“We live this every day”
Life on the east side
Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner squawked when Nadine Wright, a write-in candidate for her city council seat, spoke for two minutes at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Wright complained about litter, crime and a lack of homeless shelters. Turner called it a campaign speech. People shouldn’t be able to say such things during council meetings if they’re council candidates, Turner insisted. She said she’s contacted the inspector general. When she calmed down, Mayor Jim Langfelder asked if anyone else wanted to speak. A woman who arrived with Wright stepped forward.
She told me that she’d never before spoken in public except at her son’s funeral. She stumbled over words and through tears. Some sentences were incomplete. The grammar wasn’t perfect. This is what she said.
“Hello everybody. My name is Tina Williams and I am a resident in the east side area. So that means we live this every day. I don’t know what y’all believe in as candidates or how y’all live y’all’s life, but we live this every day. So, what’s going on in the east side touches our heart. It touches mine.
I don’t know what their agenda is. But my agenda is to see my neighborhood from my generation and my children’s. We cannot afford to move to other wards to where there’s better living. We can only afford to live, basically, in the areas that we live in. And everything that’s in our community is, basically, for us to stay in our community. So, I would ask mayor, that if you would possibly…
I am losing my children in this neighborhood. My son was murdered in this neighborhood. My niece was murdered, and her situation started through this ward, and then they moved the baby to another ward, and so we lost her. If you would please...
I don’t have anything to do with who gets an election or anything. All I want to do is have a better place and a better living environment for my kids. I don’t want to wake up seeing every neighborhood in my neighborhood abandoned and boards on the windows and my children can’t go down to the corner store. We -- I live there. I don’t have a fancy home. I’m actually homeless and have to live with my mom. This affects me as a person. It’s going to affect my children, because if we can’t get our life situated and our area situated, my kids may never be able to afford to move into a better situation.
So, all I’m asking, sir, is that you would just address some of the issues. Homelessness is very big in our community. We got people living at the library. They talk about the damage to the library and stuff like that. If can we add one more shelter or do something different so they’re not hanging down at the library, wherever humanly possible.
All I’m asking -- I don’t care who y’all vote for. I don’t care who wins. All I’m asking is please, whoever take the responsibility for the east side of Springfield to do what they say they gonna do. We are expecting that. Our roads is horrible. We are driving, and I’ve had to pay $200 for a axle for a tire, that I went over the tracks and tore up my van. These are things we have to pay out of pocket for.
We look around and there’s abandoned houses and sex offenders living in abandoned houses and our children can’t walk down the street ‘cause I’m too scared that someone might come out and rape and kill them. We live this every day. My son and my nephew was having it out -- he was murdered, right down 16th Street. All I’m asking is for us to do something, something in the community to help us live better. We live like animals. And every other ward in Springfield is way better than the east side of Springfield.
I have never seen nothing as bad as our community. And that tells me as a people that we have to live here because don’t nobody care about how we live, because this is the community for people like me. People like me. They stereotype us. We talking about y’all? Let’s not stereotype how they put us in this little box on the east side because we don’t have no money. Half of us minorities, half of us blacks, half of us don’t have families, don’t have fathers. Come on now. It ain’t about what y’all talking about. It’s hard for me. It’s a personal issue for me.
I want my children to be able to come outside and live better, not see garbage everywhere, abandoned houses and mattresses and just all kinds of nasty stuff. Can they come out and see some kind of glory? Can they come out and say “Oh, we live over here, and the community of people we live with, we’re all going to work together to make things happen.” We don’t have none of that.
And I didn’t come to campaign. If I did, I apologize. But that’s not what I’m here for. I’m a grieving citizen and a grieving mother and I want something better for my children and my mother and everybody else that live in my community. Thank you.”
Turner looked distraught while Williams spoke. Ward 1 Ald. Chuck Redpath and Ward 2 Ald. Herman Senor weren’t listening – as aldermen sometimes do when citizens speak, they’d left the room. Williams, 47, told me that she’s never voted. She said she doesn’t trust politicians: “Don’t nobody do what they say.”