Julia Ramirez

12th Ward aldermanic candidate Julia Ramirez

Website: ramirezfor12.com

Contact Email: info@ramirezfor12.com

Essay Questions

1. What are the top issues facing the McKinley Park neighborhood area of your ward, and what are your proposed solutions?

One of the top issues I hear about at the doors in McKinley Park specifically is the issue of government transparency and the lack of protection of our environment. The previous alderman traded our public health for funding from corporate polluters. We need leadership that prioritizes our community’s health and not corporate interests. We must establish community driven zoning processes to discuss the kinds of industry that are coming to the ward. We cannot allow another MAT Asphalt plant incident to occur. And we must establish a Department of Environment that is fully funded and has the proper personnel to hold manufacturing companies accountable to the EPA standards.

Secondly, one of the most pressing issues facing the residents of McKinley Park is public safety. I intend to address the lack of public safety in our communities by establishing short and long term goals that assist us in reducing violence. I will advocate to provide resources, as a prevention measure, to those struggling so that their needs are met and they are not forced to wander in the streets and in dangerous situations.

My lived and professional experience drive me to ensure a holistic approach to public safety which requires me to think about the best ways in which we address the needs of individuals as a whole so that they are not in harm's way or committing harm. This means we must commit to making major investments in social services and mental health resources, and that we are providing people with the education and employment opportunities that allow them to be economically stable. When people have a stable job and have housing and food security - they are on a path to prosperity. We should yearn to have as many of our residents on that path as possible. I will also advocate for greater investment in violence prevention and intervention programs, jobs training and safe public transit.


2. What are the greatest opportunities for improving the McKinley Park neighborhood and the ward, and how would you work to enable this?

Our community is centered in the middle of many industrial corridors and manufacturing areas. Understandably, folks are eager to be involved in decisions affecting our neighborhoods. I will seek to include community residents in a community driven zoning process and participatory budgeting. For too long, our community has been subject to decisions that negatively affect their health, such as the MAT Asphalt plant. Our constituents deserve to have a say in what happens in the neighborhood and I will ensure that we seek and include community feedback in key decisions in the 12th ward.

In addition, I know that public safety is a huge concern for neighbors and in order to revitalize our community we must address it through a holistic approach. We need to improve the resources and conditions for all in regards to schools, jobs, transportation, housing and more. We must fully fund our schools to provide after-school resources and job opportunities for our youth. We must invest in improving the CTA to provide equitable and reliable transportation in our communities. One way to achieve this is to revisit plans to convert Western and Ashland into bus rapid transit lanes, as well as look to emulate other cities who have eliminated or reduced fares in target routes or for people living under the federal poverty threshold, as well as use transit-oriented development opportunities to provide affordable housing in our community. Finally, as our community goes through rapid changes, it’s important to make sure residents remain here and we provide the assistance necessary to assist them. I would support Ald. Rodriguez’s plan in earmarking COVID relief dollars to provide homeowners who earned under 300% of the federal poverty line a property tax relief that can ease their economic burden due to the recent increase in tax assessment.


3. How will you ensure that your constituents in the McKinley Park neighborhood will have their voices heard and considered in ward decisions?

Transparency and accessibility to the 12th ward office will be one of my main priorities as alderwoman. We have seen successful community collaboration in other parts of the city that can and should be replicated in the 12th ward and McKinley Park. Specifically, I will introduce a participatory budgeting process to the ward, which will seek to include constituents’ feedback in how our ward dollars are allocated. I also commit to implementing a community driven zoning process that requires community voices to be heard and factored into zoning decisions that affect everyone in the ward. I will also organize a monthly ward night and quarterly town-halls to update community residents and solicit input.


4. After redistricting, the McKinley Park neighborhood is now irregularly chopped up between the 11th and 12th wards. How will you work with your fellow neighboring City Council representative on issues that straddle both wards, such as the revitalization of the 35th Street commercial corridor?

The effects of community issues are not siloed by ward boundaries. The lack of collaboration between wards is what has allowed McKinley Park to host both the MAT Asphalt plant on Pershing as well as the Amazon Warehouse just a few blocks away on 35th and Ashland. These types of decisions have great effects on the health of our residents and we must collaborate across ward boundaries to ensure that we are making the best decisions possible for our neighborhoods. In regards to the 35th St. commercial corridor as well as other development proposals, I will engage all stakeholders, including neighboring alderpeople, residents, business owners, and community leaders in a transparent and democratic process. I will also collaborate with neighboring alderpeople to advocate for a chamber of commerce specific to McKinley Park and Brighton Park to support small businesses to flourish in our neighborhood. I pride myself in being a coalition builder and therefore, I know, collaboration across wards and levels of government will not just be ideal but a necessity as we work collectively to improve our community.


5. How will you ensure and improve the delivery of City of Chicago services to McKinley Park neighborhood residents and businesses?

Ensuring city services are effectively delivered is the most basic responsibility of the aldermanic office. I will ensure staff have a system in place that effectively intakes and tracks constituents’ needs. I will build on my existing relationships with residents and businesses to ensure there is effective and consistent communication on the needs in their neighborhood. And most of all, I will make sure we are consistent, reliable and accessible and that every request is responded to in a timely manner and equitably across the ward. This includes making sure we have bilingual staff that can communicate with constituents in Spanish and Mandarin/Cantonese and who have the cultural competency needed to provide good service.


6. What past experience, capabilities and capacities make you the best candidate for the job?

I am well qualified to be alderwoman of the 12th ward because I bring 14 years of experience as an organizer, social worker and advocate in this community. That combined with my lived experience growing up in the ward has prepared me to represent this community, knowing intimately the issues most relevant to our neighborhoods.

My experience leading anti-violence initiatives and as a social worker make me uniquely qualified to serve our community and find holistic solutions to ensure everyone feels safe in our neighborhoods. I’ve done the hands-on work for years and am ready to bring solutions to City Council. My work at Latinos Progresando and Instituto del Progreso Latino gave me insight and experience working directly with immigrant families and youth to understand the needs our community has around education, after-school resources, and jobs. I have direct experience from my time at BUILD Chicago in gang-intervention initiatives that are proven to reduce crime and support youth. My work as a re-engagement specialist provided me the skills needed to work with working class families and communities in a way that is accessible and transparent.

I know that the systematic barriers that hinder our community from thriving will not be addressed so long as we have politicians committed to the status quo, who are afraid to stand up for what is needed. I am a candidate committed to fighting for our communities, not for what is most politically expedient, and I bring the experience necessary for this fight.

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