After defeating nine other candidates for retiring Ald. Michael Chandler’s open 24th Ward seat, Ald.-elect Michael Scott, Jr. says he has big plans to “shake things up” and “end business as usual” in the West Side ward he’s called home for the past 38-years.
“Change is always an issue for everybody, and what I hope to do is something different than what has been happening in our community for the past twenty-to-twenty five years,” Scott explained.
The son of late Chicago Public School Board President Michael Scott, Sr. had name recognition and help from several sitting Council members in his bid for the open seat. However, with so many candidates on the February 24th ballot, he was forced into a runoff against business woman Vetress Boyce, which he then handedly won with 67% of the vote. Ultimately a large crowd of sitting aldermen helped Scott earn his win, including the incumbent Ald. Chandler, Ald. Jason Ervin (28), Ald. Carrie Austin (34), Ald. Walter Burnett (27), and former 28th Ward Ald. Ed Smith.
Local Priorities: After 12 years serving as a Chicago Park District Area Manager, Scott says he’ll take a different approach from most aldermen before him by focusing his efforts on cleaning up the ward. “Everyone talks about [bringing] economic development and businesses to the ward, but I think that we need to start by cleaning up the ward. When I toured the ward, one thing I noticed was how unkempt and uncleanly the ward is,” Scott explained that shortly after he was elected, he and campaign volunteers had a ward-wide cleanup day. Scott believes that by tackling cleanliness first, the rest of the ward’s problems, like high crime and low economic investment, will be easier to manage because they are all interconnected.
On crime, Scott says he’s working with area police commanders to “improve” the relationship between the community and police so there is more of a “community policing model.” Scott says that once those two issues are addressed, more businesses will want to invest in the ward, bring jobs and spur development.
“I had plenty of opportunities to leave this community because of the direction I thought it was going in,” Scott concluded, noting that he has lived in the North Lawndale community for all his life. “However, my father always told me, ‘if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.’ And what I intend to be is part of the solution for the lack of economic development, fixing public safety, and cleanliness.”
Citywide Priorities: Addressing the city’s finances, finding new sources of revenue and balancing the budget are key for the new Council, says Scott. “We need to start figuring out a way to raise revenue.” He notes that he does not advocate raising or adding new taxes, but is aware that the city can’t afford to following in Springfield’s footsteps and balance the budget by slashing city services that many in his constituents depend on.
Caucus Alignment: Scott says he has been approached by members of the Progressive and Black Caucus and will likely join the latter because he and most of his constituents are African American. “I am going to be independent, other than the Black Caucus, right now,” Scott explained. “I am willing to talk to whomever if they are going to advance the issues that involve the entire city, and I will support those that directly impact the residents of the 24th Ward.” When pressed further to explain why he won’t be joining the Progressive Caucus, Scott replied that he doesn’t want to prematurely commit to a group whose agenda is not yet known. “I want to make sure that all of my options are open and I can make as many friends as I can in the Council because my ward needs as much help as it can get from a many number of sources I can,” Scott said.
Ward Office: Scott will use Michael Chandler’s old ward office on 4200 W. Roosevelt Rd. As of publication he had not determined a chief of staff.