From left to right, State Rep. Jason Barickman, Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar and Normal Mayor Chris Koos at the Uptown Station on Monday. (Photo By Paul Morello/WJBC)
By Paul Morello
NORMAL - A Chicago Alderman met with members of the Bloomington and Normal councils Monday afternoon to answer questions and exchange ideas about issues that affect everyone, not just Chicago or Central Illinois.
The meeting with Chicago Ward 47 Ald. Ameya Pawar was organized by state Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign). Both participated in the Edgar Fellows Program, which is a leadership seminar for young lawmakers in Illinois.
"The idea was to kind of continue what we started at the fellowship which was to get to know people from around the state, understand the issues, and also understand that we're all facing the same problems, regardless of which side of the isle you're on," Pawar said.
Pawar, a Democrat, didn't actually know Barickman's party affiliation until a few days after meeting him.
"At some point we have to be able to put faith in our leaders and strip down some of these cliches and start working together," Pawar said.
Normal Mayor Chris Koos, council members Sonja Reece and Chuck Scott attended for Normal. Bloomington attendees included City Manager David Hales and aldermen Judy Stearns and Rob Fazzini.
Pawar answered questions about the problems the Chicago City Council faces, including tax raises, red light cameras and dealing with vacant buildings.
He also got a chance to ask local officials questions and was particularly interested in how Bloomington and Normal have handled electricity aggregation.
"That's a hot-button issue in Chicago as it was over here and so I want to know what they went through, whether there's any lessons learned and best practices, because it's going to come up for a vote shortly in Chicago," he said.
Pawar also spoke at Illinois State University Monday and visited Pontiac. Barickman will visit Pawar's ward early next year.
Paul Morello can be reached at email@example.com.