This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Alderman Patrick O’Connor. Elected in 1983, Alderman O’Connor has represented the residents of the north side of Chicago since the age of 28. As a lifelong Chicagoan, he has worked tirelessly over the years to serve the community and better the lives of his constituents. On the 40th Ward website it reads, “There’s no more local government than an aldermanic public servant, you are in and among your constituents. You live there, you grew up there, you see the people you serve every day and you feel honored to do your best for everyone.”
“A neighborhood is not just a place that you live, it’s a place that you make livable.”
– Alderman O’Connor.
Listen to Episode 40 with 40th Ward Alderman, Patrick O’Connor!
Here are some references from Episode 40 that you may want to check out:
- Alderman O’Connor is a lifelong resident of Chicago. He grew up on the north side and has five siblings, three of which still live five blocks from his house. His mom lived close as well until she passed away in the summer of 2018. He met his wife in grammar school and raised his own five children here, and they all live within a half mile of him.
- He graduated from Mather High School and attended Loyola University for college and law school. He always wanted to be an attorney. When he decided to run for public office, he couldn’t think of a better place to be then the place he had known all his life
- When Alderman O’Connor first started representing Andersonville, there was a Methadone clinic on Clark Street and he comments on how much the business population has changed over the years. Andersonville has gone from an area on the cusp to, if you look at Redfin, one of the top 10 places in the country to live. According to Alderman O’Connor, Andersonville has a good mix of new and long-time residents.
- According to Alderman O’Connor, in Andersonville, the housing stock is great, schools are doing well and the business District is thriving. Andersonville has hit its stride and Alderman O’Connor thinks the biggest issue the neighborhood is now facing is trying to control the cost of being here, so folks can continue to be here. He believes in advocating for small business owners, and there are nearly 300 in Andersonville alone.
“Independent business are the hallmark of the district and I do my best to maintain the character of the neighborhood by working with the Chamber, landlords and the City of Chicago.”
– Alderman O’Connor
- Alderman O’Connor served as the Chair on the Committee of Education Development for 20 years and was instrumental in bringing Northside College Preparatory School to the north side along with the Board of Education and Mayor Daley. Northside College Prep was the first high school in over 20 years that was built on the north side. There was a need to create an option for residents so that they didn’t move from the neighborhood when looking for a good high school for their children.
- Local schools in the 40th and 48th Ward have become “schools of choice” in this area, and Alderman O’Connor emphasizes the importance of capital improvements in schools. He referenced Amundsen High School at Lawrence and Damen. Enrollment at Amundsen High School is going up and “the principle there is a dynamo.” Alderman O’Connor says great school needs strong leadership and financial help from the City.
- The job of an Alderman has two parts: the first is to serve as the steward of the City’s services for the community and to obtain what is needed to maintain a quality of life that is acceptable and achievable for that community. The second role is to help inform and pass on public policy that relates to the entire City directly to the area constituents.
- Alderman O’Connor also Chairs the Workforce Development Committee. This committee is responsible for maintaining fair labor standards. On the day the podcast was recorded, the Committee passed a collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters Local and earlier this year increased minimum wage and passed an ordinance for earned sick time.
- Alderman’s O’Connor helped build the West Ridge Nature Preserve which saved 20 acres of land from being developed. There is a lake in the park that is stocked with fish where people can catch Bluegills and Sunfish. Alderman O’Connor has a soft spot for the location, as he grew up a block west of Rosehill Cemetery and played by the lake when he was a kid. In the future they are looking to add a Natural Playground and Alderman O’Connor encourages everyone in the neighborhood to at least walk through it once. It is filled with incredible wildlife, like deer with full racks of horn. Check out the video here!
- When asked to give advice for upcoming politicians, the Alderman mentions using modern technology as a communicative tool and not as a weapon saying, “When you weaponize those technologies, you take away their effectiveness.”
- If Huey’s were still around, Alderman O’Connor would work there as he has always wanted to own a hot dog stand. Huey’s was a former business at 1507 W. Balmoral and beloved by many. It closed in 2014. If he ever wins the lottery, Alderman O’Connor is going to teach history and own a hot dog stand.
- If given the chance to swap places with and Andersonville business, today he would choose to work at Replay Andersonville (5358 N. Clark) because he loves old video games. He wouldn’t make any money, but he would get better and better at those games.