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Maria's Priorities

"This first term has brought more challenges than any of us could've anticipated. Despite those challenges, I've made significant progress on the issues most important to our community. I look forward to continuing the work and advancing our goals over another term in office." - Maria Hadden

Safe & Healthy Community


We deserve a safe and healthy community for all. Our community's health needs measures beyond policing––especially during the current circumstances of limited police staffing––to find safety solutions, including wellness and violence prevention strategies. Our city has faced unprecedented challenges to safety in the last three years that have left no neighborhood untouched. With the pandemic influencing economic and social hardships, we lost some progress toward stability for our community. However, I promised I'd take a holistic approach to safety and prioritize funding to combat the root causes of instability, and I've spent the first term doing just that.


Consistent investment in infrastructure, programs, and services has helped improve community health and decrease violence. Some of the accomplishments from my first term include the following:


  • Fighting for and winning new investments in violence prevention and funding for programs and services for our youth. This funding allowed for the expansion of violence prevention teams that serve our community in the last year to directly address the increase in gun violence that we’ve seen all over the city. 

  • Directly invested $100,000 in city grant money to youth-serving organizations in our ward for summer diversion programming in 2022.

  • Supported the funding to bring a 24/7 non-police mental health crisis response team to our ward.

  • Made our beaches safer for everyone by bringing flotation devices to our entire Chicago shoreline to prevent future drownings. These life rings have already saved numerous lives.

  • Advocated for and won pandemic safety protection for Senior Citizens.

  • Secured additional funds and staffing for the Ombudsman program that supports our nursing home residents.

  • Passed legislation for new heating and cooling requirements to better protect residents from the impacts of climate change.

  • Advocated for and won increases in funding for:

    • gender-based violence prevention services

    • 40 additional public health clinicians

    • a legal defense fund and protections for immigrants and refugees

  • Co-sponsored and advocated for the Empowered Communities for Public Safety ordinance which created a new civilian oversight structure for public safety at the district level.

  • Built a good relationship with the local police department through regular check-ins with the Commander and the CAPs officers.

Second Term Goals
  • Improve community health by expanding access to mental health services by continuing to fight for Treatment Not Trauma initiative which aims to open new neighborhood clinics and increase public health staff citywide.

  • Improve community and police relations by working with the newly elected District Council to increase community participation with the police district.

  • Encourage community-based safety initiatives by strengthening and expanding our ward Block Club program and providing more opportunities for neighbors to connect with each other and the local business community.

  • Increase funding for violence prevention programs, including those active in our Ward by continuing to advocate for their funding through City and State programs.

  • Improve security along our business corridors by continuing to advocate for the return of police beat patrols.

  • Improve bicycle and pedestrian safety throughout the ward by creating protected bike lanes and having CDOT address dangerous intersections.

Safe and Healthy Community

Development Without Displacement


Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Every day my office works on housing and economic development plans that will address major issues for growth and stability in our ward. I promised development without displacement, which required a different approach from how Ward 49 has done things in the past. My process intentionally incorporates community feedback; no decision concerning residents moves forward without resident input. Every development decision I make has the long-term community benefit in mind while focusing on long-term affordability, economic stability, and community wealth building. I don’t take any money from developers nor put their interests above those of my constituents.


Some of my accomplishments in the first term:


  • Brought full affordability to 57 units in the Levy House senior building, which was at risk of being turned into all market-rate housing. The former alderman had promised a solution for Levy. Still, after I took office, we learned that the CHA deal was incomplete and would not provide full affordability for senior residents. I worked with The Preservation of Affordable Housing and CHA to make the units fully affordable to keep seniors in their homes.

  • Completed a corridor development initiative for the city-owned lots at Howard and Ashland to center neighbors in the North of Howard community in planning for development. Based on the outcomes of the process, we’ve been working to create new affordable home ownership options for neighbors to bring economic security through housing stability and real opportunities for community wealth building.

  • Approved and helped secure funding for a 72-bed homeless shelter in our neighborhood to provide the additional beds we desperately need so individuals don’t have to resort to living on the streets or in our parks.

  • Led and passed citywide legislation to make more affordable housing developments possible in our ward through equitable transit-oriented development. 

  • Working on a housing project that will bring 110 new affordable units for working families at the Howard “L” stop.

  • Leading the legislation to Bring Chicago Home and create a dedicated source of City funding for homelessness prevention.

Second Term Goals
  • Create new opportunities for affordable home ownership by developing a new co-operative housing building on Howard Street at Howard/Ashland.

  • Improve public transit services by advocating for new investments in our CTA and Metra stations to make them safer and more accessible.

  • Increase affordable housing units by breaking ground on 100+ unit transit-oriented development at Howard and Paulina.

  • Support renters in our community by continuing to advocate for their rights and providing them with resources to guarantee their access to safe and healthy building conditions.

  • Support homeowners by providing tax relief programs and access to public funds for lead pipe replacements and other home improvements.

  • Expand access to housing and social services for residents experiencing homelessness by securing a dedicated source of funding for the programs.


