By RA Monaco
Aldermanic hopeful Rafael Yañez, Ed.D. steps-up for 15th Ward race.
Last year, when 41 city council members voted to accept gerrymandering of the 15th Ward, it was just one more decision being made downtown without the input of residents from its four communities.
In the eyes of recently declared aldermanic candidate Rafael Yañez, Ed.D., the changed demographics of the newly redrawn 15th Ward, from predominately African American to 68 percent Hispanic, is both an opportunity and a challenge that he accepts. “This is going to be an opportunity to build bridges and connect communities,” said Yañez.
“My job right now is talking to people in the 15th Ward and listening to them to see what’s going on; how they feel; what they think needs to be done to improve the 15th Ward,” explained Yañez, whose focus is on giving a voice back to residents and connecting a very segregated city.
As the candidates begin to line up, schools are sure to be on the front burner of the 15th Ward aldermanic race. “No other community in the City of Chicago had more school closings than the greater Englewood community,” explained Yañez, who was quick to recognize the difficulty in getting an agreement on even one subject in a community represented by more than three aldermen.
“What I see is that a lot of the [school] closings are being made in communities that have been in bondage,” said the aldermanic hopeful Yañez, who believes that “our focus should be driven by supporting our teachers and giving them the tools that they need.”
“I feel that [in] a community like greater Englewood—that is already suffering—there is a focus on just creating new projects to create private education” and in Yañez’s view, the process is “not really giving the opportunity for community stakeholders to be part of that change.”
“We ought to be thinking about projects that involve and open the door to our communities,” said Rafael Yañez, Ed.D., who holds both a Doctor of Education and Master of Science in Public Safety Administration degree. “Not projects that are going to be able to close doors and to say, no mom, no dad, you cannot tell us how to run this school.”
“I will include every single person” vowed Yañez who is grateful for the teaching and support of progressive individuals like Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. As a Chicago police officer who has implemented violence reduction programs, “I’ve been able to experience building groups that have been able to work together after so many tensions and so many fights. I’ve done it in the tough communities in the C.A.P.S Program,” says the aldermanic hopeful, Rafael Yañez, Ed.D..
While residents can expect to hear plenty from well financed school advocates as the list of aldermanic candidates grows, fortunately, 15th Ward residents will again have a voice come Election Day.