Morehouse College Graduate Seeks to Become Chicago's Youngest Alderman

By Wendell Hutson on June 17, 2014 8:10am 

 Corey Hardiman, 23, seeks to become the youngest alderman elected to the Chicago City Council in 2015.
Corey Hardiman, 23, seeks to become the youngest alderman elected to the Chicago City Council in 2015.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

ROSELAND — Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) in 1999 was elected the youngest alderman at age 31. Now one of his potential opponents, Corey Hardiman, wants to do the same thing at age 23.

Hardiman on Saturday announced at the Roseland Christian Ministries shelter that he would challenge Beale in the city election next year. While on spring break in March, Hardiman brought 14 classmates to Chicago for a week of volunteering including work at the shelter.

Hardiman, who grew up and lives in Roseland, graduated in May from Morehouse College in Atlanta with a bachelor's degree in political science, and he said he was now ready for a bigger challenge.

"I know people may think I am too young and inexperienced and that I won't be able to raise enough money to put fourth a good fight but that's what they said (in 2008) about President Barack Obama," Hardiman told DNAinfo Chicago Monday. "If he was able to do it, then so can I."

The aspiring politician, who is a member of Salem Baptist Church, said he was scheduled to speak at 6 p.m. Monday to residents at the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex on the far South Side, which is part of the 9th Ward.

"I am going to speak to residents to let them know their opinion matters to me and I want to hear their concerns regardless if they are a registered voter or not," Hardiman said. "Ever since I graduated from high school I have always wanted to enter politics to make a difference in my community."

In 2010, after graduating from George Corliss High School as a Gates Millennium Scholar, where Beale is also an alumnus, Hardiman predicted at Mayor Richard M. Daley's annual interfaith breakfast at U.S. Cellular Field that he would run for mayor after finishing college.

"Well, maybe I was aiming too high at the time," Hardiman said. "But I certainly think it is a realistic goal."

Among the biggest issues facing the ward, Hardiman said, were public safety, education and economic development. While he praised Beale, 46, for "finally" getting a Walmart store in the ward, he said much more needed to be done on an economic level.

 In 1999, Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) was elected as the youngest alderman at age 31.
In 1999, Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) was elected as the youngest alderman at age 31.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

"If we could get President Obama's library to the far South Side that would create unlimited opportunities economically," Hardiman said. "Gone are the 'ma and pa' businesses in the 9th Ward and we need to bring back those small, family owned businesses."

Beale said he went to Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago to lobby for the Obama library because he too believed it would provide a much-needed economic boost for the 9th Ward.

"That is what I am fighting for," Beale said. "Having the library on the far South Side would add value to a part of the city many people are unaware exist."

As far as Hardiman's attempt to unseat him in the February 2015 election, Beale said, "I applaud any young person who wants to become a public servant."

Hardiman said if he did not win he would pursue a master's degree in public policy and eventually run for elected office again.

As an only child, Hardiman has lived with his grandmother since high school.

"My mom used to live with us but she got married while I was away at school," Hardiman said. "I could have moved with her but I wanted to stay with my grandmother and do something to improve my community."

In 2012, Hardiman founded the nonprofit Enough Chicago as a platform to encourage young people to focus on education and to get politicians to increase the number of city community centers.

By August, Hardiman said he would have a website, campaign staff and office in place.

Until the election Hardiman said he would be working as a summer literacy coach at LaVizzo Elementary School in Roseland, where he is an alumnus, and in the fall he would be working at a South Side charter school as dean of students.

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