BRIDGEPORT — Maureen Sullivan, the homegrown activist, author, organizer and neighborhood historian, has announced her candidacy for 11th Ward alderman.
At a campaign kickoff event outside the shuttered Ramova Theater on Monday, Sullivan came out swinging against sitting alderman James Balcer and the Daley clan — political heavyweights who she said have an icy grip on the city's oldest neighborhood.
Casey Cora says Sullivan is well-known in the community in this breakdown of the 11th Ward race:
Choosing the rundown theater as the backdrop couldn't be more poignant.
The city-owned building is surrounded by boarded-up storefronts on an ailing stretch of Halsted Street, and it's also located within eyeshot the 11th Ward offices and next to Cook County Commissioner John Daley's private insurance business.
On Monday, about 50 supporters gathered outside the theater to back Sullivan's candidacy.
Among them were Kieran Delaney, 40, a graphic designer who said he's been frustrated with Balcer for about a dozen years.
"When we ask the alderman for anything it feels like we're imposing," he said.
Sullivan said she's hoping to turn that pent-up frustration into votes.
"I know I can win. When I knock on doors in this neighborhood, this ward, people already know who I am. We went to the same schools, the same church ... I love to talk directly to my neighbors. I'm not afraid to knock on doors. Knocking on doors and engaging neighbors is exactly what we're missing in this ward. That's how I plan to win this race," she said.
Her just-launched campaign website contains biographical information and her progressive political platform, one that criticizes charter schools, the misuse of Tax Increment Financing and rubber-stamping Mayor Rahm Emanuel by the City Council.
At Monday's rally, she also took a jab at Emanuel, calling him a "Wall Street banker from Wilmette."
At the local level, Sullivan, who founded the Bridgeport Business Association, has pledged to boost economic redevelopment on South Halsted Street and elsewhere, improve public transit options and invite more feedback from 11th Ward residents, among other campaign promises.
Joining Sullivan in the 11th Ward race is John Kozlar, a 25-year-old law student who runs the Canaryville Little League for neighborhood kids. Kozlar has said details on his platform will be released soon.
Balcer has not announced whether he'll seek another term. He did not return multiple messages seeking comment.
In her campaign announcement email blast, Sullivan called Balcer a "do-nothing alderman" and vowed to usher in a new era of civic reform in Bridgeport.
"We've seen it all. Their record speaks for itself. The neglect by the leadership of the past 17 years has led to blight, to poverty, heightened crime and a tremendous waste of some of the city's best-located neighborhoods. We have had enough. It's time for a change," she said.
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