About the Candidate
Name: Rafael “Rafa” Yañez
DOB: Feb. 23, 1979
Family: Married - Wife Leticia Yañez, two teenage children; Rafael Jr and Xitlali Yañez
Occupation: Police Officer (15 years), non-profit leader (11 years)
Political Experience: This is the second time Rafa runs for public office. He ran in 2015 for 15th Ward Alderman when he lost to Lopez in a run-off short of 900 votes. He has also held LSC positions in various LSCs.
Hello, my name is Rafael Yañez. I am a Police Officer, a youth advocate, and community organizer and I am running for Alderman.
As Alderman, I will be a progressive voice for the people of the 15th ward. I will defend working families to remain in their homes. I will protect our schools against more disinvestment and budget cuts, fight to bring more resources for economic development, and advocate tirelessly for our young people. I plan to use my role as alderman to make government accessible and responsive.
As a Chicago Police Officer for the past 15 years and founder of a youth Non-profit Organization, I have seen firsthand what happens when our elected officials don’t invest in our neighborhoods and criminalize black and brown youth. We cannot police our way out of the violence in our city. I am the only police officer who has ever publicly spoken out against the wrongful spending of a 95 million dollar police academy. I have the experience to know what our communities need to prevent the gun violence in our streets.
My plan is to make sure we invest our city’s resources on things that are proven to help reduce violence like education, jobs for our young people and mental health resources. We need to make sure we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and we must protect worker’s right to unionize, so that our middle class doesn’t continue to shrink. We need an alderman with a solid moral compass and with the courage to make decisions that benefit our families, not just the interest of corporations and political bosses.
We, the residents of the 15th ward are tired of politicians who arrogantly ignore our demands, who do the bidding of their political bosses and who are a mockery to public service. It’s time to elect true leadership, a fighter for us and not someone that fights – us – in City Hall. We need a candidate who serves with compassion, who is accessible, who fights for us and who listens – I am that candidate. I humbly ask for your vote on February 26th!
What is your vision for this office?
I am running for alderman in the 15th ward because Brighton Park, Back of the Yards, West Englewood and Gage Park deserve better. These communities are some of the most under resourced neighborhoods in our city with a high index of gun violence and a profuse lack of green space, youth programming and economic development. And yet, in the mist of the violence and scarcity the people of the 15th ward are some of the most caring and resilient people in our city. Because of years of neglect, the communities in our ward are often content with the meager city services that the current alderman provides. It is time, that our communities have a voice in city government who truly represents them and who fights to bring more resources to the ward. I am running for alderman because I want to show people in the ward that an alderman is not just the ward’s janitor. The alderman is first and foremost a representative of the people in the ward and a legislator and as such should work to pass policy that improves people’s lives. Sadly, that is not currently the case in the 15th ward.
The 15th ward is one of the few Black/Brown wards in Chicago, there is a tremendous opportunity to make sure we serve as a model for Black and Brown unity in our city. I hope to use my role as Alderman to uplift the good work of people in the communities that encompass the 15th ward. I want to make sure people feel that their voice matters and when they are engaged and organized they have the power to affect change in their communities. When elected, I plan not only plan to use the office to deliver services and connect people to resources but, to organize people in our communities to be engaged and, to keep me accountable to the needs of our neighborhoods. I also want to chart a bigger limelight on the positive that exists in these communities who are often negatively portrayed in the media.
What is the most pressing issue facing constituents, and how can you help address it?
One of the biggest problems in the 15th ward is the prevalent gun violence. We can talk about violence prevention and all the different restorative justice approaches we can use to prevent gun violence but I believe that the biggest factor behind the violence our city experiences is – the lack of economic opportunities. I believe when people need money to pay bills and to survive, if they do not have the education, job training, and access to good paying jobs; people will turn to crime. Thus, in my opinion the number one thing we need to focus to reduce crime and violence in our neighborhoods is figuring out how to revitalize our business corridors, encourage entrepreneurship amongst our communities, bring investment and capital to the ward. We must also make sure any development in the community brings jobs and benefits to the community through but not limited to CBAs. In addition, I believe we must also make sure our schools are properly resourced to provide the best academic opportunities and job training that is needed for our families to become gainfully employed.