James' Story

Read James' personal letter to 45th ward neighbors (pdf)

James is a husband, father, small business owner, true community leader, elected Local School Council member, and active member of the Parent-Teacher Association at his daughter's school. 

James has long been an advocate for the 45th ward, bringing the community together, pushing for common sense solutions on economic development and public safety, and standing up for our community's most vulnerable. 

As alderman, James will bring his strong work ethic to ensure all residents receive efficient and responsive constituent services. James prioritizes fairness, openness, and honesty in all that he does. James will bring his small-business experience, leadership, and even-keeled temperament to introduce new policy ideas to help grow our ward into one of the best places to live, work, and raise a family.

James has lived in the Chicagoland area all of his life, most of it on the Northwest Side.  The son of immigrant parents, James grew up in a modest home in Skokie, adjacent to the northern border of the 45th Ward.  As a kid, James used to ride his bike to Archie's and the former Cut Rate Toys in Edgebrook and he took Korean language lessons at Korean Bethel Presbyterian Church, which is now Eris Brewery in Old Irving Park.

Aside from time away at college, James has lived all of his adult life in Chicago. James attained an undergraduate degree from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Master's Degree in Computer Science at the University of Chicago. After living in Avondale for seven years, James has lived in his current home in the 45th ward since 2013, with his wife and two young children, who attend Chicago Public Schools.

James' parents immigrated from South Korea to Chicago in 1966.  James learned his hard work ethic and problem solving abilities from his father, spending summers working alongside him at his independently owned HVAC business.  James' mother worked for United Airlines for over 20 years as a member of the International Association Machinists and Aerospace Workers union.

James' local minority owned small business is in Portage Park and has operated at that location for over a decade .  As a homeowner and local business owner raising a young family, James is heavily invested in seeing the area grow and thrive.  In 2019, when a $130 million dollar development projected to create 650 union jobs at Six Corners was stalled for an entire year by a local official, James organized nearly 200 concerned neighbors to show up at a family-friendly rally to move the project forward. Following this, James and other neighbors formed a grass-roots organization, advocating for forward-thinking and strategic development in the community. 

As the recent victim of an attempted armed robbery at his local business, James has felt the direct impact of rising crime in the ward. James will advocate for common sense solutions to address crimes occurring today as well as investments to address the root causes of crime for our future.

Beyond economic development, James has stood up for integrity, decency and transparency from our elected officials. When a local official discarded the blankets, food, and other belongings of an unhoused person in January, James took the initiative to meet with the man, understand his needs, and work with neighbors to replace his belongings. When the incumbent alderman removed all of the safety barriers used to protect elementary school children during drop off and pick up because they were using barriers without his name on them, James personally built new sawhorses to donate to the school.  

James is committed to working together to build a stronger and safer community, and his life experiences and track record in the community make him the strongest candidate for the job.