Boy howdy did it get exciting ’round these parts last week! Our Public Newsroom with City Bureau kicked off last Thursday with a toast in our new Bronzeville office—which then led to some of the smartest discussions I’ve had in this city about how we can hold public office-seekers publicly accountable. I don’t mean “we” the press, the royal/generic we that might allow me to pass off platitudes about what should be done, in general, without ever really doing them. I mean we, the Reader. Your alternative newsweekly. The newspaper that asked you to come in and help us develop piercing questions to bring to our mayoral and aldermanic candidates. The paper that is using those questions to shape our coverage—coverage you will later read. And perhaps use to guide your decisions in the voting booth. Whereupon maybe we will have some elected officials in office ready to do some of the hard work that it will take to make Chicago everything it can be. Certainly, we here at the Reader are ready to ask the hard questions whenever that process falters.

When I say “your alternative newsweekly,” I mean it: Literally yours! It is free, and you can have one. It is one of the very few alternative newsweeklies that remain in the country, and it is right here in Chicago. Some of you write for us, illustrate, take photographs, or contribute in other ways. With City Bureau’s help, we asked those of you who don’t to come in and help shape our coverage. And now, folks are pitching in to our fund-raiser, too.

It’s the first time the Reader‘s ever done anything like this, and we didn’t know what to expect. But watching over 700 donors (at press time) drop a buck (or more) in our coffers to ensure we can continue asking hard questions of those who seek office has been exhilarating. Thank you! (We’ll say that a lot in the coming days.)

In this issue, we started posing some of those hard questions right away—to folks who may never even make it onto the ballot. In a smart piece by our own Maya Dukmasova, we track down a few mayoral hopefuls unlikely to survive the petition challenge—but who raise issues vital to the city’s future.

We’ve got plenty of other great stuff in the issue, of course, and some news: it’s our last issue with creative director Vince Cerasani, the man who’s kept our covers bold and eye-catching over the last year. He’ll be leaving to pursue other projects, and we wish him the best of luck. It’s also our first issue with print managing editor Sujay Kumar, who brings a background in cultural and investigative reportage to your alternative newsweekly.   v