Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Meet Alderman Rey Colon...

In the latest Meet the Aldermen column (may need to register to read) from the Tribune's Rick Kogan, we meet Ald. Colon who represents the 35th ward. It's mostly latino now but when Colon's family moved there it was still "Old World European". Basically he ran against the incumbent Ald. Vilma Colom when she turned down a request to build a basketball court.

He first ran in 1999 getting only 40% of the vote but beat the incumbent in 2003 61 to 39 percent. He claims himself as a challenged alderman because the community he represents is a changing community were so many people want to have their say. Also when he first got to the city council he had this image of a corrupt city council...

"I had this negative image that everybody in the City Council was corrupt, on the take. But that's just not the case," he (Ald. Colon) says. "That's one of the biggest surprises for me."
So then we see a personal history of his life. He made a change when his brother fell victim to a drive by shooting. He graduated from Schurz High School, studied broadcasting at Columbia College Chicago, then completed a program in community management at Roosevelt University.

Then we get into how the Alderman got into politics. He worked for the Boys and Girls Club and then he worked for the Chicago Park District. While at the Park District, he was engaged in the dispute over a basketball court...

"When the alderman [Vilma Colom] turned down the request to build the court, some of the people who had wanted it convinced me to run against her," he says.
Oh yeah he suffered for his political activity. He was let go from his Park District position and it appeared to him that it was payback for his run against Colom...

" 'Your services are no longer needed,' is the way they put it," he says.

This was the lesson learned from his 1999 campaign...

"I realized that I might have won had I prepared better, started earlier, known more and had more political experience," he says.

He then became an executive director at the YMCA and spearheaded the $7.5 million construction of the McCormick Tribune YMCA in his neighborhood. Then in 2003 he made a successful second run against Ald. Colom.

Concerns in his neighborhood has been crime, gang activity, as well as battles between affordable housing advocates, preservationists and developers. And here's one last thing from Ald. Colon who says he plans to run for re-election next year...

"In three years, property values here have gone up 100 percent," he says.
35th Ward Alderman his Ald. Colon's official website
Ald. Colon's city council page.

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