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Leslie Hairston is used to success. That is why it was no surprise that she upset an incumbent in her first race for 5th Ward Alderman. A Chicago native, who grew up in the 5th Ward’s Hyde Park and South Shore communities, she comes from a family rich in the tradition of community and civic service--which is what prompted her to run for alderman.
Hairston’s mother was an educator with the Chicago Public Schools for 43 years. During her career, Reva Hairston also served as principal at Mary C. Terrell Elementary School for 21 years. Her late father, Lester Hairston, was the owner of the once popular Avenue Lounge and the city’s first African-American owner/operator of a McDonald’s restaurant.
“My parents taught me that if I want to change things that I should roll up my sleeves and get involved,” said the graduate from the University of Wisconsin and Loyola University School of Law. “So, that’s exactly what I did. Since taking office, I have worked to attract new businesses, create new jobs, and stabilize the community by making sure there is a mix of affordable, moderate and market rate housing stock in the ward.”
An attorney, Hairston, was in private practice before being elected alderman. She is also a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois, where she worked in Springfield. Hairston handled litigation for the Office of the Illinois Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, where she argued before the Illinois Supreme Court.
Outside of her professional activities, Hairston has exhibited considerable involvement in community organizations and causes. She is a member of the South Shore Cultural Center Advisory Council, the Jackson Park Advisory Council, and the O’Keeffe Area Council. She is also a past member of the McFarland Mental Health Center with the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and a former beat facilitator for CAPS. Currently, Ms. Hairston serves as board member of Kaleidoscope, Inc.; she also is an active member of the Illinois State Bar Association, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
As 5th Ward alderman, Hairston serves on the Committee on Buildings; Committees, Rules and Ethics; Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities, Finance, Human Relations; Parks and Recreation; and Special Events and Cultural Affairs.