A clinical therapeutic counselor with the Gateway Foundation and anger management educator at the Lake County jail has been named Waukegan's new 1st Ward alderman.
The City Council voted unanimously this week to approve Sylvia Sims Bolton to fill the seat left vacant when Sam Cunningham, who had served as the ward's alderman for 18 years, was elected the city's next mayor in April.
"She is a long-time resident and an incredibly capable individual and, most important, she's a wonderful person," Cunningham said ahead of Monday's vote.
As a child, Bolton moved to Waukegan where she attended what was then Carman Elementary School, Webster Junior High School and Waukegan West High School, according to a biography provided by the city.
She moved back into the 1st Ward 19 years ago when she was selected as a Habitat for Humanity partner, and helped volunteers renovate the house that would become her home, she said.
"I just wanted to improve my life for myself and my children," Bolton said. "I was a single parent. I wanted to own my own home."
The move happened while she was pursuing her undergraduate work, said Bolton, who has three grown children and seven grandchildren. She recently married David Bolton.
Emily K. Coleman/News-Sun
Sylvia Sims Bolton has an associate's degree from the College of Lake County in counseling, a bachelor's degree in behavioral science from National Lewis University, a master's degree in organizational leadership from Dominican University and an honorary doctorate degree in practical counseling from Open Arms Bible College and Seminary.
According to a biography provided by Bolton, she currently works as a therapeutic clinical addiction counselor for Gateway Foundation in Lake Villa and as a chaplain and educator at the Lake County jail with Nicasa, formerly known as the Northern Illinois Council Against Substance Abuse.
She's never served in an elected position before, but has volunteered as an local elections judge in the past, she said.
Bolton, who plans on running for the seat when it's up for eleciton in April 2019, said she thinks the skills she's learned through her work, her "people person" personality and her connections to the community will help make her a good alderman.
"I'm interested in the residents and empowering them for one thing helping my community improve," she said. "I'd like to see better communication between residents and city officials. I'd to improve safety, less violence, less drug activity, less prostitution. I'd like to see the businesses collaborate together in supporting the community, and I'd definitely like to see the church community to come together and support the residents there."
Her plan is to get businesses and churches working together and playing a more visible role in the community through block parties and events designed to help residents come together, she said.
"I think if we could get everyone on the same page instead of reinventing the wheel, that would build us a stronger community," Bolton said. "We won't be so divided."
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Sylvia Sims Bolton appointed new Waukegan 1st Ward alderman - Chicago Tribune
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