Stephen Niketopoulos

Personal Statement

As an educational TV producer, local school representative and neighborhood president I work with neighbors and businesses to make sure their ideas and concerns are heard. I’m a natural problem solver, and have been put to the test time and time again.

My volunteer work has facilitated greater cooperation in twelve different neighborhoods, connecting local government, law enforcement and nonprofit organizations, leading to hundreds of successfully resolved issues. I know how important it is to focus, stay patient and hear all sides of the discussion.

The approach is simple: create open, unintimidating channels of dialogue between local government and neighbors and business leaders. It has even inspired other neighbors to get involved and start their own community-focused projects.

I’m dedicated to making sure voters in this oddly shaped (and undemocratically designed) ward feel like they are well informed, involved and encouraged to participate. I have a history of hosting in person meetings and forums, and plan on sending out a printed home-delivered newsletter once in office. I find a well educated community stays the most involved in it’s improvements.

I believe good communication is key in breaking down misconceptions and reaffirming common goals. Strong relationships, clear communication, and cooperative action between neighbors, businesses, and government. This is my vision for a vibrant 2nd Ward.

I do the work myself, just like this writeup. It was not done by a staff member or paid consultant. On February 24th, please consider that when voting for your new Alderman.


Biographical Summary

Party Enrolled In: Non-Partisan
Occupation: Media, Education Television Producer
Education: Bachelor’s of Science (Anthropology), Loyola University Chicago
Organizational Affiliations: Local School Council, Columbus Elementary
President, Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association
Prior Public Experience: President, Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association.
Founder, Stay Safe of Illinois
Volunteer coordinator, Open House Chicago
Volunteer coordinator, 2nd Ward Clean and Green
Founder, Various community discussion forums

On the Issues

City remapping

We need oversight and accountability. My main concern is that the new ward map will be confusing and frustrating for those living in it. It was done to inflict political retribution, not to reflect the neighborhoods or community. As a proponent of community education I plan on making the new 2 the best Ward to live in for discussion, planned improvements and participatory ward budgeting. I will also fight for more oversight for future mapping.

City Services/Infrastructure

Garbage, Potholes, Construction, Rats, Traffic… We all know a lot of issues come to the ward office every year. Tens of thousands of reports have been made in 2014 alone. But that’s what the Ward office is there for, and I want to make it easy to work with me and my staff. I will make sure each neighborhood is equally represented, with accountable city services for each block and full funding from our city.

Corruption

There needs to be a cultural shift in the city council. The rubber stamping needs to stop. Those in power tend not to encourage oversight or independent investigations. I will hold myself accountable for my actions and be the most transparent Alderman in the city. I will fight against corruption and help hold others accountable. Regarding my campaign, I have direct support from other progressive aldermen who have started the work on fighting city corruption.

Crime/Safety

The simple point here is that we need more police on the streets. By not hiring, and closing down the police stations, deployment problems are consistent and alarming. I have built a network of 10,000 neighbors working together on safety and crime awareness to assist our police officers, who are overworked with badly budgeted overtime. I will work to hire more officers and make sure they have the equipment needed for the job.

Development and Jobs

I will make sure the Finkl/Lakin/Guttman redevelopment stays mostly industrial, which would allow for new development centers or assembly work to come to the area. This would definitely increase the amount of jobs, but also redefine traffic routes for cars and bikes. Along Elston avenue as well, I will make sure cars and pedestrians can easily get in and out of the area. This would in turn draw more business to the Ward.

Fiscal responsibility

We need to tighten the ship, including a hard look at city spending, TIF reform and budget restructuring. I will look at new ways of paying off our school, pension and bond debt. The alarming rate at which we put off major reforms in our city spending is frightening. Right now working families are paying more for less. I think we need to look at city reform before adding taxes. Chicagoans are taxed enough.

Historical preservation

Both homeowner education and neighborhood preservation are very important to me. I have worked with neighbors on the redevelopment plans for St. John’s Church and also volunteered with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Development concerns and the materials being used continue to plague various communities, but those living in a landmarked area also need to have more assistance in getting the permits needed to keep their homes from disrepair. I already am a resource for this.

Reducing Gun Violence

For a community to reduce gun violence neighbors need to coordinate efforts. If you have enough eyes and ears you can identify trouble houses and assist the police in knowing where to look. It takes an accessible and trusted line of communication for people to discuss and identify problems without fearing retribution. Public meetings are a start, but social media integration needs to happen for CPD to make bigger strides in this kind of reporting.

Schools

I’m on the LSC for Columbus Elementary, and I’ve learned many things that need to be done. We can start by creating more support programs for schools, ones which can provide access to resources for students and provide opportunities for growth and self reliance. Parents need to play a bigger role as well. I am concerned about the over-testing of students, classroom sizes being too large, and pressures on our teachers imposed by standardized testing.

Transportation/Transit Issues

I ride my bicycle every week. Mostly I walk and I drive a car in the winter. I see the Ward from every perspective, and I see how congested it gets. My main focus will be to alleviate that. I think there are opportunities for this along the bridges (Cortland, Webster, North) with redevelopment and new CDOT traffic light studies. I will encourage more CTA options, and more citywide safety education for drivers and bike riders.

Ward office communication

The 2nd Ward is now drawn between so many different areas that, in my opinion, communication is going to be key to make it run efficiently. I make that promise, that each neighborhood will see me and have the chance to work with me and my well managed staff. You will see online and printed home-delivered newsletters, along with new community meetings and social media updates. I pledge to be an accessible, full-time Alderman.

Stephen Niketopoulos was last modified: January 12th, 2015 by runclean

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