth agreed that the city “absolutely must do more” to protect pedestrians and cyclists, and also referenced the city’s Climate Action Plan. She noted that delivery trucks blocking bike lanes have contributed to a number of recent cyclist deaths, and endorsed working with delivery companies to move deliveries to overnight hours, promoting local bike deliveries, and setting aside loading zones that don’t block bike paths. She wrote that “bikes are particularly vulnerable at the Clark/Ashland/Ridge intersection, on Broadway between Argyle and Damen, and at the Lake Shore Drive terminus.” 

Equitable Transit Oriented Development: All candidates expressed support for ETOD efforts, and many proposed specific sites for development. 

    • Freilich Jones backed ETOD efforts, and noted their potential to reduce Chicago’s climate impact. He committed to leverage the Connected Communities Ordinance in the ward. 
    • Svabek also mentioned the Connected Communities ordinance, and noted that “density near our transit stops will increase foot traffic for local businesses and provide needed affordability.” He mentioned the importance of including deeply-affordable, family-sized units. 
    • Dunne pointed to his track record as a developer on ETOD projects including the Lucy Gonzalez Parsons Apartments in Logan Square, and Wilson Yard in Uptown. He noted that he served on the ETOD working group “which helped inform and pass the Connected Communities Ordinance.” He highlighted the potential of sites within walking distance to the red line, including 5853 North Broadway. He also suggested redevelopment of CTA-owned sites that become available after the Red-Purple Modernization Program wraps up. 
    • Ward agreed that high transit corridors are “optimal locations for increased development.” He also suggested CTA-owned sites that will become available after the Red-Purple Modernization project concludes. He also endorsed the Affordable Requirements Ordinance, and would ensure that affordable units are built on site, expanded where possible, and prioritized for families, seniors and people with disabilities.
    • Haag wrote that he would expand the TOD area.  
    • Peloquin expressed his support for ETOD, and highlighted the housing shortage facing the city. He called for more efforts to incentivize developers to build affordable and market rate housing (with the ARO included). He also called for lifting parking minimums. 
    • Peters called for a “proactive, inclusive and collaborative approach” to ETOD. He endorsed developing everything from Single Room Occupancy Housing (SROs) to larger “family size” units. He also endorsed using Covid federal funds to purchase hotels and turn them into SROs, as well as by using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds. 
    • Faulkner agreed that more affordable housing options were required. He wrote that he’d create a housing and zoning advisory council that would be tasked with creating a plan for ETOD projects.  
    • Manaa-Hoppenworth endorsed ETOD and the Connected Communities Ordinance, and wrote that “in the 48th ward, people are getting displaced by development and priced out of the ward, so I would work with the people who are already a part of the community to be involved with the new development. We must also ensure that developers who are given approval on large developments near transit stations meet their affordable housing requirements on-site.”

Accessory Dwelling Units and 3-Flat Legalization: All candidates endorsed expanding ADUs. Ward, Peloquin, and Peters stood up for legalizing 3-flats, while the rest of the field said nice things about them, but avoided committing to allowing them citywide.   

    • Freilich Jones backed ADU expansion, but hedged on 3-flats, saying that he supported them “subject to local community review and approval.”
    • Svabek wrote that expanding making the ADU ordinance permanent was a “top priority” and he’d work with residents to help them take advantage of the ordinance. He was broadly supportive of three flats, but didn’t commit to supporting citywide legalization writing: “I am committed to creating a development and zoning plan that preserves our ward’s stock of two- and three-flat apartments, and makes it easier to build affordable multi-unit housing.” 
    • Dunne also backed the ADU expansion and said a lot of nice things about 3-flats without committing to allowing new ones. He noted that the ward’s density was the engine of its economic diversity, and that 2 and 3-flats provided naturally-occurring affordable housing.  He also wrote that it was necessary to protect existing 2- and 3-flats from deconversion.
    • Ward didn’t hedge—he provided a clear “yes” to both ADU expansion and 3-flat legalization. He also endorsed deconversion fees citywide and strengthening the Single Room Occupancy pilot. 
    • Haag was enthusiastic in his support of ADUs, but declined to back legalizing 3-flats. On ADUs he noted that the program had promise to bring affordability online quickly, and could also boost smaller landlords. He also suggested more efforts to convert office space to residential uses. He endorsed 3-flats “in any area that the affected local residents want it and vote for it thru a full community process,” which is essentially the status quo. 
    • Peloquin was an enthusiastic supporter of both ADU legalization and 3-flat legalization and pointed out that more housing was needed “to even start to address” the city’s affordable housing shortage. He also expressed support for other reforms to zoning rules to address the city’s housing shortage, and described himself as a “Yes In My Back Yard candidate.” 
    • Peters endorsed both the ADU ordinance and 3-flat legalization. He expressed skepticism that the ADU expansion will “make much of a difference in our quest to build more ETOD and affordable housing.”
    • Faulkner endorsed the ADU expansion, but didn’t take a position on 3-flat legalization, writing that he’d leave that to his housing/zoning advisory council.   
    • Manaa-Hoppenworth backed ADU expansion, and also suggested support to help guide homeowners through the process of constructing an ADU. She was also positive on 3-flats in the ward, but didn’t endorse legalization citywide—and also said that zoning changes should be a “community-driven process.” She also endorsed applying a real estate transfer tax to deconversions of 2- and 3-flats into single family homes.  

