My name is Ronda Pilon, and my husband Bob and I are 25-year residents of the 47th Ward. We bought our Victorian home on the 1900 block of West Belle Plaine in 1993. We have deeply appreciated the diversity and energy of the 47th Ward. There have been a lot of changes: from the arrival of Lillstreet and The Old Town School, to the creation of local microbreweries. The influx of new families and their investment in our schools continues to make this an exceptional place to live.
You may be aware that our current alderman, Ameya Pawar, is stepping down and nine candidates are running to replace him. I write this letter in support of Matt Martin for that position. The election on February 26 is an opportunity for each of us to express our goals not only for the 47th Ward but, equally importantly, for the entire city of Chicago.
Like most of his campaign volunteers, I met Matt when he knocked on my door one afternoon and asked about any issues that concerned me. I had received a 77% property tax increase in the 2018 assessment and was going through the appeals process. I found Matt to be a patient and empathetic listener who expressed concern about the effect of the steep tax increases on longtime residents like myself. I appreciated his well-reasoned responses and his detailed understanding of the Cook County Assessment tax algorithm and the assessment process. He had already identified the need for our city and county to look at alternative long-term, budget-solvent solutions to generating revenue. His approach reflected a pragmatism that I seek in a leader.
Matt has demonstrated his commitment to our ward, through sitting on the McPherson Local School Council, working on Alderman Pawar’s Zoning Advisory Council and co-founding the Heart of Lincoln Square Neighborhood Association. His activism has been deeply personal and reflects his concern for all constituents. He supports local development that is community-driven and that listens to the input of the 47th Ward residents. As alderman, he knows that will require an independence not influenced by the mayor, political machines or moneyed interests.
Our property tax designates 56% to fund the Chicago Public Schools, yet the CPS schools in our ward are chronically underfunded – by $1 million each. Parents are pressured to fundraise for the most basic equipment like textbooks and technology, and to maintain reasonable class sizes. Matt is dedicated to finding stable sources of revenue, while reducing our reliance on regressive revenue like property taxes, to ensure that Chicago provides a quality education that all children deserve.
Chicago spends $100 million every year to settle police misconduct suits. Can we eliminate the causes of misconduct, and spend these resources more productively? As a civil rights attorney working at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office Matt played a key role in writing the consent decree, which outlines future accountability and training requirements for our police force. He will go to the City Council with the knowledge of this complex issue that affects the whole city.
This is a vitally important race, and every vote for an independent voice will be significant. I have been out canvassing, and have appreciated meeting many of you. I hope you’ll join me in considering this ethical, skilled, and energetic leader to fight for the respect of each individual’s rights, well-funded schools, and an affordable city for all.
If you have questions about Matt, please feel free to reach out at matt47.com or reach me at 773-209-7551. I hope Matt will earn your vote.