Candidate for Chicago City Council

About the Candidate

Name: Rossana Rodríguez Sanchez
DOB: Nov. 13, 1978
Family: I live with my partner Bob, son Marcel, mother Eva (who was forced out of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria), and terrier Louie. I have family in Puerto Rico, as well.
Occupation: Youth Development Specialist, Community Artist, College Guidance Counselor, Organizer, Columbia College.
Political Experience: Movement Leader Fellow, United Working Families (2018)
Co-Founder and Member, 33rd Ward Working Families IPO (2015-present)
Volunteer, Tim Meegan for 33rd Ward Alderman (2014-15)

Candidate Statement

I’m Rossana Rodriguez. I’m an educator, a community activist, and a mother to a son who just started pre-K at his neighborhood school.

When I came to Chicago from Puerto Rico ten years ago, I joined the Albany Park Theater Project and had the opportunity to tell the stories of people in my neighborhood. I heard the stories of families facing evictions, deportations, and school closings. Struggling to put food on the table, but working, dreaming, and creating their home here. We learn so much about each other when we stop and when we listen.

I see a city rich in resources, but those resources are going to the rich and well connected, not the city’s working families.

Politicians are building a city for the few. We need neighborhoods for the many.

I like to imagine the city we could create with the resources we need, what a just city would look like for my son. I am raising my child here, in one of the most diverse communities in this country, and because of it one of the most beautiful as well.

I want immigrants, seniors, and all working people to know they have a place in the 33rd Ward. That’s why I’ve stood with immigrant families facing the threat of deportation. I’ve stood with longtime residents threatened with eviction by big developers. That’s why I have been organizing with my neighbors for rent control -- to keep our neighborhoods affordable and our communities in place. And that’s why I walked the picket lines with striking teachers to win a contract that puts our students before profits.

We need to build a Chicago that is just and equitable. Where our schools are fully funded, our water is safe to drink, and where everyone has a say in the issues that affect their lives.

I know what is possible when people come together. I’ve seen it firsthand through the work I’ve been doing my whole life. A better city is ours to win.

I am Rossana Rodriguez and I am running for alderman of the 33rd ward.

Candidate Q&A

What is your vision for this office?

I believe in building power from the bottom up, and so my platform calls for measures to make the ward more democratic and the powers of the office accessible to regular people. During my time in Albany Park, I have deepened my connections with my community through my organizing work in the neighborhood and the campaigns we’ve waged alongside groups such as the Autonomous Tenants Union, a tenants rights organization fighting evictions, and the Albany Park Defense Network, which we helped to launch along with community partners following Donald Trump’s election. My relationship with the movements for justice has brought me close to many others who are making this ward such a special place to live-- teachers in our neighborhood schools, members of the local church, and the neighbors who give their time and heart to build a better future for all of us.

I want to bring this collective, movement building spirit to public office. I want to establish a dedicated community organizing space so that ward residents have a place to come together and organize for solutions with each other. I want to implement a participatory budgeting and community-driven development process so that neighbors, rather than just the alderman’s office, have a role in decisions that affect our lives.

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

Three years ago, I became the mother to my beautiful son, Marcel, for whom this ward is not just his home but his world. He goes to the public library and to the public parks and plays with children of all races and of all backgrounds, children who speak a spectrum of languages. Raising my child in Albany Park means that no one is foreign to him. I want Marcel to continue to grow up where the whole world is his neighbor.

But I see my ward changing in ways that threaten this diversity: Rising rents and evictions spurred on by an alliance between big developers and the alderman are making families leave. Loopholes in the Welcoming City ordinance are threatening immigrant residents at risk of deportation. And cuts to public services and attacks on working-class living standards by the rich and the powerful are pushing out the multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-lingual working families that make my ward and our city a beautiful place to live.

I believe in protecting and expanding affordable housing, standing with working-class families as they fight for a living wage, and defending immigrants from deportation and displacement. Without these things in place, we’ll continue to lose the people who make this ward so special.

We don’t have the support of the alderman for the things that we need. Whether it’s siding with the mayor on schemes such as the unneeded $95 million police academy, or siding with developers in evicting our neighbors, she has stood for an an agenda that has put the rich and powerful few above the many.

Since the last aldermanic election, in which Ald. Mell clung to her seat by just 17 votes, I have been a part of a ward organization, 33rd Ward Working Families, which I helped co-found. Our independent political organization has been active in the movements for rent control, immigrant rights, education justice, tenants rights, and community empowerment. We believe that a city for the many, rather than for a rich and powerful few, will be won through organized people and collective power—and that those are the things an aldermanic office should stand for and work toward creating.