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Ald. Pope, Sadlowski Garza battle in 10th Ward runoff

Aldermanic control of Chicago’s Southeast corner, also known as the 10th Ward, will be decided in a runoff election April 7 between elementary school counselor Susan Sadlowski Garza and incumbent John Pope.

If elected, Garza says, she will allow residents to vote on how to spend the ward’s budget. Pope is against the idea.

“I’ve looked at that time and time again,” said Pope, 47, who was an assistant to former Mayor Richard M. Daley before he was elected to office in 1999. “That may work in some wards, but we’re very deliberate and equitable in terms of our distribution. All my communities get some sort of infrastructure improvements.”

The “Sadlowski” portion of Garza’s name is something many voters can identify with. Her father is Edward Sadlowski, a labor icon and former director of United Steel Workers of America Local 65 who fought to bring democratic reform to labor unions.

Garza, a Chicago Public Schools counselor at Jane Addams Elementary and a member of the Chicago Teachers Union, was critical of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school closing plan and walked the picket lines during the 2012 teachers strike.

Garza said she wants to change the reaction most people in the city have to 10th Ward communities such as Hegewisch — namely: “Where is that?”

“We need to put the 10th Ward on the map as a place where people want to come.”

Garza has no concrete marketing plans for the ward but plans to tap locals with marketing degrees for help. “The old adage ‘Build it and they will come’ is really something that holds true here. There’s nothing. There’s no coffee shop. We don’t even have a mom-and-pop coffee shop. People have to go to McDonald’s or Burger King for coffee.”

The ward suffered mightily when the steel mills pulled out.

Pope points to a Mariano’s grocery store slated to open next year as an anchor of economic development. He says a planned bicycle park will also bring people to the ward most people see only from the Skyway.

Both candidates emphasize any community benefit agreement with developers who want to build on hundreds of acres of 10th Ward lakeside property that formerly housed a U.S. Steel site must include provisions for thousands of jobs and affordable housing for ward residents.

Pope has received campaign donations from a political action committee with close ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Asked if he was an Emanuel loyalist, Pope said, “I am a loyalist to 10th Ward residents.

Pope made headlines last year when it came to light he’d hired a man who’d been placed on the city’s do-not-hire list over allegations of sexual harassment while the man worked for the city’s Streets and Sanitation Department.

“When I became aware of that I took immediate action to terminate him. Done,” Pope said Wednesday.

Crime is also at the forefront for residents who fear traveling through some parts of the ward because of gang activity, according to community activist Amalia NietoGomez.

“I received the FOP endorsement,” Pope said. “I’m involved in CAPS, and I’ve been promoting the summer job program to keep kids off the street.”

Garza, 55, said she plans to bring together the police force and community members to create a greater level of trust that will lead to better communication to help fight crime.

Pope received 4,181 votes to claim 44 percent of 10th Ward votes in the Feb. 24 election that forced the runoff. Garza garnered 2,287 votes for 24 percent of votes cast.