Tuesday, March 29, 2011

6th Ward: Lyle vs. Sawyer a choice of political style

There’s not much of an age difference between 6th Ward Ald. Freddrenna Lyle, 59, and run- off opponent Roderick Sawyer, 47. So you really can’t call it old-school vs. new school.

In this economically diverse and increasingly crime-plagued South Side ward stretching west from Chatham and Park Manor to East Englewood, it is not even about different visions.

Sawyer vs. Lyle in the April 5 election is more about political style.

“There are some policy things we differ on. He thinks I should have been more proactive on business development, that my process of having businesses go before community groups and vet their proposals is a hindrance,” said Lyle, one of seven incumbents in run-offs supported by Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel. “I don’t superimpose my decisions on the community.”

Both Lyle, on the City Council 13 years, and Sawyer, son of the respected longtime 6th Ward alderman and late Mayor Eugene Sawyer, raise as top priorities crime, education, and jobs.

With entrenched middle-class pockets on the east and similarly lodged poverty pockets on the west, it’s the ward where two Chicago police officers, Thomas Wortham IV and Michael Bailey, died in brazen, high-profile murders in Chatham and Park Manor, respectively.

Of the 16 Chicago public schools in its boundaries, 14 are on academic probation.

And while a recent report said the ward in the last decade bucked the trend of declining jobs — actually seeing a 9 percent increase — business corridors like those on 71st, 75th and 79th streets, or Cottage Grove, could stand fewer empty storefronts.

“And it may not be as sexy as those three issues, but an overriding concern when I talk to people is the lack of response to basic service requests,” said Sawyer, knocking on doors on a recent weekday. “The alderman has become complacent and thinks she has done her job. But the key is to do your job well. A ‘C’ might pass in school. It won’t get you elected.”
I wanted to ask this question over the weekend, however, I wanted to keep it as close to neutral as possible. Do you think the ward could be in better hands under Roderick Sawyer or under Ald. Lyle?

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