Alderman John Arena, a resident of Portage Park since 1996, was a successful small business owner and worked in the advertising industry before running for Alderman in 2011. Together with his wife Jill, they have raised their family on the northwest side, sending their two children to public schools and supporting our local stores. It is love for this community, and his belief that it could be revitalized that prompted his interest in joining, and later becoming vice president of, the Portage Park Association and ultimately led to his decision to run for Alderman.
The grassroots political movement in this country that was seeking transparency in government decision-making inspired John. He continues to believe that a healthy community is characterized by a shared responsibility for safety, education, and prosperity. An informed public will make better decisions and can better hold their politicians accountable for their actions.
John is a member of the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus and a strong voice on the Chicago City Council. His support of ethics reform, government transparency, and fiscal accountability has set him apart as an independent voice in Chicago.
Alderman Arena placed a referendum on the ballot for an elected school board. In 2016, he spearheaded the Debt Transparency, Accountability and Performance (DTAP) ordinance. This ordinance 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.
John’s accomplishments in his first 6 years include:
- 80 new businesses
- 15 new restaurants
- 2 new theatre companies
- 3 new dance companies
- 98 units of senior housing
- (3) Transit-Oriented-Development projects
- Creating and implementation of community informed Master Plans for both Six Corners and Jefferson Park
- Support of public schools and parks
- 6 new playgrounds
- Structural improvements to our school and park buildings
- Support of teachers and fair funding for neighborhood schools
- Bike-friendly street including bike lanes, corrals, and awareness
- Additional cultural and social events including, but not limited to:
- Holiday celebrations and decorations
- New public art including murals and sculptures
- Participatory Budgeting Process