Ward 49: Rogers Park 

Belia Rodriguez, Bill Morton, and Maria Hadden
Belia Rodriguez, Bill Morton, and Maria Hadden
Belia Rodriguez, Bill Morton, and Maria Hadden

About the race: 3 candidates are running in this ward, which covers Rogers Park. Streetsblog received responses from business owner Belia Rodriguez, , Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce president Bill Morton, and incumbent Maria Hadden. Block Club coverage is available here

CTA Ridership: Rodriguez and Morton both mentioned safety as a driver of the decline in ridership, and Hadden and Morton both supported additional funding. 

    • Rodriguez noted that the CTA needed to improve safety to restore ridership, and also supported encouraging the use of public transportation to boost ridership. 
    • Morton suggested daily CTA briefings, increased security, more funding, and to prioritize CTA hiring. 
    • Hadden wrote that “right now we need to see an improvement in rider experiences,” and also endorsed additional funding to expand and enhance transit. 

Traffic safety: all candidates endorsed additional protections for cyclists. Rodriguez was the only candidate who suggested specific locations for more protected bike lanes. 

    • Rodriguez the city should “absolutely” do more, and endorsed both physical protection and a public awareness campaign, calling for efforts “on the culture change front.” She suggested North Clark and Sheridan as potential options, but noted that the high traffic on Sheridan also makes it unsafe. 
    • Morton also endorsed greater instructions about driver safety, PSAs, additional bike lanes, and biking instruction in elementary and high school. He did not offer any specific locations for protected bike lanes. 
    • Hadden noted that she was working with CDOT to improve safety and accessibility, and had a participatory budgeting proposal to connect a greenway in the ward with Evanston. She wrote that she was hopeful to make more protective infrastructure investments in her second term, and had requested specific locations for protected bike lanes from CDOT. 

Equitable Transit Oriented Development: All candidates endorsed additional ETOD investments. Hadden pointed to her sponsorship of the Connected Communities ordinance

    • Rodriguez strongly endorsed ETOD, and lauded partnerships between the city and private developers to create affordable units, describing it as a “fiscally responsible method to increase much needed housing,” while minimizing cost to taxpayers. 
    • Morton endorsed “university studies on which areas would be the best for Equitable Transit Oriented Development” and also suggested first using funds to maintain and improve current transit stock “and Equitable Transit Oriented Development second.”
    • Hadden noted that she was a lead sponsor of the Connected Communities ETOD ordinance, and is working to support ETOD projects in the ward. 

Accessory Dwelling Units and 3-Flat Legalization: All three candidates strongly endorsed legalizing 3-flats and were supportive of ADUs, although Rodriguez didn’t directly endorse the ADU expansion. 

    • Rodriguez noted that Rogers Park was an ADU pilot area, and expressed interest in finding out how it has worked “here in the ward and in other wards.” She didn’t take a clear position on expansion, but noted she previously lived in a coach house, and was familiar and supportive of making the best use of space. She strongly endorsed legalizing 3-flats, writing that “we need to build more housing and land is a finite resource. The best method is to build up, but of course, with a proper long-term plan in mind.” She took pains to underscore the urgency of Chicago’s housing crisis, noting that “every year we stifle supply, we compound our housing problems.” 
    • Morton endorsed both proposals, pointing out that Chicago was short 120,000 affordable housing units. 
    • Hadden provided a clear, unambiguous “yes” for both questions. 

Ward 50: West Ridge

Debra Silverstein
Debra Silverstein
Debra Silverstein

About the race: 2 candidates are running in this ward, which covers West Ridge. Streetsblog received a response from incumbent Ald. Debra Silverstein.  Also running is Mueze Bawany. Block Club coverage is available here

CTA Ridership: Silverstein endorsed improved hiring “from police to bus drivers to CTA maintenance workers,” and proposed bonuses and higher salaries, noting that “the City can’t function if it’s not fully staffed. She wrote that increasing police and security, as well as increasing frequency of service would make the system more appealing. Silverstein also called for a review of the performance of private security guards. Pointing to Massachusetts, which is engaging a search firm to support staffing for the MBTA, she argued that a portion of the expected state budget surplus should be used to support the CTA. She noted that she has supported additional funding for the CTA and the Red Line Extension, as well as pushing to require CTA leadership to testify before city council. 

Traffic Safety: Silverstein noted that the current spate of traffic deaths was a “crisis” and more should be done to build a “real network of safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians.” In particular, she noted that her ward has a large Orthodox Jewish Community and that “during Shabbat, we walk.” She pointed to lighting upgrades and streetscape improvements on Devon, as well as the Lincoln Village Pedestrian Bridge, and a second bridge under construction connecting to Lincolnwood. She noted that she had signed on to the Bike Grid Now pledge, and was adding protected bike lanes on Pratt. She also pointed to efforts to create a greener and more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly corridor along Western Avenue in the ward. Silverstein also noted the tragic death of a 9-year old boy in her Ward, and noted that she was the sponsor of the Fatal Crash Legacy Ordinance, which would require a formal safety plan at locations where pedestrians or cyclists are killed. 

Equitable Transit Oriented Development: Silverstein expressed support for the Connected Communities ordinance, and endorsed the Bring Chicago Home proposal to fund homelessness services.  She also noted her willingness to buck aldermanic prerogative to support more affordable housing, pointing to her support for the 297-unit Higgins Road development over the wishes of Ald. Anthony Napolitano. 

Accessory Dwelling Units and Three Flat Legalization: Silverstein provided an unambiguous “yes” on both ADUs and 3-flat legalization. 

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