After a close race in 2019, Jessica Gutiérrez is running again for the 30th Ward alderman seat

IRVING PARK Before Jessica “Washington” Gutiérrez was born, Chicago’s first black mayor told her father, “You better name that child after me,” she said.

Although Harold Washington died before Jessica Gutiérrez could meet him, she was always inspired by her namesake’s political legacy, especially his unique ability to bring people together, she said. Now Gutiérrez is charting his own political course by running for city councilor for the 30th arrondissement.

“I don’t think Chicago has seen anyone who can bring all walks of life together like Harold Washington did,” Gutiérrez said. “I want to be a unifier like him. He backed black and Latino alderman candidates and built a town hall that fought back.

Gutiérrez is a known figure on the northwest side and the titular Ald almost overthrown. Ariel Reboyras in the 2019 election – losing by around 300 votes – after forcing him to a runoff.

The daughter of former Representative Luis Gutiérrez earlier this month announced plans to run again, in a bid to unite the diverse group of voters who live throughout the neighborhood by making local government more accessible , she said.

“Our last campaign was one of the first times you’ve seen a campaign really organize the community,” Gutiérrez said. “We started something personal, something organic, from the bottom up. I just feel like our community deserves another chance to reclaim their voice.

The newly redesigned 30th Ward covers a variety of neighborhoods on the northwest side, including parts of Belmont Cragin, Irving Park, Portage Park, and Avondale.

Reboyras announced his retirement on September 13 after 20 years. Four other candidates have announced campaigns for the seat: warren williamsRuth Cruz, Javier Gloria and Juan Pablo Prieto.

“I think there is a new generation ready to be the new lifeline that the town hall needs,” Gutiérrez said. “Being an alderman has become the kind of job where you sit down and do the bare minimum, and a lot of aldermen are starting to see residents fidgeting. We are all frustrated with dirty old school politics.

For the past few years, Gutiérrez has worked with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center of Belmont Craigin to raise funds and provide COVID-19 relief resources to neighbors. She recently resigned to focus on her campaign.

“Having an understanding of the neighborhood, being in the community, understanding how difficult it is for these organizations to get their hands on the money that comes from these laws that are passed at all levels of government, I think that makes a good representative,” Gutiérrez said.

Gutiérrez also married and became a mother to her now 18-month-old son, who she says has “changed the way [she] look at the world. »

“I always knew I wanted to stand up and fight for people, but as a mom, wow,” Gutiérrez said. “Your perspective changes, and it’s not just about protecting my child. It’s about protecting all the children who live here and making sure they have a great education, that they feel safe, that they’re stable, that they have the best quality of life.

All of these experiences reinforced Gutiérrez’s beliefs about who an alderman should be: someone with close ties to the community who feels comfortable lobbying city agencies to ensure voters can access the resources they need. they need, she said.

If Gutiérrez is elected, she plans to focus on public safety, mental health issues, school equity, empty storefronts and environmental justice.

Gutiérrez also wants to ‘reinvent the police department’, increase resources for mental health, improve the public’s relationship with police and ensure officers are held accountable ‘since there should be accountability in every job’. , she said.

“All children deserve excellent schools. We shouldn’t choose which schools get resources over others,” Gutiérrez said. “I want to make Chicago the greenest city because if we have a future, it’s green. There are so many people who want to start businesses to reinvigorate the neighborhood that just haven’t had the chance.

“These are all big problems to solve, but I think the most important thing is to bring people together so I can listen to what they want.”

While these issues “won’t be resolved overnight,” Gutiérrez said she’s “willing to do the hard work” it takes to move forward.

This means “unifying” the neighborhood through frequent community meetings, practicing transparency through participatory budgeting, giving people the opportunity to use their talents to benefit the community, and making it easier for nonprofit organizations to access the funding, Gutiérrez said.

“It’s so important to just get out there and show your community how hard you work,” Gutiérrez said. “I want to hear about the problems people have and I want to solve them. Bringing people together in such a diverse parish is hard work, but it is the kind of work that will be most rewarding for our community.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every penny we earn funds neighborhoods across Chicago.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Thank you for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every penny we make funds Chicago neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s Alright: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”:

About Ethel Partin

Check Also

Ross Chastain takes on the family motto in the race for the title: Just Do It

AVONDALE, Ariz. — A video game move sent Ross Chastain into the Cup championship race, …