Top

6th District Aldermanic Race: Michael McGee

interviewed by Vince Bushell

Mike McGee Jr. brings political history with his candidacy . His famous — or infamous — father was elected alderman for the 10th district in 1984 and is now known best for radio commentary. In the primary McGee did well in the wards in the 6th district that were formerly part of the 10th district and almost tied Johnson-Odom’s vote count. Asked how he differs from his controversial father, McGee jokes about being branded the “son of Saddam,” and then follows that by saying he also has a mother, whose spirit tempered his dad’s confrontational approach. He also says, surprisingly, he is less conservative than his father now is. By that he means his dad takes a strong personal responsibility line when talking about young men and women who have made bad life decisions that have led to the dissolution of family. While agreeing that responsibility is important, McGee Jr. says “baby moms” and young fathers need another chance at life. He says we have to “address the problem as it exists,” rather than taking an idealized approach. As to what exists, McGee speaks about the “hollowing out” of the central city, with the King Drive District losing 52% of its population since 1970. Riverwest lost about 26%. While investment in the area is touted, McGee says it has not translated into jobs for the area, where he says unemployment remains high at 50%. “Job creation is number one,” he says. Crime issues follow closely on his list of needs for the district. On development issues, McGee says he supports the Community Benefits Agreement as a model to be used for the city as a whole. He believes compromise will be necessary to get it to work and that we need greenspace components in the plan. He believes that affordable housing should be a component of the agreement. Residents needs and desires should come first when making decisions regarding development, he says. When asked about working with the Third District Alderman on issues important to constituents in both districts, McGee says, “I am a person that can talk to anybody.” We need “to bring community together, to come together as council members.” He mentioned the Riverwest Currents working as a liaison between the two districts. McGee speaks against segregation and in favor of integration. He eschews political isolation, saying you “commit political suicide if you’re isolated.” McGee currently lives in one of the new housing developments along Commerce Street, which is an integrated and wealthy section of the 6th district. He mentions the need to desegregate the labor market and have regional cooperation on this issue. He is a proponent of light rail as a means to get people around the city and to the available jobs. McGee says he would open up an office in the district if elected. He feels he has been serving already, as people are calling him now on issues. He speaks proudly of his and his family’s involvement in Project Respect, in particular its youth programs. In sum, McGee “asks people for the opportunity” to serve and “to hold me accountable.” He promises to respond to residents questions . He says, I am working for you now, and he asks residents to “make it official” by voting for him on April 6th.
interviewed by Vince Bushell