Anabel Abarca

12th Ward aldermanic candidate Anabel Abarca


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Essay Questions

1. What are the top issues facing the McKinley Park neighborhood area of your ward, and what are your proposed solutions?

The top three issues, as told to me by voters over the past six months, are

1) Public Safety;

2) Economic Development; and

3) Environmental Justice

1. Public safety is of critical importance. As a homeowner, a woman, and a victim of violence, it is imperative that residents of the 12th Ward know that I am committed to ensuring the safety of all 12th Ward residents.

I believe in a proactive approach to crime which has translated to immediate actions taken within a week of becoming Alderwoman. My office is hosting back to back catalytic converter theft deterrent events in February, free of cost to residents. Further, I will be advocating for expansion of ONE Summer Chicago jobs to youth. I’ll be partnering with local businesses to ensure that these opportunities are available to our youth within a short commute of their homes.

I also believe in a results-driven vision. Thus, I am working on the following initiatives:

  1. Work with CPD to introduce neighborhood “Safety” walks in areas known for activity;
  2. Creating a Youth Council for students from all 12th Ward schools, ages 14 and up, to create programming for our youth. This council would work directly with my office as both an advisory group and participatory activity with goals to promote programming.
  3. Heavily promote the City of Chicago rebate program by helping residents fulfill paperwork that allows them to install security cameras for their home.
  4. Institute Block Clubs per the overwhelming request of residents of McKinley Park. My staff is working to train residents in phone trees and block club practices.
  5. Connect youth to trade unions for direct access to apprenticeships after high school.

2. Economic development is essential to a prosperous and thriving 12th Ward. Disinvestment of the 35th Street corridor has gone on for decades and this has negatively affected the ward as a whole. I am announcing in the coming weeks workshops aimed at small- and first-time business owners for the 12th Ward where they can receive assistance with paperwork and questions. I will be working towards creating a business incubator in the ward for women and minority owned firms to develop amongst peers.

Finally, nothing is more important than our health. As an asthmatic, I know first-hand the difficulties brought upon by living near a highway as well as truck routes. As Alderwoman, I am working with developers and businesses to ensure that they not only comply with environmental regulations but provide transparency in their environmental remediation and mitigation efforts. This means manufacturers and industry coming to the ward will present to the community their specific environmental remediation and mitigation efforts. My experience as Chief of Staff means I am well-versed in zoning changes, planned developments, and community engagement. Further, my Master's of Public Administration focused on environmental proliferation of Superfund sites in minority communities.


2. What are the greatest opportunities for improving the McKinley Park neighborhood and the ward, and how would you work to enable this?

As Alderwoman, it is my duty to represent residents of the entire 12th Ward - McKinley Park and Brighton Park. The two neighborhoods have differing needs but both will have my laser focus on ensuring development is brought equitably.

First, addressing the housing needs of McKinley Park residents. I am a strong supporter of eTOD (equitable Transit Oriented Development) housing and will be focusing on attracting multi-use developments near both Orange line stations. Additionally, expansion of the Accessory Dwelling Unit pilot program to the entire city is a priority. For example, I am fully supportive of a current project on Winchester that is requesting a zoning change to allow for an ADU. This is exactly the kind of zoning actions that McKinley Park needs in order to retain affordable housing.

Second, reducing property taxes. My office currently offers all seniors and homeowners assistance with submitting applications for senior, senior freeze, homeowner, and longtime homeowner exemptions. I have experience with this and appeals due to my work during law school and I am glad to offer this to residents.

Third, ensuring opportunities for seniors and our youth. The creation of a senior center or senior-focused space. During the past few months, dozens of seniors have requested a space for them to congregate. Seniors are an important part of our neighborhood and they deserve a place to get together, enjoy community, and be part of the fabric of McKinley Park. As mentioned above, I am implementing a Youth Council to ensure representation of our youth.

Fourth, bring back the McKinley Park Farmers Market. As Chief of Staff, I worked to bring the Market as a popup. This is a needed resource for our community.

Fifth, the creation of a business incubator. The goal is to create a a business incubator in the ward for women and minority owned firms to develop amongst peers.


3. How will you ensure that your constituents in the McKinley Park neighborhood will have their voices heard and considered in ward decisions?

During my time as a staffer for Congressman Quigley and the Chicago Department of Public Health, I experienced the importance of community input. For these reasons, I am currently implementing weekly ward nights where residents can come to the ward office with community concerns and a dedicated time to discuss with me directly.

Just last week, my office hosted an Open House where over 60+ constituents came to provide valuable input and concerns.

