James Suh is a proud lifelong resident of Chicagoland's northwest side, a small business owner and an active community member serving as an elected member of the Local School Council and Partner Teacher Association at Disney II Elementary School. As Alderman, James will prioritize public safety, investments into our communities, equitable economic development throughout the ward, and running an ethical, transparent, and professional ward office.
Read James' personal letter to 45th ward neighbors (open pdf):
My name is James Suh. I am a proud lifelong resident of Chicagoland’s northwest side, a small business owner, and an active community member serving as an elected member of the Local School Council and Parent Teacher Association at Disney II Elementary School. While I’ve spoken with many of you at your doors, I know I won’t reach everyone, and I wanted to share why I am running to be the 45th Ward Alderman. I hope I will earn your support in the Chicago election on Tuesday, February 28.
I am challenging the incumbent, Alderman Jim Gardiner, along with four other candidates in the race. While I believe Mr. Gardiner when he says he cares about our community, there are vast differences in our approaches to working with others and handling local issues. I disagree with Mr. Gardiner’s confrontational approach towards folks with different opinions than his own and how he retaliated against constituents who disagreed with him.
There are many qualified candidates on the ballot; however, I am the only candidate with experience running a service-oriented local small business, technology expertise to streamline and improve efficiencies in the ward service office, and a track record of bringing community members together around shared concerns and getting results.
My Personal Story
In 1966, my parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea to make a better life for my two older sisters, twin brother, and me. I grew up across the street from the new ward boundaries, riding my bike up to Devon Avenue to visit stores in Edgebrook and Wildwood. My mother worked for United Airlines as a member of the IAMAW 141 union. My father taught me to work with my hands. From a young age, I accompanied him to work over every summer break at his independently-owned HVAC business.
I earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. My education, along with my strong work ethic and problem-solving abilities—learned from my parents’ leading example—have allowed me to help businesses and foundations build stronger organizations using technology.
While working at the Joyce Foundation, an organization that supports policy research and advocacy for democratic reform, gun violence prevention, and education and economic mobility, I managed their technology infrastructure, enabling staff to better collaborate and fulfill their mission.
My wife and I have a young son and a school-age daughter who attends a CPS elementary school. In 2013, shortly after our daughter was born, we moved into our Old Irving Park home, and I started a small business, a hand carwash at Cicero & Addison. I have run this business successfully over the past decade by always focusing on the importance of customer service and being responsive to the community’s needs.
What is at stake in this race?
What I hear every day is residents are concerned with public safety, a lack of economic development, and an absence of community engagement and transparency in local development decisions. The issue of public safety is a deeply personal issue to me, as I am sure it is to you. This past fall, I was a victim of an attempted armed robbery. This experience reinforced that public safety must be a top concern for our alderperson. As alderman, I will prioritize fully funding our public safety infrastructure which includes not only the police but also our mental health services and substance abuse programs that can shift the burden away from our overworked officers. This allows police to stay focused on addressing dangerous and violent crimes.
We need a change in leadership in our ward because residents should be confident they will receive the quality services they deserve. The current administration lacks vision and has created contentious relationships with developers, businesses, and the community. The delivery of city services has been politicized. News stories featuring our ward are often embarrassing and demonstrate our current alderman has not remained focused on community concerns.
Our community deserves better. Right now, our business corridors are littered with empty storefronts. Our main thoroughfares have featured vacant lots for more than a decade. We must do much more to attract businesses and create jobs while improving safety in our communities, the quality of our schools, and access to city services.
I firmly believe in taking action and working with others to make change happen, and I am proud of what we’ ve already accomplished together as a community. When Mr. Gardiner ignored overwhelming public support for a $130 million mixed-purpose development at Six Corners and obstructed progress on this project, I worked with community members to organize a rally that ultimately moved the project forward. We were victorious and eventually helped create hundreds of union jobs.
Working with other dedicated parents, I recently organized a successful first annual “Fun Run” fundraiser at my daughter’s public elementary school, raising funds for the school’s art, music, and technology programs.
I genuinely believe that we will move our community forward by working together to address shared concerns. In that spirit, I will re-introduce Participatory Budgeting to give residents a direct voice in local investments. Additionally, I will form Community Advisory Councils to empower residents to use their knowledge and experiences to impact both local development and policy in city hall.
This ward needs a leader with a professional temperament and demonstrated history of working with others to solve problems. Residents want a leader who will move beyond the divisiveness of the past, advocate for all areas in the ward, and represent our shared values.
For more information or questions, please visit www.suhfor45.com, call or text me at (312) 588-9059, or email me directly at James@suhfor45.com.
If you share my belief that we are better and stronger as a community when we lead based on our values and our shared concerns, then I humbly ask for your vote on Tuesday, February 28.
Yours in service,