Thursday, January 24, 2019 || LETTERS ||OPINION || @maywoodnews
I’m Nathaniel George Booker and I’m running for village trustee to address Maywood’s issues from the root in the April 2, 2019 election.
I believe that Maywood belongs to the people. We need to get to a place where the government works for us and with us. That means property tax reform, commercial corridor revitalization and conversations that serve our community. That also means creating a Maywood where residents, businesses and government are working together to enhance the overall quality of life for all.
My family moved into Maywood in 1961 and since that time the community has experienced a drastic change. As a teenager I was president of PLCCA’s Youth Leadership Council, president of the Police Explorers, and youth leader for Operation Weed & Seed. Today, programs like this are in dire need in our community for youth empowerment.
Following my matriculation at Tennessee State University (B.S. Psychology), I became program manager for the Illinois Department of Human Services’ TeenREACH program at Proviso East High School and Proviso Math & Science Academy.
Today, programs like these that served after school and summer programming geared towards career, college and life preparation for our youth need to be revitalized.
My corporate career led to area director roles for the two of the largest hotel companies in the world — Marriott International and InterContinental Hotel Group. The experiences have given me an understanding of how vital community engagement truly is.
My career expanded to Nashville, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Dallas, and New York. I have learned from living in many communities the possibilities our village has. I have worked as a liaison to community economic development through workforce readiness programs and adding new jobs to communities. I have driven training and performance of people, products and processes contributing to financial revenues exceeding Maywood’s $40 million budget.
Maywood must come to together to move forward in a positive way. Of the 14 communities that make Proviso, we have the highest property tax composite rates along with being among the highest taxed in Cook County. Due to elected officials’ management decisions and votes, we have the highest water cost in Proviso and rank 156 out of 162 communities that receive City of Chicago water.
I am running for office to make a positive change in community engagement, economics, safety, housing, health, and education. When my grandfather, Willis J. Booker Sr., and father, Willis J. Booker Jr., passed away within one year of each other, I returned home.
Working to rebuild my immediate family, I realized my community family needed me, as well. Now a homeowner, I have experienced my share of issues in homeownership, renovations, water bills and receiving a $1,500 increase on my property tax in one year. These issues led me to join the Economic Development Commission. From there, I began to experience further frustration on what must be acknowledged at this point as intentional negligence from our elected officials.
Our village manager is voted on annually by our elected officials. While they have voted to increase his salary year after year, they have yet to lay out a plan that would showcase accountable measurements of success for him and each department of administration. To take our community to the next level, we must make strategic and impactful decisions.
We must change our community narrative to focus on our centralized proximity to two international airports, our great bus, train and interstate transportation access. Maywood’s trade area is defined as a 15-minute drive from the center of the village extending to approximately 125 square miles and population over 860,000.
Together, we can restore our downtown district with amenities that we all can enjoy, including full-service restaurants and grocery shopping. We will support new and existing local businesses, entrepreneurs and the workforce; improve our commercial corridors; and attract new investment to build a stronger, more dynamic local economy.
An economic message that is based on our community’s collective vision conveyed by all key stakeholders will establish a consistent community “brand” and competitive identity.
I look forward to Moving Maywood Forward Together!” VFP
— Nathaniel George Booker, candidate for Maywood trustee