My initiatives for the 12th Ward, some of which are currently in progress, are:

  • Weekly ward nights, in person, to allow residents to discuss their concerns.
  • Regular precinct walks for direct outreach to residents;
  • Creation of a 12th Ward Zoning Council comprised of homeowners, renters, businesses, students, educators, seniors, and land use experts that will review projects and provide guidance;
  • Participatory budgeting for all residents 14-years and older in which residents can submit ideas and then vote on the proposals in order to provide transparency to the Menu process. This will be posted on the Aldermanic Facebook before January 30th.

A publicly available phone number is currently active for all residents to text concerns, comments, and issues. A number of residents have used this service to ask questions, submit service requests, and even have their street lights fixed!


4. After redistricting, the McKinley Park neighborhood is now irregularly chopped up between the 11th and 12th wards. How will you work with your fellow neighboring City Council representative on issues that straddle both wards, such as the revitalization of the 35th Street commercial corridor?

The first action I took as a candidate and Alderwoman was to reach out to neighboring wards, including Ald. Lee of the 11th Ward. Ald. Lee and I spoke as far back as September 2022 to discuss the importance of communication regarding the rezoning of 35th Street.

I have excellent working relationships with Ald. Lee, Ald. Rodriguez, Ald. Lopez, and Ald. Sigcho-Lopez. Progress is not created in a vacuum and I saw to immediately develop relationships with the neighboring wards.

I am currently working with state elected officials such as Rep. Theresa Mah and Sen. Cervantes to host a property tax appeals workshop in February 2023 to ensure that residents have a chance to reduce their tax burden.

Finally, my office and staff has cultivated relationships with over 100 ward businesses to provide resources to the ward such as toy drives, Senior Health Fairs, Back to School fairs with school supplies for over 1200 children, and the upcoming Catalytic Converter Deterrent Event. My office and I are experienced in outreach to local businesses who are thrilled to support my office in order to give back to the residents of the ward.


5. How will you ensure and improve the delivery of City of Chicago services to McKinley Park neighborhood residents and businesses?

First, due to my experience as Aide to Congressman Quigley, I instituted a constituent management service in 2015 for the 12th Ward staff in order to better serve the residents. This system is being utilized by my current staff to ensure that residents receive timely constituent service as well as follow-up by letter, text, or phone call.

Second, all 12th Ward staff are bilingual in either English, Spanish, or Cantonese/Mandarin. I am a native-Spanish speaker and am currently taking Cantonese lessons in order to better assist residents.

Third, as mentioned above, a publicly available phone number is in use for all residents to text concerns, comments, and issues. A number of residents have used this service to ask questions, submit service requests, and even have the street lights fixed. Residents are encouraged to text 312-772-5890. They have found that often, I am the one responding!

Finally, as the daughter of immigrants who opened their own business, I know that it is essential for small businesses to have help. As an attorney, I have done pro bono work to help businesses apply for MBE/WBE certification, licenses, and building issues. I will be putting this to work during monthly small business workshops to ensure they cut through city hall red tape.


6. What past experience, capabilities and capacities make you the best candidate for the job?

I believe my service to the public speaks to my dedication and passion to serving the residents of the 12th Ward.

As a staffer to then-candidate Tammy Duckworth, I quickly gained experience in organizing differing constituent groups across a congressional district for events.

As an Aide to Congressman Quigley, I lead the Latino Outreach initiative which resulted in a Latino Roundtable and establishing connections to over 40+ Latino-focused nonprofits. I maintain connections with many of these organizations including Latinos Progresando.

As Chief of Staff to the former Alderman Cardenas, I led a ward office that serviced 55,000 constituents, introduced ordinances, represented the Latino Caucus and raised money for scholarships for Latino students going to college, advocated during budget hearings, and implemented good governance practices.

As an attorney, I’ve focused on small businesses and pro bono work. I have sat in immigration citizenship tests, consoled domestic violence victims, and worked to ensure Afghan refugees are granted the ability to stay in the US.

Finally, I am one of you. I am the daughter who translated her mom’s documents when paying bills. I am the niece who wrote letters in English to jobs. I am the oldest daughter who takes my auntie to chemo during my lunch hour. I qualified for free-lunch at my CPS school and worked during college and law school. I carry an inhaler, take the Orange line to work, and ride my bicycle around the park. Diplomas and degrees are important, but at my core, I am a resident of McKinley Park and of the 12th Ward. I have spent the past ten years doing clean and greens, attending CAPS meetings, calling in disabled street lights, and helping residents and businesses alike.

As Alderwoman, this is my mission: ensure the 12th Ward brings prosperity and opportunity to all.

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