When a man and woman get married, we "congratulate" the man, the assumption being that he has done well in his choice of a wife. On the other hand, we offer the wife "best wishes" because for her, the reality is that the kind of husband he will make is unforeseen.
The election of Lori Lightfoot as our new mayor is like that marriage ceremony. I'm using it as an analogy because I'm confused as to whether to offer "best wishes" in her role as mayor or "congratulations." And before someone jumps to the wrong conclusion, this has nothing to do with her sexual orientation. What it's about is whether her ascension to a seat of power is automatically a good thing for the city or one we hope will be best for the city.
Lightfoot's election was a classic case of voting for the devil we didn't know over the devil we did know. Her actions will say a lot about whether her default selection is the best thing that we have done or the worst thing that could have happened.
When all is said and done, however, I truly believe she was the better option over Toni Preckwinkle, who was the deciding vote on that infamous sugar tax. She coated it beautifully telling us it was all about our health. However as a history teacher, Preckwinkle should have remembered the Boston Tea Party. This country was built on the notion that you do not tax our favorite drink to the point where people revolt over it. It is also a warning to other politicians. Reckless spending cannot be offset by taxation. Many of them would do well to be better fiscal managers as opposed to tax-and-spend politicians.
Just prior to the election, I went to the forum they held at the Kehrein Center in Austin. Lori Lightfoot showed up, but Toni Preckwinkle was a no-show because of a scheduling conflict. Lightfoot made a lot of promises at that forum that we as Westsiders need to hold her to. One of those promises was to put a Westsider on the Chicago Park District board.
When I heard that, I immediately thought of Dwayne Truss. He has been on the Columbus Park Advisory Council for years. I'm a firm believer that if we have viable parks, we can offer the use of those facilities as an alternative to kids just being out on the streets. So I want to get on the bandwagon to encourage Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot to put individuals on those boards who are truly going to work for the benefit of the community and not those who merely want name recognition and do nothing beyond that.
Mayor-elect Lightfoot also spoke of rebuilding the small business community. All one has to do is travel further east on North Avenue to see all the businesses that have opened there because of the prosperity of Bucktown near North Avenue and Milwaukee. I believe the rest of North Avenue can attain that same sort of vibrancy under the right leadership.
We should be able to walk out of our houses and go to the corner store and not have it be the mess that is currently there. My vision for a revitalized business strip would have the business on the first floor and the business owner living above it. I'm talking about beautiful brick structures with modern-day amenities. That would bring a lot of stability and vitality to this community.
So congratulations, Lori Lightfoot, on your election — and best wishes on the job.
Arlene Jones writes a weekly column for our sister publication, Austin Weekly News.
Answer Book 2018
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