WASHINGTON HEIGHTS —A South Side hair salon owner, who is also a neighbor to Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), is gearing up to run against him in the 2015 city elections.
And Doris Brooks said her decision to run was not fueled by the recent bribery indictment of the alderman’s former chief of staff, Curtis Thompson Jr.
“I have been thinking about this for two years,” said the 64-year-old wife and mother of two adult daughters. “I do not want to move out of the ward or go to other neighborhoods to spend my money, so I need to do something to improve the ward.”
Brooks said she wants to be proud of where she lives, “and right now I am not.” She has lived in the ward, which includes Auburn Gresham and West Chatham, for 30 years.
Brookins, who was first elected alderman in 2003, said he knew he would not run unopposed next year.
“Everyone has a right to run, including my neighbor Doris Brooks. I knew there would be challengers, but I did not expect one of them to be my neighbor,” Brookins said.
As far as major issues facing the ward, Brooks said crime and unemployment top her list.
Brooks, a Hyde Park Academy High School alumnus, also said she is against the “abundance of liquor stores and vacant lots” in the ward.
Brookins disagreed that there were too many liquor stores.
“I would not say there are an abundance of liquor stores. People need to know that the alderman does not have the last say in what businesses open in his ward,” said Brookins. “While aldermen do have influence, they cannot handpick every business in their ward. If that was possible, there would be a variety of businesses in the 21st Ward.”
Brookins said he was disappointed that more businesses, such as sitdown restaurants, have not moved into the Chatham Market strip mall at 8331 S. Holland Road.
“I fought hard to bring Wal-Mart to the ward, and now I am fighting to get more businesses to fill out the mall,” Brookins said. “I would have thought by now the mall would be filled to capacity but that has not happened. Attracting more businesses to the ward is one of my priorities in my next term."
Brooks owns Scoop’s Hair Mechanics Barber & Beauty, 9407 S. Ashland Ave., with her husband, and said if elected she would turn over daily operations to him.
Brookins, a licensed funeral director, co-owns Brookins Funeral Home, 9315 S. Ashland Ave., with his family.
Both Brooks and Brookins live in the 9600 block of South Winston Avenue in the Washington Heights neighborhood.
“I want my neighborhood to look like Beverly, where liquor stores are not on every other corner,” said Brooks, a former events coordinator for WVON radio. “When you drive through Beverly and my ward, it is like night and day.”
She also contended that Brookins was not available enough, saying it would help if “the alderman were more accessible to residents."
However, Brookins said he meets weekly with his constituents — and has heard frequently from his opponent.
“All she has to do is come knock on my door if she wants to talk. She has done it before,” recalled Brookins. “As a matter of fact, Doris has stopped me while I was driving down the street to talk to me about concerns she had.”