Hone “Heartbroken by the Negativity of This Race”

Hone emphasized the value of in-person canvassing ahead of the runoff election.


By Eric Fang

Fifth Ward aldermanic candidate Tina Hone emphasized in-person canvassing and conversation in the last stretch ahead of the April 4 runoff elections. Hone will face community and labor organizer Desmon Yancy and is running to replace outgoing Fifth Ward alderman Leslie Hairston.

Hone, who graduated from the University of Chicago in 1984, most recently served as the City of Chicago’s chief engagement officer.

Yancy and Hone received 25.96 percent and 18.57 percent of the vote respectively in a crowded field of 11 candidates during the February 28 municipal election.

When asked how her policy positions have changed since the municipal election, Hone told The Maroon that “there has not been a dramatic shift, I believe, in my policy priorities.” Namely, Hone still emphasizes the need to increase public safety, invest in underserved youth, develop career pathways in high-demand industries, and create a safety net of affordable housing.

Nonetheless, Hone stresses that her policy positions are not fixed. Rather, they could fluctuate based on the conversations she has had with residents in the ward.

“I’m not a rigid person,” Hone said. “And so you may go out into the world thinking one thing, but as you listen to voters and listen to stakeholders, your positions may evolve a little bit.”

For example, Hone has yet to establish a firm stance on the plan to expand the Jackson Park golf course. The expansion would require hundreds of trees to be cut down on top of the hundreds already felled for the construction of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC), spurring several Chicago advocacy groups, such as Save Jackson Park, to rally against the golf course expansion.

“There are many people who have expressed concerns, and they’re legitimate concerns that I certainly understand and feel,” Hone said. “But as I have more conversations in South Shore, there’s a different feeling about the golf course. I’m finding people are more excited about the possibility of it. And so this will be one of those top issues of balancing competing legitimate interests that people who govern are called upon to do.”

Hone hopes to be more accessible to residents by returning their phone calls and emails more promptly than current alderman Hairston did.

“I think that on the campaign trail, what I’ve heard from many people is a disappointment about [Hairston’s] accessibility,” Hone said. “One of the things that’s really important to me is that people realize and understand that I know that I govern with the consent of the people and I serve them, not the other way around.”

Hone also plans to keep residents updated through newsletters and community meetings—something she believes has been lacking under Hairston’s tenure.

“I’ve been home for about six years in Hyde Park, and I am registered to vote here,” she said. “I have never gotten an invitation to a Fifth Ward meeting, and I’ve never gotten a newsletter or an email from my alderman. So I want to have better communication, broadly speaking, with my ward.”

In the final sprint before the runoffs, Hone’s campaign is focusing its energy on community engagement through conversations, both in-person and virtual. On February 28, Hone was spotted canvassing outside Ray Elementary School in the evening as voters came by.

“In-person engagement is very central,” Hone said. “Canvassing is part of it, but also lots of meet-and-greets and lots of Zoom calls and phone banking with buildings. One of the biggest challenges of this ward is accessing people in these buildings, so we’ve been focusing a lot on this mad dash on those big apartment buildings that we have not been able to door knock.”

Hone highlighted her financial constraints relative to Yancy’s when it comes to community outreach and organization. According to Reform for Illinois, a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization, Hone and Yancy currently have $69,446.45 and $316,277.48 in cash on hand for their campaigns.

“I’ll be honest, this has always been a very lean campaign,” she said. “I have not had the money that my opponent has raised. Last I looked, he had $288,000. I may be close to $100,000, so I don’t have the resources to have an office. My office is my dining room table.”

Hone also questioned the belief many in the community share that Yancy is the more progressive candidate of the two. She believes that his endorsements and financial backing from several key unions and Democratic state leadership make him the establishment candidate instead of a progressive one.

Yancy’s endorsements include unions like the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare, SEIU Local, and state politicians like Hairston, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, and Illinois senator Rob Peters.

“The party insiders or the party establishment are in lockstep behind him, and so I find it always fascinating that he’s considered the progressive candidate when I think independence is a key component of being progressive, and he’s certainly not the independent candidate that I am,” Hone said.

Hone further questioned Yancy’s residency, a controversy associated with his campaign since it began. Six fifth ward candidates, which does not include Hone, purchased advertisements prior to the municipal elections alleging that Yancy’s primary address is his former suburban South Holland home based on records that show he voted from that address in the 2020 March primary and general elections. Yancy told the Hyde Park Herald that he was not registered to vote in South Shore until March 2022 despite moving there four years prior.

“Either you lived in South Shore and voted improperly in South Holland, or you lived in South Holland and you didn’t meet the residency requirement to be running in the Fifth Ward,” Hone said. “I think that’s a legitimate question to be asked.”

Overall, Hone expressed that she was “heartbroken by the negativity of this race,” referring to personal attacks launched by both campaigns in the weeks leading up to the runoffs.

“I’m hoping these last few days, we will be able to focus on the positives that both Desmon and I bring to the table,” she said.

When asked what winning the aldermanic race would mean to her, Hone said, “It would be a capstone of my career. It would be an opportunity to give back everything I know and that I’ve learned over the course of my life and my career—to represent a ward that deserves to be fully represented so that it can achieve all of its aspirations. It will be represented like it has never been represented before if I win the seat, and I really want to give that to the people in the Fifth Ward.”