It’s not often that candidates running for the position of Chicago Alderman need the vote of only one person to be victorious. But that’s the case this year in the city’s south side 7th Ward. With the resignation of City Councilwoman Sandi Jackson, it’s up to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to appoint a replacement. One local resident, Lionell Martin, has officially submitted his application for the job.
If first you don’t succeed
The name Lionell Martin may sound familiar to readers of this column. We covered Mr. Martin two years ago when he ran for election to the Chicago City Council against one of the most powerful Alderwomen in the city – Ald. Sandi Jackson. At the time, Jackson was living in Washington DC, completely out of touch with her constituents back home. The 7th Ward was experiencing spikes in crime, vandalism, unemployment and a basic lack of responsiveness and representation from its elected officials – most notably former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandi.
Both elected officials representing this area have since resigned, tainted by criminal investigations and rumors of a plea bargain. But resident Lionell Martin isn’t surprised. He campaigned hard on some of those very same issues and criticisms in 2011. Seemingly vindicated, Martin has set his sights once again on representing the residents of the 7th Ward.
Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the members of his ‘7th Ward Candidate Screening Committee’. These are the five men and women who will evaluate all the candidates applying for the Aldermanic appointment, narrowing the list down to a minimum of three credible and capable applicants. Applications had been due on Friday, but City Hall extended the deadline to end-of-day Monday due to problems with the city’s website.
“The five men and women who are serving on this committee have an important obligation to the 7th Ward and the entire city of Chicago,” Emanuel said, “I am confident they will take their duty seriously and present me with strong choices for this important position. This method for selection will ensure that the best possible candidate is selected for the residents of the 7th Ward.”
With three days before the end of the extended deadline, the Mayor’s office said it had received 42 applications from 7th Ward residents interested in being appointed Alderman. One of those applicants is Lionell Martin.
Lionell Martin background
Aldermanic hopeful Lionell Martin may not be out ringing doorbells, campaigning for the votes of the 7th Ward’s residents this time. Instead, he’s doing one better. Martin is amassing testimonials from the Ward’s business owners and longtime area residents endorsing his effort to be the next Alderman. Coupled with his impressive professional resume, the affidavits create one respectable and eye-catching job application.
“I support Lionell because he is a principled leader who would serve the residents of the Ward with credibility, integrity and sound judgment,” the owner of Midwest Local Hardware on E. 79th wrote. “Martin brings a lifetime of community involvement, as well as the credibility and experience to carry out the responsibilities of the office,” another 40-year 7th Ward resident writes, “Lionell Martin would bring a military discipline and code of honor capable of standing up to the corruption that has plagued this south shore community for decades.”
Martin doesn’t wear his military service on his sleeve. Like most veterans, he has that strong, silent quality. But Lionell Martin is in fact a veteran of the US Navy, where he credits his service with instilling in him, “the values of both effective leadership and strict discipline.”
A graduate from local Senn High School in 1989, as well as Southern Illinois University immediately after, Martin has spent much of the past two decades being involved in the upkeep and service of his community. He worked for the city’s Park District as a Regional Area Manager. And most recently, he was employed with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications where he worked on a federal program for the Dept. of Homeland Security where he served as Chairman of the Catastrophic Planning Team for the City of Chicago.
Lionell Martin for 7th Ward Alderman
Of the 42 applicants for appointment as 7th Ward Alderman, Lionell Martin stands as a prime candidate and potential finalist for consideration for the job. He showed his dedication, sincerity and foresight when he challenged the now-resigned Alderman two years ago while most in the Ward were afraid to stand up to the powerful Jackson political dynasty. He’s shown he’s an independent voice pledged to represent the people, not a political family, a political patron or a political machine.
The words this column wrote about Lionell Martin two years ago still hold true. ‘A loving and dedicated father and a parishioner at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Martin demonstrates both the soft, gentle side of a family man who isn’t above the day-to-day struggles and dreams of the everyday resident, balanced with the toughness and intelligence of a proud military veteran. He serves his country. He serves his family. And now he’d like to serve the 7th Ward.’
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