Maggie O’Keefe is working to build a unified and sustainable 40th Ward.
Like many Americans, the 2016 election was a call-to-action for Maggie. Low voter turnouts in marginalized communities motivated her to become a deputy voter registrar. By the end of 2017, Maggie deputized over 500 voters in Cook County, organized voter drives at over three dozen high schools, street festivals and events, and together they registered thousands of new voters in the Chicagoland area – all in one year.
Voters hold the real power and Chicago needs our help. We face financial peril and problems that no one person can fix (no matter how much they might promise otherwise). A true sustainable community is empowered by active neighbor engagement. This is why Maggie is running to be your public servant - to work with you and serve as your voice.
As a small business owner, she knows what it takes to tackle problems and achieve resolutions: work with others, listen to all perspectives, and follow through to produce results. And that’s what she believes the 40th Ward needs: a leader who truly listens and responds to her fellow neighbors. Together, we can make sure our leaders no longer silence neighbors in order to protect a status quo that enriches the few.
Maggie moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College Chicago in 2007. When she’s not working for small businesses, progressive candidates, or organizing voter events, she can be seen around Chicago performing as the front woman in a band and training for the Chicago Sprint Triathlon. She lives with her better half, Adam, in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.
Stances / Issues
Working Together to Grow the 40th Ward
The 40th Ward is defined by our great neighborhoods - eleven unique communities across nine square miles on Chicago’s North Side. But our ward is being overlooked by people and families looking to establish and maintain roots due to lack of new businesses, entertainment options, and stable housing opportunities. Together, we can build a more sustainable community, one that we are proud to live in and proud to share.
Working with residents, we created a 40th Ward Community Roadmap to better address our neighborhoods’ needs. As a start, this roadmap will work to:
Expand small business development through community zoning and licensing reform to give residents an opportunity to be a part of the growth process
Establish 40th Ward participatory budgeting and provide community members their rightful place in the decision-making process
Immediately determine high-risk infrastructure repairs that impact residents’ lives each day
Attract new affordable and transit-oriented developments to create density in our shopping districts and main transportation arteries
Close the loopholes in the Affordable Requirements Ordinance, which requires that new developments provide 10 percent of units at affordable prices
Building a Community Safety Network
Cohesive communities are safe communities. Our local government and representatives are not providing the resources to truly keep our neighborhoods connected, healthy, and safe. Our proposed 40th Ward Community Safety Network will be driven by neighbors and backed with resources, attention, and energy from our alderman’s office. We plan to:
Create new Online Block Clubs to:
Report safety issues and infrastructure needs within our communities (including broken streetlights & tree trims)
Recruit block club captains who can provide reports to the 40th Ward office and interact on-the-ground with neighbors
Track progress and resolutions for residents to proactively address issues before they become problems
Establish new and transparent 40th Ward communication channels and spaces to:
Hold regular community-led events, town halls, and ward nights for neighbors to meet with their alderman, police commanders, and service-providers
Connect small business owners together to tackle common crime problems
Develop regular public safety bulletins and crime trend reports
Ensuring Equitable Funding In Our Public Schools
Our local public schools have been improving and seeing record enrollments thanks to the hard work of parents and students in the ward. But increasing property taxes and rising housing costs threaten this progress. Too often, families are pitted against other families in a fight for resources. And well-connected education providers get their projects greenlit by City Hall to make record profits rather than invest in neighborhoods.
Our current way of funding public education is unfair and unsustainable. Each child in Chicago Public Schools deserves equitable funding, no matter where they live. As your alderman, I would:
Suspend the creation of new charter schools or magnet schools in the 40th Ward
Expand Universal Pre-K and Kindergarten access to provide high quality, full-day school days to families and educators
Seek grants and partner with local nonprofits to boost after-school programming and safe havens for students
Establish an elected Chicago Public Schools board to truly represent the needs of parents and children
Establishing a Sustainable Environment
The 40th Ward is home to stunning natural resources: parks, green spaces and rivers that blend beauty into our urban environment. But currently, our leaders are only providing quick fixes instead of supporting real future-focused solutions, ones that support the environment and city-living maintenance. We need to invest in new ideas and reform programs that come up short. As an alderman, I would:
Support block-by-block initiatives including permeable alleys, green roofs, and clean water conservation
Build a coalition of aldermen and nonprofit organizations to reform the recycling program, where only 10% of materials actually get recycled
Minimizing waste through composting and provide access to energy-saving programs
Reinforce the good work from existing park advisory councils to protect public green spaces
Create new recreation centers and jobs across the Chicago River, including boat rentals, tours, and more