Candidate for Chicago City Council

About the Candidate

Name: Zerlina A. Smith
DOB: July 1, 1977
Family: Nine-year-old daughter Cherish Smith
Occupation: Light in the Night events coordinator for the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago
Political Experience: Former Illinois regional director for Jill Stein 2016 presidential campaign, former Community Outreach Coordinator for State Rep La Shawn K. Ford 8th District IL, former (LSC) chair for Maria Saucedo Elementary School, Parent leader of Action Now, former Board member of Raise your Hand, Board member and Treasurer of the West Garfield Community Stakeholders Federal Coalition, founder of Mother Who Care Can TV Show family advocate group, former Chairman of the Head Start Policy Committee for CPS and DCFS, former Secretary of Columbus Park advisory committee, Chair of the West side Democracy for America Accountability Chapter and Parents Across America Board Member. Zerlina Smith is the founder of InCrease the Harvest Inc 501c3, a Not-for-Profit and Civic organization.

Candidate Statement

An alderman has to be visible in the community. The alderman has to be accessible when residents of the 29th Ward have issues that need to be addressed. Some residents can’t make it to monthly meetings. I am amazed that our alderman lost focus when it comes to addressing the major issues in the 29th Ward over the past four years. Crime is still prevalent in the same pockets of our ward. Business development is non-existent. Businesses are leaving and few are coming in. This means no jobs for our residents. Our population continues to dwindle. People have lost faith. They seek affordable housing and lower property taxes. When they leave, this impacts the community’s stability. I am Zerlina Smith, a devoted mother and dedicated community advocate. I am active, fighting for better opportunities for our residents all over the ward. I will not get stuck in one precinct. The alderman for this ward cannot get caught in party politics. Our needs are too urgent. This makes no sense, so it is time for a change. Party politics have not served us, and never will. It is time to elect Zerlina for alderman of the 29th Ward. Zerlina will fight for our community and get the job done, just like a devoted mother fights for her children. I am a proven independent leader, who is vigilant and on top of issues and very visible in all sectors of the ward. There are very few issues in our community that I am not on the frontline addressing. You will find me with my bullhorn and with those dedicated to making the 29th ward a better place for all of its residents. Vote for Zerlina on February 26, 2019 or during early voting. Your vote does matter.  The time is now for change.

Candidate Q&A

What is your vision for this office?

I have a progressive vision for our city 29th Ward. I've worked with elected officials as a constituent on a number of issues ranging from ensuring our immigrant communities have the legal resources and knowledge needed to feel safe and secure and full mental health services, to legislating common sense criminal justice reforms, $15wage increase, equality education for all. As a single mother, I am very active with my daughter at community events and organizing within her school. I will build bridges to truly make a “Better 29th Ward” for all of us. I've been not only a problem-solver, but I also cares deeply about each and every person who makes up our district and our city’s 29th ward. I have decades of look creatively at how we address and fund the solutions to the urgent challenges facing our community. I know that, with myself on the City Council, we'll have the opportunity to make a “Better 29th Ward where all are welcome, supported, and heard”.

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

29th Ward Residence First Plan: My First 100 Days in Office

1. Infrastructure

2. Property Tax Freezes

3. City Service

4. Economic Development

5. Multiple State Of The Art Community Centers


a harm-reduction program designed to help youth address issues related to triggers leading to social and legal problems stemming from drug and alcohol use/abuse.


a service for youth displaced from their homes due to family and legal crisis or conflicts, designed to stabilize, intervene, and enhance the family unit.


supportive and culturally-responsive individual, family, and group counseling utilizing art, talk, and behavioral therapies to assist youth in enhancing their strengths.


an after school program for children and youth focusing on positive youth development through recreation, education, and community service.


Is an intensive model of outreach and support that works with justice involved youth ages 8-18 years old. Our model works closely with families and communities providing creative, empowering, and culturally rich programming that incorporates





Working with Nonprofits so they can utilize the following sources of income to help them fulfill their missions:

● Foundation grants

● Government grants and contracts

● Interest from investments

● Loans/program-related investments (PRIs)

● Tax revenue


Adult Basic Education

High School Equivalency Post-secondary educational programming

Addiction and Recovery Management of Mental Health Management

Affordable and Accessible Education: I support high-quality, fully funded public education that is equitable and empowers and respects communities. I support affordable access to public education, from early childhood to college education, that nurtures and provides opportunities to students and families, and supports the development and retention of highly qualified teachers. I believe education is a right that should be afforded to all, regardless of income, immigration status, or ability.

Gender Equality: I do not believe any person should be denied rights or opportunities because of their gender or sexual identity or expression. I support policies to end housing, employment, and health discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community, as well as policies to support survivors of sexual violence. I support enacting policies that ensure every person’s full inclusion and participation in society.

Healthcare: I believe that all people should have access to comprehensive, affordable healthcare, including reproductive health care and abortion care, as well as medically accurate sexual health education. I stand against efforts to restrict access to healthcare and encourage policies that expand health access for all, regardless of income, location, ability, gender, pre-existing condition, or immigration status.

Immigration Justice: I believe in a country that welcomes all immigrants, migrants, and refugees, and commit to making immigrants, regardless of legal status, race, religion, or national origin, safe and welcome in our communities. I believe that our country is stronger because of its diversity and so will stand against attempts to discriminate against immigrants on the basis of national origin, race, or religion. I support policies that reduce cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and policies that improve the conditions of migrants, refugees, and immigrants.

Environmental Justice: I support action at all levels of government to curb climate change, protect clean air and water in our communities, defend public lands, increase energy efficiency and energy access, keep dirty fuels in the ground, invest in clean and renewable energy sources, and regulate harmful pollutants.

Racial Justice: I support equitable treatment of all people, and believe that no one should be denied opportunities or rights because of their race, religion, or ethnic background. We support efforts to ensure that law enforcement and other public institutions treat all individuals equally as well as efforts to reduce mass incarceration. We also support enacting policies that ensure every person’s full inclusion and participation in society.

Economic Justice: I support policies that reduce economic inequality and support economic mobility, including policies to pay a livable and family-sustaining wage, narrow the racial and gender pay gaps, and combat workforce discrimination. I also support worker’s rights to organize and collectively bargain for fairer pay and better working conditions. Our economic system should be fair, fulfill everyone’s basic needs, and should offer opportunity to all regardless of socio-economic status or geography.