Most people struggle with time management, but aldermanic candidate Michael Carroll is facing an uphill battle.
Carroll is a full-time officer in the Chicago Police Department‘s special investigations unit. He is also running for alderman in the 46th Ward on Chicago’s North Side. Meanwhile, he volunteers at a food pantry in his Uptown neighborhood, teaches rowing to children during the summers on Lake Michigan and ministers at his church. In his spare time, he and his fiance are planning their May wedding.
Yet Carroll is undaunted by his busy schedule and wants to meet with as many constituents as he can in his run for the 46th Ward position.
“I am running because of the issues mainly, but I’m running also because I love my community,” Carroll said. “For me, it’s about serving my community.”
Speaking to a group of journalism students from Columbia College earlier this month in his Uptown headquarters, Carroll, 32, talked about an issue that is near and dear to his heart: crime. He works in a specialized anti-violence unit for the CPD, and said he is ready to tackle that problem in the 46th Ward.
Carroll said the ward’s current alderman, Helen Shiller, hasn’t made crime her top priority. “I think that the alderman currently has not focused on crime at all,” he said. “She has been quoted as saying, ‘Crime isn’t my issue. My issues are other issues.’” Carroll called that a “travesty.”
Shiller has announced she is not running for re-election. Carroll is one of 12 candidates seeking the office. The 46th Ward includes Uptown, Buena Park, Little Vietnam and other North Side neighborhoods.
Carroll said he is the kind of guy who likes to tackle new issues. “If there is a thing that you bring up to me, a new topic, that I’ve never heard about, I as the alderman should say, ‘Tell me more about that issue.’”
Crime isn’t the only issue Carroll is passionate about; he wants to get wheelchair accessible entrances for all El stops within his ward. He also wants to bring people to the 46th Ward by encouraging business owners to open new stores and restaurants, which would create more jobs.
“These are all places where people can do business,” he said, pointing to the empty storefronts surrounding his campaign office. “Why aren’t they doing business here?” Carroll asked. He said many people have told him they will not open new businesses in Uptown because they worry about crime.
Carroll has personal experience with the problem in his own neighborhood: Rocks were thrown at the windows in his campaign office last week, according to ABC7 News. Although they did not crack the vandalism-proof film on his windows, they did scratch his campaign logos, the station reported.
“As a police officer, I’ve been kicked, punched, shot at and crashed into, and I come back every day and serve my community,” Carroll told ABC, adding that a brick in a window is not going to deter him from running.
“I think that with all the issues, I have the best approach and best ideas, and know how to use those ideas and actually make them work on the actual ground,” Carroll said. “I think I’m the best candidate, most qualified, because of my background, because of my cultural experiences.”
He has volunteered with the Peace Corps in Africa and has done AIDS hospice work in Thailand. Carroll also worked with homeless street children in Haiti.
In addition to his volunteer work at the food pantry, Carroll says he ministers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and teaches rowing in the summers on Lake Michigan. He entered the race a year ago.
The city-wide aldermanic election will be held Feb. 22.