22nd Ward candidate for alderman: Richard Juarez

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22nd Ward aldermanic candidate Richard Juarez meets with the Sun-Times Editorial Board Dec 17. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the 22nd Ward aldermanic candidates a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the city and their ward. Richard Juarez submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):

Who is Richard Juarez?

He’s running for: 22nd Ward alderman His political/civic background: The following are my professional current & former civic affiliations: City of Chicago Age-Friendly Advisory Commission Coalition of Limited English-Speaking Elderly (CLESE) Board of Directors Vice Chair Illinois Association of Community Care Programs Care Providers (IACCPHP) Board of Directors Illinois Department on Aging’s Community Care Program Advisory Committee (CCPAC), Advisory Member La Villita Chamber of Commerce Special Service Area # 25, Commissioner La Villita Community Church Administrative Board, Director, Chair, Elder Lawndale Christian Health Center (LCHC) Board of Directors, Vice Chair Mt. Sinai Hospital Community Advisory Council, Member St. Anthony Hospital Community Health Improvement Leadership Committee, Member His occupation: Director Long-term Services & Supports at Lawndale Christian Health Center His education: Masters Management Facebook: facebook.com/ElectJuarez22

Top priorities

What are the top three priorities for your ward?

Richard Juarez:The top three priorities are listed along with action steps on how they will be addressed:

1. Safety:

a. Strengthen and support of organizations in their efforts to reduce and/or eliminate high risk behaviors on populations of people they serve.

b. By demanding accountability and promoting collaboration with our local Police Department.

c. By creating coalitions among the many great organizations that serve our neighborhoods (community-based organizations, businesses, schools, and houses of worship).

2. Education:

a. Support of local schools and the schools’ councils in their efforts to promote student success.

b. Support of organizations that provide workforce development, connecting them to resources at the city, state, and federal levels, in order for them to provide job placement to local businesses.

c. Promoting healthy lifestyles.

d. Promoting the Arts (music, painting, dance, etc.), as an essential part of a community’s identity, pride, and wellbeing.

3. Jobs:

a. Building infrastructure: Improving streets, sidewalks, and alleys by working with City’s streets & sanitation department and the unions.

b. Build commercial roads that will divert diesel consuming trucks away from our residential communities.

c. Apprenticeship Programs with unions to allow community residents the opportunities for good paying secure jobs.

Recent civic work

Please tell us what you have done in the last two years to serve the city, your neighborhood or a civic organization. Please be specific. 

Richard Juarez:As Director of Long-term Services & Supports, I have worked on the development and initiation of an Adult Day Services (ADS) program at Lawndale Christian Health through the Illinois Department on Aging. ADS offer older adults’ opportunities to interact with other individuals in a supervised setting outside their home. Services include a wide range of social activities (arts & crafts, games, health & wellness workshops, field trips, counseling and fitness), including meals (breakfast, lunch, snacks).

I continue to provide volunteer work as Administrative Board Chair at La Villita Community Church, which is actively engaged in community services including support to Chicago Youth Boxing Club, Un Nuevo Despertar {Domestic Violence Prevention & Intervention Services}). I engage and support the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization’s efforts and the Little Village Community Council. I serve as Commissioner of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce’ Special Service Area # 25. I have also continued to serve on the City of Chicago’s Age-Friendly Commission providing advice on ways to better serve our beloved aging population throughout Chicago.



Chicago is on the hook for $42 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, which works out to $35,000 for every household. Those pensions, in the language of the Illinois Constitution, “shall not be diminished or impaired.” Should the state Constitution be amended to allow a reduction in pension benefits for current city employees or retirees? How about reducing pension benefits for new employees? Please explain.

Richard Juarez:The Constitution should not be amended to reduce pension benefits for current city employees or retirees. Pension benefits for new employees should be assessed (since the current system is not working) for the purpose of creating a pension plan that is viable for decades to come. If elected, I am in support of in-depth review and further discussion with the City Council regarding the matter.


