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All three 16th Ward candidates want to reopen the Racine Green Line station

The three 16th Ward candidates, incumbent Stephanie Coleman, Dr. Carolynn Crump, Eddie Johnson III. Photo by Cameron Bolton.

Editor’s note: The Chicago municipal election will be held on Tuesday, February 28, 2023. Early voting is available at two locations downtown and at one site in each of the 50 wards. Find your sample ballot on the Chicago Board of Elections website. 

On Friday, February 17, the candidates running for alderman of the 16th Ward discussed what they would do to continue the community-led efforts to reopen the Racine Green Line station. The event was held at Inner-City Muslim CIty Action Network (IMAN) from 6 p.m. to a little after 7 p.m., and those in attendance had the opportunity to submit questions they wanted the three candidates to answer. Here are the people the community members would be voting for in the same location in which the forum was held.

The 16th Ward is one of those wards in Chicago that covers all or portions of a greater than usual number of neighborhoods. In fact, both the previous and new ward boundaries cover five community areas (West Englewood, Englewood, Chicago Lawn, New City, and a small part of Gage Park).

Incumbent alderperson Stephanie D. Coleman introduced herself by saying that she defeated the past alderman by 67 percent and stating that her mission for the past four years has been to bring the communities together. To do so, Coleman said she started by investing in the community. Some of the signs of that have been the Englewood Music Festival and the Ward’s first playlot. She’s also directed spending of discretionary menu funds that each alderperson controls of $4,533,000 on street resurfacing and $487,830 on sidewalk repair, in addition to other services like tree trimming.

Regarding transit and transportation, Alder. Coleman appeared to lament the timelines for transit improvements on the South Side. "You all, it took over 20 years for the expansion of the Red Line to happen,” she said. “The Red Line has expanded to 130th street [construction has not yet begun]. We don't have 20 years to open up the 63rd Green Line. It's already been 30 years.”

Coleman implored the audience to vote for her to show support for the reopening of the Racine Green Line station, “so that we can get more investment and more small businesses like the fresh green market…[and] more small, black-owned businesses on Racine, like the new Chicago Chicken Shack that has opened or the new soul food restaurant that's getting ready to open across the street.”.

Dr. Carolynn Crump is another 16th ward candidate. She said her family has lived in the 16th Ward since the 1850s. According to Crump, she's the fourth generation to live in the family's house since 1894. Crump said she is also a third-generation police officer on both sides of her family, with a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees, one in sports management and the other in business and administration. Crump plans to use that education, her doctorate in administration, and business skills to build the Englewood community. 

Crump had a bit of a different response about what she'll do regarding the Green Line station. Crump said she was more concerned about the crime occurring in those areas and that she would like to work with the community to build up the 16th Ward. "Opening up the 63rd Street and Racine Green Line station is a very good project and I do support that. However, we do need to clean up all the riff-raff around the areas of the CTA.”

Eddie Johnson III was the final candidate to speak. Johnson is a technology coordinator for Chicago Public Schools. He's also a community resident who provides several services for people in the neighborhood. After providing a lengthy list of the work he’s done in the community, Johnson said that he wasn’t going to mislead people by acting like he’s the only one working to improve the 16th Ward. 

Johnson said he is running for alderman to represent people and give voice to their feelings and their grief. If elected, Johnson said that he plans on speaking up, regardless of what the subject is or what it'll take. He called the current condition of the former Racine Green Line station an example of what happens when elected officials don't speak up, not just with it, but other businesses as well.

"I’m saying we need a voice y’all. We need a voice. We don’t need sound bites. We know what’s wrong with our community…We got to put the work in to have a voice. How are we going to come to the table and talk about open 63rd and Racine when we can’t even keep up [the stations at] 63rd and Halsted and 63rd and Ashland."

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