By: Jules Galway (Loyola Sophomore), Maddie Ally (Loyola Senior), Julia Soeder (Loyola Freshman)
EDGEWATER – In Chicago’s 48th Ward, residents are eagerly awaiting the successor of Alderman Harry Osterman.
The 48th Ward consists of parts of Edgewater, Andersonville, and Uptown and makes up one of 50 legislative districts in Chicago that elect an Alderman every four years and these 50 representatives make up the Chicago City Council. This year, ten candidates aim to fill this position.
Brian Haag, a man with no previous political experience, separates himself from the other 48th Ward candidates with his focus on public safety, the last four miles project, and support for small businesses. Haag, 60, brings a new perspective to the table as Founder and CEO of Green Element Resale, a local small business located in Edgewater.
As an Edgewater native, Haag uses his own first hand experiences to identify problems he is hoping to fix for his community. Haag’s passion for bike riding led him to want to fight for more local parks and space for bicyclists within the 48th Ward. As a small business owner himself, Haag is constantly looking for ways to bolster the local economy.
A visit to Haag’s website will give a clear picture of what kind of candidate he is – quirky, environmentally conscious and an integral part of the community. His webpage focuses on two main fields: Haag’s story and his stance on issues affecting the 48th Ward.
In an interview with Loyola Journalism students, Brian Haag spoke about his concerns and plans for the 48th Ward.
*Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
RogersEdge Reporter: You’ve mentioned being interested in expanding parks towards the lake. Are there specific parks or regions that you would want to expand into on the lakefront?
Haag: Yeah, what it’s called is The Last Four Miles. And if you go to Friends of the Parks, they’ll have a whole segment on it on their website. And what it connects is the lakefront parks all the way through, and it was the original Burnham Plan [A plan developed in 1909 that advocated for urban development through environmental focus, local park improvement, and improving railways].
There’s two miles here on the north and two miles on the south where [the parks are] not connected, so it would be great to get it connected because then we could have bike lanes or a bike path to connect Northwestern and Loyola to downtown. The bike path would be connected on the whole lakefront as well.
RER: I see that on your website you’re a huge proponent in the neighborhood for composting and sustainability. Do you have any plans for providing any green legislation in Rogers Park communities and Edgewater? And if so, what are those plans?
Haag: Well, [The Last Four Miles] would be one for sure. There’s also a lot of big brownfields on the south and the west side where there are old industrial sites, manufacturing, those could be converted to urban agriculture. I’m a big advocate for parkways and parklands for pollinators and the more we can get those parks into all these [empty] spaces the better biodiversity Chicago has.
RER: Speaking of green implementations in daily life, how important are thrift and resale shops in helping this environmental issue that’s going on, not only in Chicago, but the entire world?
Haag: Absolutely. Fast fashion is just really, really a problem. All the way around it’s a problem environmentally, it’s a problem for sweatshops, and, and it’s just not even high quality stuff that’s going to last, and environmentally [buying resale] is just one of the best things you can do with your daily life. As well as the whole range of everything else like buying organic food and recycling whatever you can.
RER: You mentioned on your website you plan on implementing more tutoring programs and public schools to help education recovery. Could you expand on that idea?
Haag: Public schools did Zoom [during COVID-19], which was a disaster for most kids and they were not able to adapt to it, whereas private schools didn’t do that. So the private school kids are not two years behind. They’re all still on grade level, but it’s so many of these public school kids that are two years behind and if we don’t get on top of that ASAP, that becomes a problem that snowballs. We should be implementing more programs and tutoring options helping public schools.
RER: What do you predict you will have gained from the process of running for public office?
Haag: Even if I don’t win I’m glad to have accomplished getting some important things discussed and hopefully pushing towards implementation. Roxanne Volkman, [who’s] also a 48th Ward Alder Candidate, and I were just talking yesterday that we want to form a committee if neither one of us wins to continue to push for Last Four Miles.
To find out more about Brian Haag and his platform, visit his website.
Early voting for the race begins on Feb. 13, 2023 and will run through Feb. 28 with a second round of voting taking place on April 4, 2023. You can find out more about locations and times here.