Of the following often proposed sources of new revenue for Chicago, which of the following do you favor, and why? A Chicago casino, legalized and taxed recreational marijuana, a LaSalle Street tax, a commuter tax, a property tax increase, a municipal sales tax increase, a real estate transfer tax increase, video gambling.

Richard Juarez:I support Chicago casinos near our airports; such would generate revenues from the individuals traveling through, many of whom may be tourists from outside of Chicago. Currently, many Chicagoans travel to adjacent states to gamble. I support legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana simply because individuals currently consume it (and will continue to do so) illegally. Unfortunately, keeping marijuana illegal, unfairly affects black and brown and poor populations, who are convicted of drug crimes in larger numbers.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose? 

Richard Juarez:I favor legalizing fireworks in the State of Illinois. The states of Indiana and Wisconsin generate millions of dollars from Illinois residents who buy their fireworks.


Tax-increment financing districts are a primary economic development tool for Chicago. In a TIF district, taxes from the growth of property values are set aside for 23 years to be used to support public projects and private development. What changes do you favor, if any, in Chicago’s TIF program? 

Richard Juarez: Fair consideration and distribution to communities outside of the downtown surrounding areas when they are being declared as TIF districts. Infrastructure development is desperately needed in the 22nd Ward (streets, sidewalks, alleys, including overhaul of the sewers). Community improvement projects such as cleaning the polluted canal that runs alongside the 22nd Ward.

Aldermanic power

What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?

Richard Juarez: There are two perspectives; one is that an alderman should have the responsibility and be held accountable for zoning and development decision(s) (for the overall good of their ward); the other is that prerogative has been used to reinforce Chicago’s segregated boundaries. I would engage further review and study on the matter. One way to rein it in is to have mandatory public hearings per ward on a regular basis when there are zoning and development decisions to be made.

Police reform

The City of Chicago has entered into a federally monitored consent decree to overhaul the training and practices of the Chicago Police Department. Civil libertarians say it is long overdue, but others say it is unnecessary and could make it tougher for the police to do their job. What’s your view? 

Richard Juarez: Opinions are important however the decree has been put in place. I do agree and support to overhaul the training and practices of the CPD. The intention of the decree is to provide transparency and accountability, and to improve the quality of services for better community/police relations, create efficiencies within and support the overall operations at the CPD.


What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?

Richard Juarez: Interestingly enough, I agree and support the Sun-Times “31 Bullets” campaign which I see as a practical approach in reducing the number of illegal guns in Chicago.


What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?

Richard Juarez: To provide quality, outcome-based education to children in underserved communities while strengthening public education. Also, to create choices for children/parents who would otherwise have to attend ailing neighborhood schools.

Should the Chicago Board of Education be solely appointed by the mayor, as is now the case? Or should Chicago switch to an elected school board or some hybrid? 

Richard Juarez: I support an elected school board. In the February 2015 elections, Chicago voters supported an elected school board.

Affordable housing

Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain. 

Richard Juarez: There is not. The 22nd Ward is densely populated.


Chicago, by ordinance, is an official “welcoming city.” This means the Chicago police are generally prohibited from detaining undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities. What’s your position on this policy? What more — or less — should be done with respect to undocumented immigrants who live in Chicago? 

Richard Juarez: I am proud that Chicago is a “welcoming city.” The Chicago Police Department’s efforts should be focused on protecting and serving the public. Any effort or focus to detain undocumented individuals would be a waste of time and resources. I support a path to citizenship for the purposes of safety and accountability. I believe such a pathway would produce economic growth.


Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not? 

Richard Juarez: Yes. The City Council works for Chicagoans. There is nothing wrong with accountability and transparency. Allowing the IG authority to audit and review Council Program will enhance the trust of Chicagoans in their elected officials.

Would you employ, or have you employed, staff in your office who have outside jobs or contracts with entities that do business with the city? If so, please explain. 

Richard Juarez: No.

Role model

Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain. 

Richard Juarez:I intend to be myself, and not model myself after anyone. I don’t intend to be a rubber-stamp alderman and will represent my constituency to the best of my ability. I am running to advance and to advocate for each resident within the 22nd. Ward.

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