Alderman Matt O’Shea has built a solid record in the City Council, championing public safety and ethics reform among other important issues.
Public safety will always be Matt’s top priority. He’s worked closely with the Chicago Police Department to ensure they have the support and resources needed to do their job. When Mayor Lightfoot balanced the budget by eliminating 537 sworn police positions, Matt voted NO. As CPD staffing levels dropped, he sponsored legislation that would create recruitment incentives to attract new officers. He also worked with leadership from the 22nd District to fund more than two dozen new public safety cameras to help officers work more efficiently.
Matt has long been a supporter of the Chicago Police Department. As an advisory board member of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, he’s raised nearly $500,000 to purchase new bullet proof vests for officers. He also serves on the board of the Chicago Police Chaplains Ministry and has been a strong advocate for greater mental health resources for first responders. Working with the Police Department, Matt fought to have a new officer wellness facility located in the 19th Ward. That center will open in 2023 to provide badly needed services to our overworked first responders.
During the pandemic, Matt raised funds to provide meals for first responders on the front lines of a public health crisis. He spoke out against the City’s continued reliance on cancelled days off, and passed legislation creating a first-of-its-kind financial benefit for the families of first responders who die by suicide.
Quality public education is vital to the strength of any community. Matt has fought for major investments in public schools throughout Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood. Most recently, he and Chicago Public Schools announced a $30 million investment in local early childhood education programs. Clissold Elementary will receive a new modular building for early childhood education, and the existing Barbara Vick Early Childhood and Family Center will be expanded with a new satellite facility at 9901 S. Western Ave.
Providing high quality educational programs for children under age five is extremely beneficial. Children who participate in early childhood education are less likely to repeat a grade or be identified as having special needs. They are more likely to graduate high school and become higher earners in the workforce.
Matt has fought successfully for major investments in our local public schools. He has secured more than $140 million in capital investments, including resources to address severe overcrowding at Cassell and Mount Greenwood Elementary schools; the demolition and replacement of a dangerous, crumbling building at Esmond Elementary; and almost $45 million at Morgan Park High School for science and computer labs, needed facility repairs, and a new football field.
Since his election in 2011, Matt has worked to improve our commercial districts. Using public incentive programs, he helped bring high quality new businesses to our community including Horse Thief Hollow, Buona, and Barraco’s. In concert with the Chicago Park District, he brought the Morgan Park Sports Center to the long vacant corner of 115th & Western Ave. and helped bring Joey’s Red Hots across the street. Matt used tax incentives to revitalize the former Chesterfield Bank building at 108th & Western Ave. and provided financial support to help renovate Franconello’s after a devastating fire.
In addition, Matt has spearheaded streetscape improvement projects on 95th Street, 111th Street, and at the 99th & Walden Parkway Commercial Area. These investments beautify the business district and help attract new businesses to the area. Additional Streetscape Improvements will be coming to 111th Street from Sacramento Ave. to Homan Ave. in 2023.
During the global pandemic, O’Shea raised more than $200,000 to support struggling small businesses. He also hosted a series of parking lot comedy nights to give residents a covid friendly activity and help local businesses generate more revenue.
Chicagoans have a right to honest, transparent government that utilizes taxpayer resources efficiently. Matt has been a strong voice for ethics reform and good government in the City Council. In 2019, Matt passed a ban on paid lobbying by elected officials. Matt’s law prohibits any City elected official or employee from serving as a paid lobbyist and prevents other elected officials in Illinois from being paid to lobby the City.
In Illinois, it’s not uncommon for elected officials to earn side income by lobbying other units of government. Matt recognizes the unavoidable conflicts of interests and opportunities for corruption that this creates and enact a legislative solution to the problem. In 2020, Mayor Lightfoot proposed exceptions to the ban, effectively trying to water it down. Matt led the charge against Lightfoot’s proposal, which was ultimately voted down unanimously in a City Council Committee.
Together with his colleague Alderman Michele Smith and the Board of Ethics, Matt is sponsoring a new ethics reform package that would increase penalties for ethics violations and establish strong campaign contribution limits. He and Smith previously worked together to give the City’s Inspector General jurisdiction over the City Council.
Matt is a strong voice for families with disabilities. He is a longtime member of the Board of Directors of Special Olympics Chicago/Special Children’s Charities, as well as a past board president and the current VP. Over the years Matt has spearheaded several important programs benefiting those with developmental disabilities.
Matt created an innovative partnership with City Colleges of Chicago and the Anixter Center to launch the After 22 Program. In Illinois, students with developmental disabilities age out of the public education system when they turn 22. From there, many go on a waiting list for state services or programs that can last as long as seven years! Sadly, many of these young people transition from a supportive high school environment to a life of isolation that causes great strain on their families.
After 22 provides a college experience for those who have aged out of the school system but want to continue their personal and educational development. After 22 offers job skills options as well as internship placement for its participants. This program is being piloted at Daley College with hopes of expansion to other City Colleges. A life changing program for its participants, After 22 will help many Chicagoans with developmental disabilities realize their potential.
Matt also created an Art & Music Therapy program for Special Education students in the CPS system. The global pandemic impacted special education students especially hard as they had particular difficulty with remote learning and lost access to the support services they would typically receive in their classrooms. Art & Music Therapy has already helped students better control their emotions and achieve a state of calmness at school. The program launched at Mt. Greenwood Elementary School and Morgan Park High School this year. In the fall, it will be expanded to include all 19th Ward CPS Schools with Special Education Cluster Programs.
In the face of a global pandemic, Matt worked to ensure residents of our community had access to resources and information they needed. He hosted quarterly telephone town hall meetings with the Chicago Department of Public Health to address questions about the virus. He hosted COVID testing events, and later COVID vaccination and booster clinics. Matt’s office collected food for local pantries overloaded with demand and led fundraising campaigns to help struggling local businesses. He also provided meal delivery to senior citizens, first responders, and front-line medical workers. Specifically, Matt:
- raised more than $400,000 for struggling small businesses
- scheduled 6,000+ vaccine appointments
- collected more than $100,000 & 50,000 lbs of food for local pantries
- delivered meals to more than 3,000 senior citizens
- hosted 16 COVID testing events that administered more than 5,000 COVID tests
- provided more than 20,000 meals to first responders & medical workers