About the Candidate
Name: Berto Aguayo
DOB: July 18, 1994
Occupation: Community organizer
Political Experience: Below is a list of my political and civic experiences:
- Community Organizer, The Resurrection Project
- Co‐founder, #IncreaseThePeace initiative
- National Leadership Trainer, Obama Foundation
- Youth Director, St. Michael’s Church
- Local School Council Community Representative, Back of the Yards College Prep
- Civic Seminary Fellow, Citizen University
- Multicultural Leadership Academy, Latino Policy Forum
- Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar, Aspen Institute
- Illinois Lincoln Laureate Award, The Lincoln Academy of Illinois
- Hoops in the Hood Director, Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council
- Congressional Intern, Office of United States Senator Dick Durbin
- My Brother’s Keeper Cabinet, City of Chicago
- Mayoral Youth Commissioner, Mikva Challenge
- Intern, Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Right
- Student of politics and history, University of Havana, Cuba
- Representative, Chicago Earthquake Relief Delegation
Hello, my name is Berto Aguayo and I am running for Alderman of the 15th Ward of the City of Chicago. I am a local school council member, a community organizer, a youth director at St. Michael’s Church, and I was a national leadership trainer with the Obama Foundation. I am the first in my family to attend college, graduating with high honors from Dominican University with dual bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Economics. As a lifelong resident of the Back of the Yards neighborhood and a product of an immigrant family, I have been a fierce voice against gun violence and a champion for immigrant rights. My work in Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, Gage Park and West Englewood has been recognized nationally as a solution to prevent violence in Chicago.
I could tell you about how I opened a community center, how I mobilized thousands of people to combat gun violence, or how I crafted city wide policy to reduce gang violence. But, what makes me truly qualified to represent you is my experience of going through the struggles that our community faces every day. I know what it’s like to lose friends at a young age. I know what it’s like be in overcrowded classrooms and what it’s like to move from place to place because of unstable housing. At the end of the day, we need someone in office that can read policy with those set of experiences in mind and the capability to change them.
As your 15th Ward Alderman, I commit to fighting for you in city council to:
-Invest in real solutions to prevent violence
-Fully fund our schools
-Create jobs in our community
-Fix and clean our streets
-Expand fair housing and mental health resources
Together, we can change the 15th Ward. Because we deserve better!
What is your vision for this office?
In the 21st century, the role of an Alderman is a much more that of an organizer. We envision our office as a hub for civic organizing in the 15th Ward. We plan on creating a community driven zoning board made up of local stakeholders from each community to advise our office on new developments in the neighborhoods. We also plan on developing a Youth Advisory Council to advise our office on policy impacting youth, to civically engage other young people, and to implement community service efforts. Moreover, we want to democratize the way our ward money spent. That is why, our office is committed to implementing Participatory Budgeting so that constituents themselves can decide where there money goes. Lastly, we are committed to organizing quarterly townhall meetings in each of the neighborhoods so that we can address constituent needs and plan for the future.
What is the most pressing issue facing constituents, and how can you help address it?
The most pressing issue facing constituents is incessant gun violence that we witness in our neighborhoods. We plan on tackling the root causes of gun violence that would make someone pick up a gun in the first place. We can expand programs like One Summer Chicago to give more young people jobs in our communities, so they can pick up a job instead of some bullets. We can increase the amount of funding for mental health services to have more social workers in schools and more mental health clinics in our neighborhoods. Last but not least, we can increase the amount of funding schools receive to ensure all youth have a quality education and are not forced into desperate situations. We are open to exploring other measures. Moreover, the issue of gun violence is one that disproportionately affects young people and we believe that our campaign has the most qualified track record working on this issue and with the population most affected by the issue.