I went to last night’s 49th Ward aldermanic debate between Joe Moore and Maria Hadden. I guess I was expecting it to be a little dull and rambling, like most other political events in the ward (where every well-meaning old white person has to stand up and give their bona fides about how “I met Dr. King once and so I know . . . .” before asking a nine-part question). Instead, it was an efficient debate between two starkly different Democrats, expertly moderated by a League of Women Voters member (and former high school German teacher) who knew her stuff and was up for no shenanigans, and well attended by an engaged audience of neighbors who behaved themselves. The questions, thankfully, were submitted on index cards.
The gist: Moore acted like he just deserved to be reelected. He said three separate times that he could just retire and take his pension and get a big-money private sector job, but he just loves the ward so much. His big issues were school choice and more cops, which he brought up every chance he could. He stammered frequently and seemed generally unprepared and tone deaf.
Hadden, on the other hand, was polished and direct. She had facts and stats in her arsenal and creative answers to questions about how to end poverty in the ward, keep housing affordable, and fund schools equitably. She came out against the new cop academy and the Lincoln Yards TIF (which she called “Parking Meters 2.0” for the speed and lack of transparency with which it’s being shoved through City Council before Rahm Emanuel leaves office), and actually mentioned people of color and people with disabilities as being important constituents in the ward whose concerns should be considered (imagine that!).
The final question came from a 4th grader who wanted to know how the alderman would make CPS school lunches better. It was a cute question, but Hadden took it seriously and pointed out that what was keeping schools from having healthier food and vegetarian options was the city’s contract with Aramark. Moore, weirdly, boasted about how he was able to get the schools to offer breakfast, too (“You know that shitty food you hate, kids? I got you more of it! You’re welcome”).