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Focus on 49

First and foremost, alderpersons are the chief advocate for city services for their constituents. In her first term, the community identified many priorities they wanted Maria to take on to improve the 49th Ward and the city. She spent her first 6-8 months in the office focused solely on constituent services.


Being new to the position of Alderwoman, Maria wanted to ensure that her staff had sufficient training to handle the service requests. Now, with more than three years in, Maria and her team are still working hard to make sure she continues to put the 49th Ward first, even while tackling legislative efforts.

A few of Maria's first-term accomplishments:

  • $25 million renovation of Sullivan High School, replacing the roof, windows, and doors, abating asbestos, and adding an elevator to create more accessibility.

  • New roof for Kilmer Elementary School and plumbing fix for the playground to address the drainage problem.

  • International Baccalaureate program for Kilmer Elementary, the first special program for Rogers Park schools in more than 28 years.

  • Funded a new running/walking track at Willye B White Park to support recreation activities at Gale Community Academy and the surrounding area.

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  • Set up extra support systems for small businesses to provide direct access to City recovery funds and economic development opportunities during the pandemic.

  • Created initiatives like the Alderwoman’s Table and On the Map to help promote local businesses.

  • Worked with business attraction groups to fill vacant storefronts along our commercial corridors.

  • Completed community planning process for Howard/Ashland site and secured a local development partner to bring new development to Howard Street.

  • Proactive engagement with new and existing businesses to find them different, improved, and new commercial spaces in the Ward.

  • Support for small businesses when there are issues with negligent landlords.

  • Supporting 110 units of new affordable housing and new commercial space on Howard St.

  • Set up the Rogers Park Community Response Team, which, together with community organizations and over 200 volunteers, organized 100s of weekly free food and medicine deliveries, and wellness checks for seniors, raised over $65,000 for direct cash aid to ward residents, and created a hotline for aid and covid information.

  • Organized multiple covid testing and vaccine events for our ward when the City wasn’t yet serving our neighborhood.

  • Provided multiple rounds of PPE and information to ward businesses, community organizations, schools, and our most vulnerable residents, and advocated for more public resources for continued support, particularly for our schools and senior living facilities.

  • Secured $3M in shoreline stabilization and erosion protection for our most impacted beaches during the 2019-2020 winter season to protect against further damage due to the high lake levels and climate change-driven storm damage.

  • Managed response, recovery, and restoration efforts from the 2020 Tornado, a first for our ward.

  • Organized relief and rehousing efforts for dozens of residents after multiple building fires.

  • Secured housing for 84 people experiencing homelessness in the ward and regular services for dozens of others without shelter in Touhy Park and around the ward.

  • Created a community-based zoning process, moving development decisions from a small group of developers behind closed doors to an open process for all.

  • Established regular updates and more language access for our community through the weekly newsletter in English and Spanish and made all community meetings bilingual.

  • Expanded access to community participation through virtual meetings in addition to in-person options.

  • Created the 49th Ward Youth Advisory Council to give high school-aged youth a place to engage with their elected representative during their remote learning year.

  • Created the Climate Action Task Force to identify and implement climate solutions for the 49th Ward.

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