Chicago's credit rating was hit with a triple downgrade last week to junk status by Moody's Investors Service. The agency blamed the city's ballooning pension payments, including $550 million due to the police and firefighters union this year. Detroit is the only other major U.S. city in the same boat. Next year's city budget faces a $1 billion shortfall. So will the City Council raise property taxes or are there other revenue sources to tap? Four new aldermen talk with us about their priorities, ideas, and concerns. Joining us are Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward), Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward), Michael Scott, Jr. (24th Ward), and Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward).
Read biographies of the newly elected aldermen.
2nd Ward: Brian Hopkins
After graduating from the University of Illinois-Springfield, Brian Hopkins interned for the Illinois State Senate and helped advise President Bill Clinton’s transition team on ways to address the national issue of homelessness. he went on to be the director for the Illinois Coalition to End Homelessness. A lifelong Chicagoan with generations of family here, he returned to Chicago in 1999. Since then, he has twice been voted president of the community group, Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR). He has also been vice president, treasurer, and currently sits on the board. At the helm of SOAR, he’s solved complex issues from a community perspective. He also co-chaired the first-ever neighborhood music festival in SOAR’s history, StreeterFest; the kind of neighborhood event that volunteers know will test the most dedicated consensus builder’s values and organizational skills.
7th Ward: Gregory Mitchell
Gregory Mitchell has been a resident of the 7th ward for more than 44 years. He earned a B.S. in Accounting with Minors in Finance and Computer Information Systems from Grambling State University. In college, he was elected senior class president and student government association vice president. He entered corporate America and held various financial positions, including accountant, auditor, financial analyst, and trader. He transitioned into the Information Technology field at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange where he worked as technical support specialist to the senior network engineer and currently IT Manager. In 2011, he ran for alderman and finished third, behind the incumbent and a former alderman.
10th Ward: Susan Sadlowski Garza
Susan Sadlowski Garza, a lifelong resident of the 10th Ward, has worked in Chicago Public Schools for 20 years. Currently, she’s a counselor at Jane Addams Elementary and serving as the area vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union. She’s in charge of 69 schools, which includes all of the schools in the 10th Ward. She’s worked with families throughout the ward to create award-winning after schools programs, such as Safe-Kids and Bully Patrol. She’s also a member of Communities in Schools and East-Side Pride, and served on the board of the Hegewisch Community Committee for 15 years. She has a master’s degree in counseling and a bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts.
11th Ward: Patrick Daley Thompson
In 2012, the voters of Cook County elected Patrick Daley Thompson as a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. The Board of Commissioners oversees a $1 billion government agency that protects drinking water and manages storm water throughout Cook County. He’s a partner at the law firm of Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella in Chicago. He focuses his practice on real estate and municipal finance matters. Prior to joining his current firm, he was a partner at DLA Piper, and practiced law at Ungaretti & Harris. Based on his legal expertise, he has proven experience getting development projects completed. He has been involved in over $500 million in development projects through his representation of developers and business owners with zoning and real estate matters. He and his wife Katie, a schoolteacher, are raising their children on the same block where he was raised.
15th Ward: Raymond Lopez
Raymond Lopez, a lifelong resident of the Southwest Side, was raised in the Vittum Park and Sleepy Hollow/Archer Heights neighborhoods. Brighton Park has been his family’s home for the last several years. He attended St. Camillus Catholic Elementary School and St. Laurence High School. Upon graduating, he attended the University of Illinois-Chicago, majoring in the teaching of English Literature and Political Science. His civic service began at 18 as a precinct captain. Two years later he was leading marches against rampant prostitution along Cicero Avenue. He previously served as a community representative on the Kennedy High School Local School Council. In 2011, he ran for alderman of the 15th Ward, forcing the incumbent into a runoff. In 2012, he was elected the first Mexican-American Democratic Committeeman in the 15th Ward. He has spent the last 10.5 years working for Southwest Airlines.
17th Ward: David Moore
David Moore, a Chicago native, grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes and attended Simeon Vocational High School and Western Illinois University, where he had a dual major in accounting and operations management. He earned a M.A. with emphasis in government studies from Loyola University Chicago. He established a successful accounting career in the private sector at several Fortune 500 companies, as well as with the Chicago Department of Aviation and Housing Authority. Currently, he’s an assistant to the commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review. His work in the public sector exposed him to nearly every aspect of government management. He oversaw projects for redeveloping the South Loop, creating job-training sites, and identifying employment opportunities for low-income residents. He served as a precinct captain of the ward’s Democratic Organization, and played key roles in city, state, and national elections. He’s a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
18th Ward: Derrick G. Curtis
Derrick G. Curtis currently serves as a superintendent and Democratic committeeman for the 18th Ward. Previously, Curtis was a police officer for 13 years and worked with the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. Curtis has lived in the 18th ward for two decades. He is involved with two local school councils, Little League softball, and two mentoring programs: Men of Action and the Illinois National Guard's Lincoln Challenge Program.
