La Voz Interview with Alderman Roberto Maldonado-26th Ward

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Community As Campus

The Community As Campus (CAC) project is a highly innovative approach to reverse the increasingly negative trend of dropout rates and poor academic achievement among the youth in Humboldt Park. Our community is at a critical juncture in preparing our youth for the future. We must address not only the problems our youth face here at home (drop out rates due to early pregnancy, involvement in gangs and drugs, or simply a lack of hope for the future), but also the challenges they will face competing in a global and highly technological society. In the 26th Ward, none of the ten CPS schools rank above the 50th percentile in academic achievement.

As a community member, father, and Alderman, I will support the PRCC in all of its efforts to implement the CAC project. The first step will be to engage the whole array of community-based organizations (affordable housing, faith- based, etc.) and secure their commitment in participating in the CAC project. I will commit my staff resources to organize CAC Commitment meetings to accomplish this goal. I will also work with the Chicago Public Schools’ CEO, Terry Mazany, to secure his support and any resources and funding that may be available and seek funding from any appropriate City of Chicago resources to make CAC a reality.

Economic Development
on Paseo Boricua

As a former Paseo Boricua small business owner, I understand the pitfalls and challenges of these rough economic times. I created the Business and Economic Development Advisory Council, which meets bimonthly to discuss ways to strengthen existing businesses by utilizing Small Business Investment Funds (SBIFs), Tax Increment Financing (TIF), infrastructure upgrades, and other financial incentives. I will use all of these resources to the fullest extent to help small businesses on Paseo Boricua survive this economic storm. I will also support measures that will make the city regulatory process less cumbersome such as streamlining the business licensing, permitting, and fee assessment process, which could include a single, annual payment for all regulatory requirements.

In the same way, I am working to strengthen and expand the Puerto Rican Restaurant & Culture district on Paseo Boricua and will also use all City financial resources to the fullest extent to help the existing restaurants to stay afloat and eventually, expand and grow.

Greening of Paseo Boricua

The 26th Ward is a food desert and the lack of a supermarket is detrimental to the health and well being of the residents. One of my top priorities since being appointed alderman has been to attract a 30,000 square foot, high quality, affordable supermarket to the 26th Ward. Residents of this community should have the opportunity to shop for fresh produce and healthy foods where they live. Without this opportunity and the exposure to healthy foods, the health of our residents will continue to decline.

The “Greening of Paseo Boricua” and the Fresh produce Cooperative complements my vision for the ward and brings it to a higher level of food opportunity and distribution. It is a comprehensive approach to a problem that is in desperate need of creative, workable solutions.

I will commit my staff resources and any appropriate funding from the City of Chicago or other sources to make this project a reality.

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