‘Community wants something new’: Runoff candidates vie for 30th Ward seat, open for the first time in 20 years

“This is an exciting time for Chicago and the 30th Ward,” one candidate said. “The community wants to see something new. They’re tired of the political machine and old dynasties.”

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30th Ward candidates Jessica Gutiérrez (left) and Ruth Cruz

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The two candidates headed to a runoff in the 30th Ward on the Northwest Side say residents want stronger public safety and more community investment.

Jessica Gutiérrez, the former policy director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and daughter of former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, received 38% of the vote in February. Ruth Cruz, an assistant director of admissions at Roosevelt University, got 27%.

After 20 years, Ald. Ariel Reboyras is retiring from representing the 30th Ward, which is made up of parts of many neighborhoods, including Belmont Cragin, Irving Park, Portage Park and Avondale.

Jessica Gutiérrez, 34, is making her second bid to represent the ward after narrowly losing to Reboyras four years ago.

“We had a typical rubber stamp alderperson who was just a yes man for the mayor,” Jessica Gutiérrez said. “Our message is the community can organize, can make noise, can hold their elected officials accountable.”

Cruz, 39, agrees the ward is ready for a change in leadership.

“This is an exciting time for Chicago and the 30th Ward,” Cruz said. “The community wants to see something new. They’re tired of the political machine and old dynasties.”

Both candidates identified public safety as one of the main issues for the ward. Cruz said she supports implementing Treatment not Trauma, reopening mental health clinics and conducting block safety assessments.

Both Cruz and Jessica Gutiérrez want more city funding directed to the ward for economic stability and development.

“We have so many different business corridors falling apart, vacant storefronts and struggling small businesses,” Jessica Gutiérrez said. “But there is money available. In Chicago, we don’t have a budget problem, we have an allocation problem.”

If elected, Jessica Gutiérrez would start with conducting an audit of the ward to identify the most glaring issues.

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