24th Ward: Michael Scott, Jr.
A native and current resident of the North Lawndale neighborhood, Michael W. Scott, Jr., has focused his energies on building an exceptional West Side. He has deep roots in the City of Chicago, most importantly in the North Lawndale community where he lives and serves. As area manager for the Central Region of the Chicago Park District, he manages 35 staffed and unstaffed park facilities. In 2012, he successfully produced the Westside Music Festival, a series of musical concerts that are free to the community. Earlier in his career, he worked as an assistant project manager with the Public Building Commission of Chicago. Following his service there, he worked for After School Matters, where he proudly served as a consultant helping to develop the KidStart website. Scott is a 1998 graduate of Morehouse College where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science. He is certified by the National Park and Recreation Association and the National Academy of Sports and Medicine.
29th Ward: Chris Taliaferro
Chris Taliaferro, a Virginia native, served in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school. In 1989, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines in Chicago, where he taught weapons and tactics during Operation Desert Storm as part of the inspector and instructor staff. Upon honorable discharge from the military, he briefly served as deputy sheriff of court services with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. In 1994, he began his career with the Chicago Police Department, and is currently a sergeant in the 25th District, which encompasses much of the 29th Ward. He received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Lewis University. Then he received his juris doctorate from The John Marshall Law School and passed the Illinois State Bar Examination in 2007. Currently, he’s a litigation attorney at Nexus Legal Group, P.C. and one of the firm’s founding partners. He serves on the Executive Board of Directors of the Northwest Side Community Coalition.
31st Ward: Milagros “Milly” Santiago
Milagros “Milly” Santiago came to Chicago in 1976 and started working as a bilingual clerk for Chicago Public Schools in the Department of Bilingual Education. She joined the Army Reserve and attained a B.A. in communications from Northeastern Illinois University. She collaborated with various Spanish publications in Chicago as a columnist. She worked as a news reporter for Telemundo and a news anchor for Univision. She became the first chief of staff for former Ald. Billy Ocasio and joined the press team for the Governor's Office in 2008. She currently holds the position as communications manager for state agencies under the Central Management Services.
35th Ward: Carlos Ramirez-Rosa
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is a lifelong Chicagoan and community leader. He worked to keep families safe from deportation and win President Obama’s historic executive action to fix immigration as a community organizer for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). Prior to ICIRR, he served as a congressional caseworker in the office of Congressman Luis Guiterrez. There he spearheaded successful constituent service efforts that helped families, seniors, and veterans cut through red tape and solve their government problems. He’s served as an elected community representative to the Avondale-Logandale Local School Council, a former mentor at the Erie Neighborhood House, and high school debate coach for CPS students. He’s a graduate of CPS and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked to secure funding for women and LGBT programs. He’s the first openly gay Latino member of the Chicago City Council.
36th Ward: Gilbert Villegas
Gilbert Villegas is a U.S. Marine and served during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He was the chief of staff at the Illinois Capital Development Board and served as the deputy director of the Office of Business and Workforce Diversity at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for 5 years. Currently, he’s the secretary of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation, Elite Veteran Owned Business Network Board, All Chicago Board, Shabbona Park Advisory Council, Bell Park Advisory Council, Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, and Steinmetz College Preparatory LSC. He also trains and mentors young entrepreneurs in his community. He’s a longtime resident of the Northwest Side and lives in the Mont Clare neighborhood.
41st Ward: Anthony V. Napolitano
Anthony Napolitano is a decorated former Chicago Police officer of five years and Chicago firefighter of 10 years. He is a member of the FAiR Coalition and supports an elected school board. He attended Immaculate Conception Grade School and Notre Dame High School. He graduated from Calumet College of St. Joseph University with a B.A. in Criminal Justice. He’s an active community volunteer at local parks, CPS, and charitable organizations such as 100 Club and St. Baldrick's. He's a lifelong 41st Ward resident. He and his wife Jamie O'Shaughnessy-Napolitano have been married for 10 years, and their three children attend local Chicago Public schools.