By Delores McCain of the Austin Weekly News
Ald. Deborah Graham of the 29th Ward officially opened her new Austin office to the community last weekend.
Speaking to a crowd that included fellow elected officials, Graham kicked things off by addressing her guests from atop a table at her office at 5755 W. Division St.
“I am overwhelmed at the turnout. I’m so pleased that the weather didn’t keep you at home,” she said.
Some of the dozens of attendees expressed their hopes for their new alderman.
“She seems like a nice person, and I hope she will do good,” said resident Sandra Horne, who mentioned the alderman’s predecessor Isaac Carothers. Carothers resigned in February after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. Mayor Daley appointed Graham, who had been representing District 78 in the Illinois House.
“The last alderman, I never seen him or heard from him,” Horne said. “He didn’t do anything, even with the turkeys. I’m hopeful with our new alderman, and look forward to see what changes will occur.”
Resident Sallie Verne expressed cautious optimism: “I really don’t know, but I believe she will be better.”
Pastor Rickey Sanders said he expects great things from Graham.
“She has been a great state rep, and now that she is going to be the alderman I think she is going to do a wonderful job. Clean up the community, get involved with the community; she has always been a people person,” he said.
Cook County Board Commissioner Earlean Collins (1st) added, “I expect her to keep doing what she doing. Being an alderman, there are a lot of different issues, and she is going to work on those issues. They are all for the good of the community, and I don’t expect anything different.”
Barbara McGowan, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District commissioner, and Ade Onayemi, an Austin businessman and civic leader, said they believe Graham will do a good job.
Graham told the crowd, “We are here to serve. We have an open-door policy. If you would like to schedule any time with me you are more than welcome … I’m here to serve you, and I am committed to be your voice.”