Candidate for Chicago City Council

About the Candidate

Name: Milagros “Milly” Santiago
DOB: July 25, 1954
Family: I am divorced, have two daughters, and a grandson with another grandchild on the way.
Occupation: 31st Ward Alderman, Incumbent Candidate
Political Experience: For the past three and a half years, I have served as Alderman of the 31st Ward.

Candidate Statement

I am Milly Santiago, Alderman of the 31st Ward. Since I was elected, I have focused on partnering with community organizations, local police districts, neighborhood schools, religious leaders, and businesses. I strive to build trust among the families and seniors in the area.

As a member of the Latino, Veteran’s, and Women’s Caucuses, I have been a strong voice in city council and I advocate for equal opportunities for minorities, veterans, the homeless, people with disabilities, and immigrants.

My top priorities as a full-time Alderman continue to be economic stability, public safety, education, and housing.

Under my leadership, the 31st Ward has attracted new businesses that have created jobs. Residents can now work and shop without having to leave the area.

CPD records show a steady crime rate decline due to more police patrol, roll calls, and our increased efforts to encourage residents to be more proactive in working with the police.

I implemented the participatory budgeting program which allows residents to give input on the best use of 1.3 million dollars of aldermanic menu money.

I created a zoning advisory council for community leaders to analyze specific zoning change requests.

I advocated for 4.2 million dollars in TIF funds that will be invested in a park, a public high school, and a library. This plan is moving forward, and I can’t wait for the official unveiling.

An affordable housing project for seniors and working families is also in progress. I am optimistic that we will secure the necessary funding to make this possible.

I’m proud that the area I have called home for about 35 years is where businesses and residents want to stay, work, send their kids to school, and plant their roots.

One term is not enough to accomplish my vision but I look forward to serving the 31st ward for a second term to continue the job I have started.

Candidate Q&A

What is your vision for this office?

For the past three and a half years, I have worked towards envisioning and strengthening the 31st Ward in regards to public safety, education, and economic growth. I am proud to report that I have been hard at work bringing those positive changes to our communities in the 31st Ward.

As Alderman, I have worked closely with the 16th and 25th Police Districts to ensure the utmost level of safety when it comes to protecting our children and families. Our districts’ CompStat records are proof that crime in the 31st Ward continues to decline. I truly believe that my leadership in encouraging my residents to be active participants in roll calls and Beat meetings, which are essential to addressing public safety concerns, have made a significant impact. Part of this accomplishment is directly linked to establishing a stronger relationship with local Chicago Police Commanders from the 16th and 25th Districts to address the concerns and needs of the communities I represent.

The 31st Ward boundaries include three elementary schools (Falconer, Schubert, and Barry) and two high schools (Kelvyn Park and Foreman). I have worked with non-profit organizations and various City departments to consider allocating additional funds including TIF money for new programs and infrastructure improvements for our schools. I will continue to work with community residents and advocates to make improvements a reality.

There are over 14,000 businesses in the 31st Ward, and the list is growing. I have established an inclusive system of public participation when it comes to bringing new businesses and new jobs that offer attractive hiring opportunities and beneficial services to the 31st Ward. I do not grant licenses easily; I always hold community meetings so that my residents have an open floor to address their concerns to get the most accurate and transparent answers to their questions.

What is the most pressing issue facing constituents, and how can you help address it?

One of the most pressing issues facing the constituents is the issue of housing and the lack of affordability in the 31st Ward. I am proud to say that I have been successful in negotiating a fair number of affordable units within private, multi-unit developments in my Ward. For that reason, I am always on the lookout for organizations that have a vested interest in bringing housing projects to my Ward. I have even formed a zoning advisory council that is made up of members of local non-profit community organizations and community representatives to ensure the interests of the residents of the 31st Ward are a priority. I have been working diligently to get a new project started on a much larger scale targeted at seniors and working families.

When interested developers come to my office to present a project, the first statement I make is, “The plans must include affordable on-site units for the working families of the 31st Ward.” I am a firm supporter of the ARO ordinance and its requirements, and I do not budge or make exceptions on projects. The issue of affordability in my Ward is an ongoing struggle and I have made great strides to ensure that working families with low to moderate income stay in the Ward.