About the Candidate
Name: Nicole Johnson
DOB: Oct. 31, 1989
Occupation: Education and community development consultant. Currently full-time candidate for alderman of the 20th Ward.
Political Experience: Although I have worked for candidates and in several public policy campaigns, this is my first run for political office.
I’m Nicole Johnson and I’m running for 20th Ward alderman.
While setting up my campaign office at 55th & Halsted, I learned that area of the 20th Ward doesn’t have any internet access. Imagine in 2019 that more than half of Englewood households don’t have internet access at home.
We live in one of the nation’s largest cities, yet some of Chicago’s students, prospective workers and residents don’t have equal access to information, resources, job applications or everyday conveniences. With these kinds of inequities how do we as a city expect residents in my ward to have access to the best schools, a nearby business, a job interview or to simply find an answer to a question.
This is what people mean by a Tale of Two Cities. One side of town has everything imaginable, while other parts of town don’t have the basics.
I’m running for 20th Ward alderman, because we deserve better. We deserve exceptional schools. We deserve economic opportunities and we deserve safe communities.
Chicago is at a crossroads. We can choose to elect candidates who’ll go along to get along, who are content to preside over the status quo, or who aren’t afraid to call out inequities when we see them.
As an elementary school math teacher, I believe schools should serve both the educational and social needs of a community. For a community to be prosperous, I believe we should add to the existing assets, not subtract from them. And I believe we need a comprehensive approach to addressing violence in our communities—that includes living wage jobs, an independent community oversight board to ensure real police reform, and infrastructure investment that closes the digital divide.
This election is too important to sit out. Punch 61 for Nicole Johnson and make Chicago a city that works for everyone. We deserve it.
What is your vision for this office?
Too many times I have met people who are asking themselves whether or not they can afford to live in Chicago, whether the question they are confronting is their safety, their finances or their child’s access to quality education. This didn’t happen overnight-it’s the end result of broken promises, bad priorities and a lack of accountability.
I envision a Chicago that is responsive to its neighborhoods and that is based on transparency and honesty and is not run based on special interests and career politicians. Where we pay our bills, protect our citizens and value neighborhood schools.
What is the most pressing issue facing constituents, and how can you help address it?
I see the 2019 municipal elections as an exceptional opportunity for long neglected residents to reclaim their neighborhoods and wield equitable influence in Chicago as a whole. Growing up in a grotesquely disenfranchised, underserved community taught me the importance of exercising our power for self-determination. Consequently, I have devoted my professional development, civic engagement, neighborhood advocacy and research to identifying strengths my ward can build on and the missing resources needed to progress. That, along with my college degrees in political science and education policy, contribute to my unique vision of what’s possible.
I see seldom‐appreciated connections between regional opportunities for the long term and current day‐to‐day challenges that threaten the very survival of wards like mine. This enables me to look beyond the usual “remedies” that rely on public programs or regressive revenue sources that make underserved areas more dependent and less viable. I will fight for truly progressive strategies that leave my neighbors stronger ‐‐ such as land trusts to mitigate the impact of potential gentrification, or programs that link local education institutions, youth, displaced and unemployed workers with the wealth of jobs created during and after construction of the South Suburban Airport.
On a social level, all that means ensuring constituent involvement in such key issues as affordable housing, real estate rights and development. Before and during my campaign, I talked with ward residents about strategies for neighborhood self‐determination regarding such issues. Our campaign created a civic engagement series called, “Let’s Talk about it.” This past August, our campaign hosted a workshop to support residents to provide feedback on the recent recommendations. In September, we held a workshop for residents to learn about the various budget documents, so they can participate in the budget conversations once it was released in October. As an educator, it is important for me to provide resources to amplify my constituents’ capacity to be civically engaged – and, when in office ‐‐ keep me on my toes.