The Power of the Ballot Box
Commentary by Tom Nash

December 10, 2018

For several months leading up to the last election held on November 6, I took a vigorous stance in encouraging you, our fellow citizens, to exercise your right to vote. I am thrilled that the election produced some positive outcomes. One of the best outcomes which proved the power and importance of local elections is that Logan Square, Hermosa and Avondale voted overwhelmingly to fund a mental health clinic in the area.

Election results showed that about 86 percent of voters in those three neighborhoods voted for opening a Northwest Side mental health clinic and nearly 80 percent voted in favor of raising property taxes to pay for it. The ballot referendum for the mental health clinic is binding, which means that it requires action—funding has to be arranged and the clinic must be built. A property tax increase amounting to about $16 to $24 per year for most households will pay for the clinic.

The Northwest Side plan—in the works since May—is encouraging evidence that citizens, community advocates, and elected officials can work together to achieve shared community goals. Dozens of volunteers worked for months collecting signatures in order to get the binding referendum on the ballot.

In 2012, Chicago shut down six of its twelve public mental health clinics, including the Logan Square Mental Health Clinic at 2354 Milwaukee Avenue, which promoted city-wide protests. Expanding mental health services for Northwest Side residents is an exciting next step in restoring vital access to health care. The new NW facility will be the third community-funded clinic in the city.