Ald. Jason Ervin now faces challenger in West Side’s 28th Ward as opponent is reinstated

The Illinois Appellate Court overturned an election board ruling that Shawn A. Walker didn’t have enough signatures on his ballot petitions. Now he will face incumbent Ald. Jason Ervin in one of Chicago’s most violent wards.

SHARE Ald. Jason Ervin now faces challenger in West Side’s 28th Ward as opponent is reinstated
Ald. Jason Ervin (left) and challenger Shawn Walker. The two are running to represent the 28th Ward on the Chicago City Council.

Ald. Jason Ervin (left) and Shawn Walker. The two are running to represent the 28th Ward on the Chicago City Council.

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The question of who will represent a West Side ward that includes the most violent area in Chicago is no longer a done deal after a challenger was restored to the ballot.

Shawn Walker, a native of the ward and lone challenger to incumbent Ald. Jason Ervin, had been scratched from the 28th Ward ballot last month after the Chicago Board of Elections ruled he did not have enough valid signatures on his petitions.

But the Illinois Appellate Court overturned that decision on Friday. That means Walker, 49, will face Ervin to represent a ward encompassing parts of Garfield Park, Austin and North Lawndale. Ervin, chair of the Chicago City Council’s Black caucus, was first elected in 2011.

Ervin, however, said he plans to appeal the decision. And Walker has filed a motion to instead have a special election at a later date. The election now is less than a week away, and Walker was not on the ballot during early voting. About 350 ballots already have been cast — equal to about 4% of the roughly 8,000 votes cast in 2019.

For now, it appears the two will square off.

The ward is 69% Black, according to an analysis of census data by WBEZ and bounded roughly by Laramie Avenue to the west, Chicago Avenue to the north, the Chicago River to the east and 23rd Street to the south.

“I don’t see a lot of positiveness in our community,” Walker said. “East and West Garfield have seen a tremendous decline.”

The 60624 ZIP code includes broad swaths of both neighborhoods and is the most violent in the city. The risk of a man 18 to 29 years old dying in a shooting there was higher than the death rate for U.S. soldiers in the Afghanistan war or for soldiers in an Army combat brigade that fought in Iraq, according to a recent study.

“One of my first solutions for dealing with the crime is, I would like to provide the necessary resources to support the new police board, and support violence prevention programs,” Walker said.

He said he would also use his background as a construction consultant to bring development.

Ervin, also a lifelong West Sider, pushed back on public safety, saying he was advocating for police in the ward to copy the techniques of the nearby 15th Police District, which have had some success.

He also touted recent good news, such as plans by the Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative to build a walkable village, a project now backed by $10 million from the Pritzker Traubert Foundation. He also mentioned the Ogden Commons and Roosevelt Square developments and even plans for a Chicago Fire soccer facility, though that project has been criticized for its location on former Chicago Housing Authority land.

“Those individuals that are stoking flames don’t even live in that community,” said Ervin, 48. “All of those things are extremely exciting for the community and will put the West Side back on the map.”

Michael Loria is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South Side and West Side.

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