Safety is paramount to survival. Safety offers us peace of mind. We will be kept from harm, and can focus on opportunities to achieve success and provide for our families and build for our futures. Unfortunately, for many of us in the 20th Ward, safety is a luxury that everyone cannot access, and community violence is a constant.
The presence of violence affects the entire community, specifically our most vulnerable population. Our elders feel preyed upon during their daily commute. And our young children and young adults are afraid to enjoy their time outside because of the random chance of being struck by a stray bullet or mistaken identity.
While the state of Illinois and the City of Chicago have enacted strict gun laws, we have not found a solution to end the flow of illegal guns that proliferate our communities. These laws approach violence from a punitive point of view, but neglect to address systemic root causes to violence. And addressing violence as a public health concern, and viewing it as a function of historical economic divestment, positions us to do just that. Communities like the 20th Ward are not inherently violent; they lack the very resources that allow other Chicago communities to thrive. The residents of the 20th Ward should not be highlighted by their resilience in the face of adversity, but in their merit to build successful futures for their families.
My commitment to service is a result of my thirst for knowledge that was inspired by the quality education I received. I believe that every child and adult have a right to take full advantage of this a well. Currently, the 20th Ward has schools performing at disparate levels of achievement. This creates competition to attend the higher performing schools with limited seats, and leaves fewer quality options for students that are left out. Every family should have the reassurance that their school will prepare their child for whatever future they choose.
Beyond instruction, with additional supports, our schools have the capacity to provide wrap-around services to address the concerns students and their families face, that ultimately impact their ability to learn and thrive. This can be achieved through cultivating school and community partnerships with local organizations and citywide institutions that provide specialized services for the needs of our families. Additionally, leveraging the Chicago Public Schools Local School Councils, Parent Advisory Councils, Community Action Councils, and relevant advisory/governing bodies for charter schools, can ensure that appropriate resources are provided to support schools in achieving their Continuous Improvement Work Plan goals and other metrics.
The residents of the 20th Ward face daily barriers to economic security and mobility. These barriers are compounded by growing tax obligations, including the state and municipal pension crisis. With very few businesses in the community that provide head of household employment, 20th Ward residents, specifically those living below the area median income, are severely underemployed. These circumstances create housing insecurity, unsafe communities, and utter desperation.
We have seen Chicago work for the families living in other communities across the city. We know that there is a better way to circulate more revenue in the 20th Ward. I believe the 20th Ward can transform into an environment that boasts a booming local economy that extends beyond general small business development, by transitioning businesses from side hustles/ freelance gigs in basements to lucrative startups along the 61st and 63rd Street Corridors.
With ample opportunities available for residents to take advantage of, they will feel empowered and have the capital to provide for their families and lift themselves out of poverty.