CHICAGO (CBS)– The campaigns are over and the hard work begins for Chicago’s new aldermen.
In the 40th Ward, Andre Vasquez defeated long time Alderman Pat O’Connor.
The “Modern Cleaners” sign is still up, but, despite the appearance of the office the, new alderman and his staff are busy inside.
Vasquez has to quickly learn how to get things done for his North Side constituents.
Paul Drugan has lived in Boston, LA, Washington and Chicago. He said “Chicago is by far the most livable city.”
But, on his block in the 40th Ward, he said rats are a persistent problem that he would like the city to conquer.
“It’s just a problem that doesn’t go away,” Drugan said. “It’s gotten a lot worse.”
CBS 2 gave Vasquez the address where the problem is persistent. He responded, “Got it.”
Vasquez can talk at length about urban economics and public policy. But ultimately, he’ll be judged on how well he delivers basic city services.
“A lot of it today has been exceptions to permit parking where they get their city stickers, block party permits, puddles outside the street,” Ald. Vasquez said.
Crime reduction, potholes, garbage collection, snow removal and rats are among the other issues.
Vasquez and his staff have been to meetings with city department heads, learned how to access information from the 311 system and received tutoring from veteran city council members.
Vasquez said he’ll rely on his costumer service experience he brings to the job.
“I worked over 20 years in retail,” he said. “When you have those storefronts, that’s people coming in with issues and complaints that you have to resolve.”
Drugan hopes for his new alderman to be transparent.
“Public information and the ability for the alderman to get to the general public,” he said. “His job, it’s going to be to incorporate more people into the process.”
Vasquez said agreed.
“Absolutely, part of what we were running on was having a more democratic process to have our neighbors included in decision making.”
As for his relationship with the new mayor, Vasquez philosophically supports Lori Lightfoot’s efforts to limit aldermanic privilege.