Tell Us About Yourself
I became a mom at 14 years old, but education changed my life. I am running for Alderwoman because I want to make sure every kid in Chicago has the same opportunities to succeed that I had.
I was born and raised in the Pilsen Community, and am a proud graduate of three neighborhood Chicago Public Schools (Pilsen, Orozco, and Benito Juarez). I then went on to earn a degree from Georgetown University before returning to my community to serve as a teacher at my alma mater, Benito Juarez. I then attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education and earned an M.Ed in School Leadership because I wanted to learn how to make our public schools even stronger. Upon graduating from Harvard I came back to be an administrator for Chicago Public Schools. My greatest moments have been building relationships and working collectively with the stakeholders of our schools to drastically improve the quality of education from the North to the Southwest of Chicago.
I am running because I know firsthand the transformative power of education. If we give our communities the resources they need to be successful regardless of their obstacles they will thrive. My lived experience in growing up in this community, raising a daughter in Pilsen, and now a four year old son in the community, married with with my professional skill sets and educational training, uniquely position me to hit ground running and to be an independent, positive and strong voice for the much needed Chicago City Council.
Tell us About the Women in Your Life
My mother cried when she found out I was five months pregnant at 13 years old. She cried because of the struggle I would face in parenting and being forced to grow up ahead of my time. In her state of sadness she went to my grandmother who then said, “Why are you crying? She will not be the first nor last and you will need to support and guide her and stop crying.”
My mother provided the support and wisdom to help this teenage mother push through all the challenges and obstacles. Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30. By 30 I had completed my studies at Georgetown University and received two Masters degrees from National-Louis and Harvard and became a homeowner in my community.
While my mother has been the most influential woman in my life my two oldest sisters have served as part of the village who have ensured the collective success of my family. My oldest sister Areli became my academic parent when she dropped me off in college and would remind me that I belonged in the elite academic institutions. My sister Lizbeth has been the guiding force whenever I ventured into new journeys from buying my first car, purchasing my home, and launching my campaign for public office. My “Why” and the key figure in fighting to make the world a better place for her and for women is my daughter Deztinee who came into the world on the last Christmas of the century. While the women in my immediate family have been the most influential in my life I have been fortunate to cross paths with women who have become professional mentors and guiding forces in my journey.
Tell us About Your Ward
The 25th ward is rich in history, culture, and diversity. It encompasses Pilsen, Chinatown, West Loop, ABLA Homes, and sections of South Loop, Little Italy, and McKinley Park. Each part of the ward has their respective individual needs and share some commonalities with the rest of Chicago. Presently, education, affordable housing, and development are at the forefront of our concerns. The ward requires a independent, innovative, and compassionate public servant who has the management and leadership experience to hit the ground running on the first day.
How will you ensure that students in all parts of the city have access to quality and safe education while taking into consideration changing population and the impact of that?
As a student of Chicago Public Schools, a parent of kids who go to Chicago Public Schools, and as a teacher and school administrator for Chicago Public Schools, I have unique insight into this issue because I have seen it from almost every angle. First and foremost, I would ensure that our schools receive the funding they need in order to be successful. But in addition to that, I plan to provide hands on, robust support for our community schools by working in collaboration with teachers and administrators to enrich the experiences of both students and teachers through partnerships with businesses, the medical district, and community organizations. Our declining enrollment problem can be best addressed by ensuring our public schools again become the first choice for families to send their kids. Our city government should work with the Pilsen Task Force to support the specialization of our neighborhood schools, proper training for our teachers, curricular resources, and infrastructural improvements to enhance the student learning experience.
I would also work to specialize one of our schools to integrate a dual-language public Montessori program because I have seen its success first hand as a former parent of a student of Suder Montessori. I will work in collaboration with other progressive leaders to push for an elected school board and provide guidance and leadership to have proper representation of parents and people of color on the council, given the fact that the majority of our district are African American and Latino students.
What is your plan to address the challenges that Chicago’s water infrastructure system faces? How will you work towards providing safe, accessible, and affordable water service to Chicago residents?
Access to water is a human right, and I do not support the privatization of this public utility. Because of Chicago’s long-standing problems with lead pipes, I would advocate for a plan that begins to systematically replace lead service pipes that are on public land, and I would work to conduct an analysis of and develop a plan to address the lead service lines that are on private areas.
What are your thoughts on continuing the use of the list and, if you believe it should continue to be used, should there be changes to how the list is kept and are there ways the City of Chicago can increase confidence in the accuracy of the list?
As a school leader accountability and organization is important, maintaining the list of women and minority owned business is necessary and should be further enhanced by ensuring accuracy and oversight. Expanding the role of the Inspector General’s office to improve this is list by verifying ownership and working with local stakeholders will ensure the proper oversight. Additionally, as a hands on leader I will actively engage and seek guidance from the experts women and minority owned business owners to enhance the support like facilitating permit process through an online portal, working on progressive violation system, and workshops on key needs such as branding, marketing, and grant support.
Recognizing that the issues surrounding safety are complex and multi-pronged, what is your highest priority with relating to safety of your ward’s residents and who are you receiving advice from to address that priority?
I view the consent decree as a floor for what we should expect from our police department. As a member of City Council, I will focus on shifting the culture towards community policing by working to improve block clubs, community centers, and ensuring social spaces like libraries, parks, and landmarks are intentional in bringing the community together.
I will advocate for police officers to be permanently assigned to a specific district so that they will have an opportunity to develop productive relationships with both community leaders and all citizens. I will also insist that police districts in our communities present a State of the District on a regular basis. I will also advocate for our police officers to have cultural training, but more importantly, to recruit police officers from the communities that they are policing so our officers truly understand and love the communities they serve.
I put my name in the race when I dropped off my daughter at college in August 2018. I sat my family down and discussed the decision to enter this public space to lead the ward toward positive change because our community has been further fragmented, disinvested in, and disillusioned by Chicago’s antiquated systems of governing that are plagued by corruption. The 25th ward needs an alderwoman who will lead with love. In electing me, Aida Flores, for the 25th Ward voters will be bringing an independent, bold, and inspirational voice into the council and I will proudly be the first woman to lead the 25th ward.