Rep. Rob Martwick (D-Chicago) lashed out recently at those who deemed his silence on the proposed Chicago House Authority construction project at 5150 N. Northwest Highway as a dereliction of duty.
“I haven’t taken a public stance on a zoning issue in over five years,” he told the Chicago City Wire. “I decided back then with me not being an alderman, it isn’t fair for me to influence the process. My stand is a principled one, and I’d rather lose an election than sacrifice on that. All those now attacking me over it are doing so for political purposes.”
Ammie Kessem has declared plans to take on Martwick in the 19th District next year, and part of her early platform has centered on criticizing him for being reticent about the 5150 plan, which calls for 30 CHA, 20 market-rate and 50 affordable units.
Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago)
“His constituents deserve to have a state representative who stands up for them,” she said. “Robert Martwick has continually ignored those pleas for help. It is clear that his reluctance is based on his personal relationships with those that are in favor of this building.”
While Kessem pointed to the nearly 6,000 petition signatures from area residents in opposition to the plan as reason enough to stand against it, Martwick said she was out of bounds.
“This is the nature of silly politics, and she is trying to make name for herself,” he said. “I will let Alderman (John) Arena make the tough decision, since he is the one whose constituents will be most affected. People have said to me, ‘Since she’s dragging you in, you have to take a stance.’ I still say no, and just because this issue is more controversial than others, that won’t change.”
Arena has vowed to end any vestiges of segregation in his 45th Ward by the year 2020.
For his part, Martwick said he doesn't have the right to push his own agenda and neither does Kessem.
“This is the political atmosphere that we’re living in, and she’s willing to go to these measures to tie me to this project because she can’t run against the alderman,” he said. “I think it’s important that we allow the process to play itself out under the rules that we have in place.”