John Arena has served as Alderman of the 45th Ward since being elected in 2011. Alderman Arena and his family have lived on the Northwest Side since 1996, and we was a successful small business owner before running for alderman. With his wife Jill, they have raised their family in Portage Park, sending their two children to public schools and supporting local businesses. As alderman, he has prioritized the revitalization of the local economy and bringing resources to the public schools in our neighborhoods. He is also a founding member of the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus.
Alderman Arena placed a referendum on the ballot for an elected school board and spearheaded the Debt Transparency, Accountability and Performance (DTAP) ordinance in 2016, which was designed to create oversight and transparency for interest rate swaps and other variable rate financing interments. He also voted against the Mayor’s position on the Infrastructure Trust Fund, speed cameras, digital billboards and the food truck ordinance. His votes against three of the last 5 city budgets has been driven by a clear set of priorities based in funding for education, public safety, and fiscal responsibility.
Alderman Arena’s clear support of ethics reform, government transparency, and fiscal accountability have set him apart as a strong, independent voice on the Chicago City Council. In 2017, it earned him the IVI-IPO Leon Despres Award.
As alderman, John Arena has:
- Secured more than $40 million for 45th Ward schools
- Boosted the local economy by recruiting over 100 new businesses and securing millions in small business improvement funds
- Worked with City Hall to bring $100 million in infrastructure improvements to the 45th Ward
- Placed a referendum on the ballot for an elected school board
- Created a responsive and open ward office
- Facilitated the creation and implementation of community-informed Master Plans for both Six Corners and Jefferson Park
- Helped fund playgrounds at Foster-Austin, Roberts Square, Grace Zwiefka Thuis, Ashmore, and Independence parks, as well as a new tennis court at Wilson Park
- Secured funding for a new Independence Park Branch library
- Supported teachers and fair funding for neighborhood schools
- Funded 20 projects throughout the ward through the participatory budgeting process, which gives 45th Ward residents decision-making power in how their tax dollars are spent
- Ushered in public art, including murals and sculptures
- Passed substantive legislation to improve the quality of life for all Chicagoans, including fair labor laws, fiscal accountability, and ethics reform