Media Information

Hyde Park Herald, June 20, 2010

Alderman Rumsy?
George Rumsey throws hat into ald. Ring

Former Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-K CC) head George Rumsey told the Herald this weekend that he will challenge state Rep. Will Burns (D-26) for the position of 4th Ward alderman in the upcoming election. Burns was hand-picked by current Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) as her successor.

Preckwinkle won the Democrats’ nomination for Cook County Board president in a recent election, and, since a Republican has not won the seat since the 1960s, is very likely to prevail. She announced her choice of replacement with the warning that she would discourage any opponents to Burns from running. Rumsey said she did not take that approach with him.“

She was very gracious about it. She actually said she would not tell me not to if I wanted to [run],” Rumsey said. No other candidates have officially announced a run for the position.

Rumsey enters the race with an emphasis on the political decision-making process, a topic of great interest to many Hyde Parkers. Having overseen a number of public development discussions — including the closure of the Hyde Park Co-Op and development of Harper Court — Rumsey is known publicly as a conciliator, a man who brings different points of view together in the hopes of finding common ground.

The aldermanic position, he said, is a position where he could continue that tradition — valued by many Hyde Parkers.

“Development should begin with community input and end with community input,” Rumsey said. He points to the process by which Harper Court is being redeveloped as a missed opportunity. “I think the whole Harper Court process is a glaring example of what I would have done quite differently. I’m glad we’re getting somewhere with Harper Court, but I think how we got there is not how it should be done,” Rumsey said.

Rumsey is critical of Preckwinkle’s relationship with developers. He thinks the gaping holes on 53rd Street created by developers who made promises and never fulfilled them should, to an extent, be the responsibility of the alderman.

“One of the things that I do not like is the idea of allowing developers - whether they are L3 or the university or anybody else - to leave a neighborhood with vacant blocks. I think that’s just very bad any way you look at it,” Rumsey said. “ 53rd and Cornell, where Dixie Kitchen was, the old McDonald’s site - they’re just wounds on the neighborhood fabric. I think that should stop. I think the alderman needs to exercise a little bit more control over the development process and not just simply approve it and then turn it over to the developers to do with as they wish.”

Rumsey, 56, in addition to being the former head of HP-K CC, is a founding member and vice president of the Coalition for Equitable Development, an affordable housing group, and the Computer Resource Center, a business that teaches employees of not-for-profit organizations and others computer skills.

Rumsey’s concerns extend beyond development and include security, transit, affordable housing and a broader issue - one might say a matter of principle.“ I remember meetings where I’ve heard Toni stand up and say the reason she was alderman was because she was able to raise so much money that people wouldn’t run against her,” Rumsey said.“ That’s a cynicism I can’t stand. I can’t tolerate that. It might be tilting at windmills, but I should give it a shot.”

Rumsey is planning a “meet the candidate” event on Monday, July 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave. For more information, visit

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