Winners unclear after CHA resident council vote

Results are still not available the day after public housing residents voted for new leadership at their developments.

Election results were supposed to be posted at each polling site yesterday evening, but a full list of winners could not be obtained from Chicago Housing Authority, the Central Advisory Council or Alexis Bivens, Ltd., the consulting company running the elections.

Robert Whitfield, attorney for the Central Advisory Council, said yesterday that preliminary results will be released in the next few days, but certified results won't be released until after April 6, according to Matt Aguilar, CHA spokesman.

As of 4 p.m. today, employees at Alexis Bivens were still counting and verifying votes, according to Sandra Bivens, president of Alexis Bivens Ltd. The preliminary results should be released tomorrow, says Bivens, and then candidates have until April 6 to challenge the results. 

A few results could be confirmed by phone. At Altgeld Gardens, Bernadette Williams was elected president, Barbara Lawrence as vice president, Deborah Hollins as secretary and Gayle Reed as treasurer, according to Reed. At Lathrop Homes, Robert Davidson beat incumbent president Juanita Stevenson, 50 to 36, according to Davidson. At all other family developments, results were not available by phone.

Many residents came out to vote for new leadership yesterday, expressing their expectations for whomever is elected.

Patricia McQueen has high hopes for the person elected to the local council at Cabrini-Green, her home.

"We need jobs. We need some after school programs, some tutoring programs - something to convince the kids here to stay in school," says McQueen. "I want the right person to carry the community onward."

Robert Davidson, the new president at Lathrop Homes, a public housing development on the city's North side, says he ran because he wants to work harder at keeping residents informed about their choices to move out or stay at Lathrop. 

"I have a lot of people telling me that it's time for change," says Davidson. "I thought I could step up and lead so that residents could make better choices for themselves and their families."

Natalie Saffold, current LAC president at LeClaire Courts, says she ran again because she wants to continue to protect the interests of public housing residents on the far West side.

"I am gonna stay here and fight this battle," says Saffold. "They promised me 300 units when LeClaire is done, and I am going to hold them to that."

Earlier this year, half of Saffold's development was closed and residents were relocated. She says she has been told that nothing will happen at LeClaire until 2014 and she appears determined to stay to preserve it as a place for low-income people to be able to live.

"I have three granddaughters. They might need public housing someday and I want it to be there for them," says Saffold.

The preservation of public housing was also on the mind of other residents.

Trumbull Park resident Henry Riggins says with new development in the area and the Olympics coming to town, he's worried that residents might get the boot.

"You might get building just redone being torn down just for space," says Riggins.

Riggins was also concerned that the tearing down buildings and moving people out might end up reducing the number of people in public housing and cutting out the need for local advisory councils altogether. He says communities need these kinds of "movers and shakers" that have the ear of public officials.

"It might just be that the movers and shaker will be all shook out," says Riggins.

Staff Writer Megan Cottrell covers public housing for the Daily News. She can be reached at 773-362-5002, ext. 12, or megan [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.

Discuss

KELLIE O'CONNELL-MILLER, 04-01-2009

To the Editor,

Having explained to Megan Cottrell that the Central Advisory Council (CAC) elections are run by the CAC - an independent body - and not by CHA, we were disappointed to read the Chi-Town Daily News headline, “CHA refuses to release election results,” that appeared on your website Wednesday. CHA had neither the ability nor the right to disclose election results.

As was clearly explained to Ms. Cottrell, CHA does not have jurisdiction over this election. Therefore, all questions regarding this election should be directed to the CAC.

CHA, like the public, awaits the certified election results from the firm that was hired by the CAC to run the election. When we receive those results, CHA will be glad to provide them to you.

Sincerely,

Kellie O’Connell-Miller
Interim Director - Research, Reporting and Communications
Chicago Housing Authority

GEOFF DOUGHERTY, 04-03-2009

Kellie,

Of course, we understand that the election is run by the CAC. However, that doesn't eliminate the CHA's responsibility to provide access to public information in its possession. Election results are, the last time I checked, public information.