Curious about the 25th Ward elections I contacted all three candiates for a La Princesa de Pilsen exclusive.
Only one found the voice of a Pilsen based female photographer and blogger worth his time.
I sat at Jumping Bean waiting for Mr Morfin and could see him from across the street before he could see me.He had stopped outside and was chatting with one of my favorite Pilsen artists Maestro Pena . I watched him from a distance, Morfin deeply engaged in conversation with the master painter. Even from across the street I could see that Morfin carried with him a warmth that is common in the hearts of the people in this neighborhood.
Morfin continued his conversation, pointed across the street. Oh yeah, he had to meet someone. Me. Although I was the person techinically waiting for him I appreciated how geniune and not rushed his conversation was. Maestro Pena has lived/worked in Pilsen, probably longer than I have been alive. Temoc' seemed to have his priorities in order.
I think I defintely went into this interview inexperienced and with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, deep deep down inside. I mean who is this guy? What in the hell is he going to do for Pilsen? As a resident of Pilsen for just the past 6 years I have fallen into a love affair with this neighborhood. love Pilsen not only for the murals and the history, but for the smell of the tortillerias and sounds of the block parties, from it's hustle mentality to its neighborly feel. This may be Chicago but I "rep my hood."
This is a beautiful community, but like all love affairs ther is pain that Pilsen has left in my heart. I have seen children gunned down in the streets, cars have exploded behind my apartment building and I have heard more guhshots than I can count.
Not to mention the stench of the alleys in the summer time or if I stay out too late too far from home I have to take a taxi home due to limited CTA access.
But I stay here, because the benefits are just too sweet, and it's full of geniune hardworking people. And frankly those are the only kind of folks I'd like to be around period. So I went into this interview thinking "Who is this new guy Morfin, and what is he gonna do?"
Q: If elected as Alderman of the 25th Ward what would you do to stop the violence in our community
A: "I am a huge advocate for more after-school programs. Did you know that Pilsen has a community center complete with a bowling alley basketball
courts and everything? But it has been closed for 12 years. Our young people need a place to go. They need something to do. If elected Alderman I will work to get these centers open for our young people. We have many hardworking artists in the neighborhood as well that can have jobs teaching the youth and sharing their skills."
Q: What do you plan to do about Fisk if you are elected?
A: "They either need to get up to code or get out. It's as simple as that. We have some of the worst air in the country right here in Pilsen and it's killing people."
Q: What are some points that you agree with Alderman Solis on, what are some points that you two disagree?
A: "I can't really say that I agree with the guy on much. He has been in office for a long time and hasn't gotten very much done. It's time for a change."
Q:We have a serious problem with trash removal in Pilsen. We need cleaner streets. Will you do something about that if elected?
A: "Absolutely. And I plan to start a recycling program in the neighborhood as well."
Q:What about transportation? We need better CTA service in Pilsen. People need to be able get to and from work.
A: "That is something I definitely plan on working on. I know how it is to own a small business in Pilsen, I used to own a work out gym. It can be difficult to get aroundwhen it gets late. We have students and working people that need to be able to get home safe."
Morfin is originallly from Mexico but grew up in the states and has been in Pilsen for 30 years. He graduated from Benito Juarez and is the former vice president of Local School Council there. He is the founder of Community in Action, an organization focused on cleaning up the environment. He is a part-time construcation workerand immigration rights activist. He has a son and says he is not leaving Pilsen. "What will you do if you don't win this time?" I asked him "Run again. I am here to stay" replied Morfin.