Jose Rico, the candidate for 12th Ward Alderman, released “Heal Our People, Change Our City Council: A Comprehensive Plan for the 12th Ward.”

The policy platform gets to the heart of the fact that Chicago neighborhoods
persistently experiencing disproportionately high levels of violence are, more often than not, marginalized and working-class neighborhoods.

“This plan outlines the investment needed to get to the root cause of the violence that rips through families and communities as a result of segregation, disinvestment and neglect,” said Rico, whose ward had more than 1,000 violent incidents in 2017. “Trauma that has gripped our city is the highest priority for the people in my ward and a matter of serious concern for all Chicagoans.”

The plan includes a proposal to expand mental health services in Chicago, an issue Rico is all too familiar with. In 2018, his son was shot at while he was walking home after a night class. Fortunately, he was not struck but the long-term effect of that traumatic event led to sleepless nights, poor grades and depression. The mental health clinics Rico took his son to had a wait list of a year, due to the volume of cases and the lack of facilities to seek care.

Rico is running against 16-year incumbent Alderman George Cardenas, who was the head of the City Council’s mental health committee when the city closed mental health clinics.

“We are in a historic moment where we can elect a City Council that will make our neighbors the group we serve, uplift and are accountable to,” Rico said. “We need elected officials to address the most important issues facing our neighbors across the street and across the city. Together, we can ensure that city government and the 12th Ward office invest in the real needs of our families and communities.

Part of Rico’s plan includes expanding the concept of healing centers to
establish and build an infrastructure that would include social workers,
psychologists, conflict mediators, mental health counselors, and drug treatment counselors.

These wrap around health care services would help ensure early identification and provision of quality, affordable, therapy and support to address trauma and anxiety and to enhance coping skills.