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Alderwoman Phyllis Young on Board Shrinkage: I May Never Pass Another Bill Again!

Categories: Politics
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Alderwoman Phyllis Young of the Seventh Ward
Alderwoman Phyllis Young of the Seventh Ward was the one who really pushed to allow city voters to decide whether to shrink the city's governing board from 28 to 14 members by 2022. Not all of her colleagues liked her idea, but she did it anyway.

The measure did pass on election day -- leaving her "pleasantly surprised," she says. Daily RFT wanted to know: How is this all going to work? We caught up with her yesterday by phone.

Daily RFT: How will the transition unfold in concrete terms? 

Phyllis Young: Well, I figure we have ten years to figure it out. I think the most action will have to take place after the next federal census, when redistricting boundaries will drawn up.

Frankly, I won't be here in ten years. But the people on the board at that time will have to determine how they want boundaries to be redrawn. They'll have to comply federal guidelines and have to determine who will be pitted against who.

Usually those types of things are done by a legislative committee.

Do you think that city personnel will have to increase in order to pick up the slack for the aldermen?

I don't think so. Right now, every ward has a neighborhood stabilization officer who drives the neighborhood, puts in complaints (in addition to others put in by citizens) and basically takes the pulse of the neighborhood. We've got 28 of them now. So if you've got fewer aldermen, you might just get more NSOs.
 
Over years, the city departments  have become more efficient on dealing with problems, through the Citizens' Service Bureau.

I think we're likely to see even more efficient government in the next ten years even without the board reduction, with the technology that's available.

Like what? Do you have any concrete examples from other cities that you'd like to see implemented here?

Well, Aldermen Shane Cohn and Scott Ogilvie are young, they know more about technology than I do. But the system we have is so outdated in terms of IT, and it's a huge expense to upgrade. So to take on something that we see in another city is virtually impossible with system we have. There's got to be an expenditure on IT stuff.

Well, your measure passed. How do you feel?

I'm very excited. The question is whether I'll ever get a board bill passed again by people who were not excited!

But I think the voters were very wise. It'll be interesting to watch how it functions.

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