Newly-elected Alderman Chris Taliferro has quite a term ahead of him. Just days after the City of Chicago’s bond rating was dropped to “junk” and the state’s pension plan was ruled unconstitutional, the 29th Ward alderman predicted the pension problem will be Council’s top priority, “I have no doubt.”
Taliaferro says the rush of the past few days preparing for his new term have been a blur. He’s an attorney and is upset that he hasn’t had time to read the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision yet. But as a former police officer expecting a pension, he says he agrees with the ruling. “I know it’s unconstitutional to reduce or remove or take any benefits that were bargained for,” he tells Aldertrack, “It really affects my pension as well, through the Chicago Police Department.”
This is Taliferro’s first elected office. He defeated Ald. Deborah Graham, who had big backing from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Forward–together, they donated $120,000 to her campaign. But Taliaferro came out on top April 7, with 52% of the vote.
Despite the enormous task of helping to set Chicago’s financial future straight, Taliaferro refuses to accept he’s facing big challenges. “I look forward to Monday. I have a vision for the residents of the 29th Ward and I know I’m going to have their support 110%.”
Some of Taliferro’s other thoughts before Inauguration Day:
Top Priorities for 29th Ward: Taliaferro says he’s confronting two big tasks in the 29th ward, which includes Austin, Galewood and parts of Montclare, Belmont Heights and West Garfield Park: crime and economic development. The Ald.-Elect says that might sound like a familiar refrain from his ward’s alderman, but he says, “there are several businesses that approached me about coming to Austin. These are ones that want to grow with the community.”
But first, he says, Austin has to solve its crime problem. Taliferro is a former Marine who taught weapons and tactics during Operation Desert Storm, and started serving with the Chicago Police Department in 1994. He currently serves as a sergeant in the 25th District, which includes Austin. “We have to reduce crime, especially in summer months.”
Taliferro says he’s entertained the idea of creating a police substation in areas that need them most. He says Cook County 1st District Commissioner Richard Boykin has brought up the idea of bringing in the Cook County Sheriff’s Department to help the Chicago Police Department.
“Once we clean up the crime or reduce the crime, I think that is such a rich, rich area” that businesses will make their way to Austin.
Possible partners on Council: Taliaferro wouldn’t disclose which aldermen he plans to work with, but says he’s “reached out, sat down, had lunch, gone by their offices,” and several aldermen have offered guidance. He says he is a member of the Progressive Caucus and has plans to join the Black Caucus.
Committee interests: The Ald.-Elect says serving on Public Safety is a natural fit, but he’s under the impression he’ll serve on four or more others.
What he wants others to know about the 29th Ward: “I think we’re going to fight hard to change the misconception of the West Side particularly. The West Side is a rich and vibrant community, so we’re going to fight hard to rejuvenate and revitalize it. It’s not just known for crime or being an impoverished community or the unemployment rate. It’s a great community to live in.”
Other details: His chief of staff will be Pamela Anderson, and his ward office will be located at 6272 W. North Ave.