Jocilyn Floyd is running for alderman of the 7th Ward to not only bring a much-needed change to the ward but to end an era of alleged bullying by incumbent Alderman Greg Michell who she and others say is anti-Black businesswomen.
“Just a few days ago, I met with seniors at a place of business, and the alderman told the owner not to hold the event. That is bullyism,” Floyd said.
A trained professional mediator, Floyd said, “This woman is a second-generation businesswoman. Alderman Mitchell told her he did not want me to speak to the seniors at her place of business.”
Mitchell, who has repeatedly denied these allegations, has had several similar complaints filed against him.
At least four Black female business owners filed complaints with the city’s then-Interim Inspector General William Marback, alleging that Mitchell refused to give them a routine “access to alley” letter needed to open their respective businesses.
Another African American woman who also filed a complaint against Mitchell is Jeanette Fiadzoe, the mother of Jasmine Baynes who wanted to open a day care center that Mitchell allegedly blocked. She gave her daughter $150,000 from her husband’s life insurance.
These routine letters are required to allow motor vehicles to use an alley to access a property, according to the city’s ordinance. However, Mitchell has publicly stated he is exercising his “aldermanic prerogative” in refusing to approve the “access to alley” letter.
Mitchell’s cherry picking of who can and who cannot do business in his ward has caused financial hardship to several Black female business owners.
Baynes, a realtor, lost $150,000 and her dream of operating a daycare center. Baynes is selling her business because the financial loss is too much to overcome.
She has filed a complaint with the city’s Inspector General. “I did what I had to do,” Baynes said.
Floyd said she is running to improve the ward and to bring in new businesses in time for the completion of the Obama Library.
“The 71st to 79th streets should be the business corridor of the 7th Ward, but nothing is going on there.”
Floyd vowed not to use “alderman prerogatives” to block businesses from coming into the ward.
She has mediated several complaints filed by Black women business owners against Mitchell.
“I have the credentials and the passion to be alderman. I have watched resources pass this ward, and it was heartbreaking.
“I have watched monies related to economic development, funds related to saving homes, keeping homes out of foreclosure, addressing issues between landlord/tenant. The list goes on,” she said. “The 7th Ward is underserved.”
“Looking at 79th Street, 75th Street, Exchange, South Shore Drive. What happened? Where did South Shore go? Where did Jeffery Manor go? I remember when Jeffery Manor was safe. You couldn’t tell me people were shooting up Jeffery Manor until I saw it with my own eyes.”
Crime, Floyd said, is a major problem in the 7th Ward.
“There are people who are camped out in the CTA waiting area.” She said 75th Street is not safe, and 79th is equally problematic.
“There is no safe passage for children,” Floyd said.
“Where are the Safe Passage workers?” She said people who are just loitering create a problem.
Floyd said, if elected, she will fight to restore the truant officers. However, she thinks there should be a designated staff trained to address children’s needs.
“I am not a proponent of some of these security guards being in the schools. I am concerned about their training and credentials,” Floyd said.
“We’ve seen sexual assaults by these security guards and that is problematic. I would rather see more social workers in the schools.”
On the community level, Floyd said, “We need to address the trauma, too, but for those who are violent offenders.” She would ask the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies to help with these issues.
Yolanda Kemp, owner of the Open Arms Day Care located in the Jeffery Point Shopping Mall at 96th and Jeffery, hired Floyd to deal with Mitchell’s opposition to her daycare business.
When Kemp requested a parking access letter from Mitchell, Floyd said she was reportedly met with opposition.
“He told her people in the ward did not want another daycare center.” Floyd said that is not true and that Mitchell doesn’t hold community meetings. “There is a waiting list for this daycare center,” Floyd said.
Kemp, Floyd said, has allegedly been harassed by Mitchell ever since she requested a parking access letter for her after-school business. She needed that letter to open her daycare center.
“Alderman Mitchell also told us that the people in the ward didn’t want a grocery store, which is furthest from the truth,” Floyd said. “People are suffering because of the food desert in the 7th Ward.”
“I’d like to unite the 7th Ward, which is divided between the haves and the have-nots,” Floyd said. “I would like to expand the business corridors from 75th to 79th streets. I’d like to bring mental health support to the ward for those who need it.
“I would like to see additional health care and pharmaceutical services so that seniors can get their medication. I would like to provide more STEAM programs, more activities to connect education and the Lakefront,” Floyd said.
On several occasions, either through a public relations staff member or in person, Mitchell has denied Floyd and other Black female owners’ allegations. He told this reporter the women “were lying.