Supporting Public Schools


Our neighborhood public schools have seen more investments during my first three years in office than they've seen in the last 30. At the community's request, I've brought the much-needed advocacy and attention our neighborhood schools needed and fulfilled my promise to make them a priority. Now I'd like the opportunity to continue that progress. Just in this first term, my advocacy has brought us the following:

  • $25M in capital investments for a full building renovation, including adding an elevator, at Sullivan High School 

  • Capital dollars for a new roof for Kilmer Elementary 

  • An International Baccalaureate (IB) program for Kilmer Elementary - our first special program in 30 years for Rogers Park

  • Making sure that all of our schools had the PPE they needed during the pandemic for staff and students

  • Working to secure the final $4M in funding needed to restore the pool at Sullivan High School so we can finally reopen this resource for our community

Second Term Goals
  • Restore the swimming pool at Sullivan High School in order to add more recreational and therapeutic program options for students and the broader community.

  • Increase student health and social development by supporting the expansion of athletic and extracurricular programming in our schools.

  • Make Rogers Park schools first choice schools for our families by continuing to advocate for programmatic and capital funds to improve them.

  • Increase attendance for neighborhood schools in our ward by promoting the excellent programs, teachers and staff that they have to offer our families.


Community Voice & Transparency


How you do anything is how you do everything. Our residents deserve transparency and accountability in government, and I promised to use processes and communication to provide it. Community voice is central to advocating for our ward and making decisions in my office. Some of the ways I’ve worked to elevate accountability and transparency for the 49th Ward include:

  • Continuing Participatory Budgeting for community engagement and decision-making around the annual aldermanic menu funds.

  • Implemented a community-based zoning process to get rid of “behind closed door” development decisions. 

  • Increased language access for our residents in monthly town halls and a weekly newsletter in English and Spanish with all the explanations and news from City Hall and the ward. 

  • Sponsored ethics reforms to raise the bar for standards and guidelines for City Council 

  • Actively working for a stronger legislative body that can operate independently of the mayor - the days of a rubber stamp City Council are over

  • I do not accept any campaign contributions from developers or nursing home operators; groups who have historically used their money to influence decisions in our ward for their private benefit

Second Term Goals
  • Work on transforming Chicago City Council into the independent legislative body we need to better address our biggest challenges by continuing to be an independent, progressive, and ethical leader.

  • Increase civic education for our residents and build trust in government through our participatory budgeting process.

  • Provide space for youth leadership development and youth voice by expanding the Youth Advisory Council I created in my first term.

  • Increase access to my office by expanding our communication and participation methods with more options for in-person and virtual activities and increased language access including Spanish and ASL interpretation whenever possible.


A Strong Local Economy


Our community is known for our variety of independent, local, and immigrant-run businesses, and the small businesses in the 49th Ward have not only survived but thrived. I'm proud to have supported our small businesses through one of the most difficult economic periods in our lifetime and filled vacant storefronts on our commercial corridors. Our local businesses and their owners are a key strength, and I'll continue to engage with these businesses to assess their needs and support their growth in any way possible. A few examples of my investment to strengthen our local economy:

  • Created new business promotion programs, Alderwoman’s Table and On the Map, to highlight local businesses every month.

  • Implemented a transparent process to bring community input to decision-making processes for licenses and permits. 

  • Provided weekly check-ins during the height of the pandemic, and later, monthly check-ins for small businesses during the pandemic shutdown to coordinate access to services and information for them and their employees.

  • Supported the expansion and extension of our Special Service Areas which support economic development and small business support on our commercial corridors.

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

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

Second Term Goals
  • Build a strong, local economy by continuing to support our small businesses in their growth and promotion.

  • Help businesses continue to recover from the pandemic by advocating for more public economic development resources.

  • Improve our commercial corridors by helping to fill vacant storefronts and attracting new businesses to the ward.

  • Help small businesses to grow by working with the City and County to bring new economic development tools like tax incentives to the ward.


Environmental Justice & Protection


While it wasn’t a priority issue that I ran on in 2019, environmental protection and climate action quickly became a core action area for me during this term. The combination of record-high lake levels and the strong storm season of 2019-2020 led to unprecedented lakeshore erosion in our lakefronts. With the continued loss of 1-2 feet of shoreline with each storm event, I led the city’s rapid response efforts securing one million dollars in funds for our ward to provide shoreline stabilization, protecting three of our parks, and helping to save housing along the shore. My efforts advocated for Chicago, too, ensuring the federal dollars funding a three-year study will produce long-term plans for the last 8 miles of unprotected shoreline, including the entirety of our ward.

I was the lead sponsor on the effort to have Chicago fully divest from fossil fuels and passed the ordinance to prevent us from reinvesting in them for the future. I’ve also been a lead advocate to reinstate a Dept. of Environment, which is sorely needed to ensure that our city can take meaningful climate action and be a leader in sustainability. Locally, I instituted a 49th Ward Climate Action Taskforce to research and evaluated the City’s Climate Action Plan and recommend what I should focus on implementing for our ward in 2023. My work on environmental issues earned me a 100% on the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC) City Council Scorecard, and was honored as their Community Champion in 2022.

Second Term Goals
  • Make Chicago a safe and healthy place to live and a leader in climate action by creating a new Department of Environment to implement our Climate Action Plan.

  • Restore and stabilize our shoreline with environmentally friendly solutions by ensuring our community voice is part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ recommendations during their 3-year study we got funded.

  • Make the 49th Ward an example for the city on climate action by working with our ward Climate Action Taskforce to implement recommendations from our 2022 community survey.

  • Green our ward by restoring our tree canopy from the tornado damage and working with Forestry to improve the health of our existing trees.

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