Creating a Safer Chicago

Hi, I’m Brad!

I am running to represent the 18th District in the Chicago Police District Council.

My wife, Hayley, and I were born and raised in the city of Chicago. To us—and our two young children—Chicago is home, and we could not imagine raising our children anywhere else. But like many of you, we are worried about our family’s safety. 

While crime has increased, the number of police officers in our district has been steadily declining. The 18th District is so short-staffed and spread thin that effective community policing has become nearly impossible. 

There are several reasons driving our increase in crime, and our 18th District Police Officers need our collective support. 

421
We have gone from 421 officers in 2018 to roughly 316 officers as of this month. 

The 18th District is responsible for so many wonderful public spaces and diverse points of interest–such as the many parks, schools, Lincoln Park Zoo, North Avenue Beach, Michigan Avenue, Northwestern Hospital, Lurie’s Children’s Hospital, Navy Pier, and more. While these spaces help create such an incredible Chicago, they often require a large number of officers from the 18th district police force. This often leaves our neighborhoods without the support and regular beat patrol needed to prevent car-jackings, robberies, shop-lifting, and other crimes that are becoming increasingly common in residential areas.

The 18th District Community Partnership Appreciation Award

Brad was awarded the 18th District Community Partnership Appreciation Award by Commander Hein and Sargeant Schenk in appreciation for his efforts to improve safety in the 18th District.

Hi, I’m Brad!

My wife, Hayley, and I were born and raised in the city of Chicago. To us—and our two young children—Chicago is home, and we could not imagine raising our children anywhere else. But like many of you, we are worried about our family’s safety. It has always been against my very nature to stand by and do nothing as things around me get worse. As the city faces new waves of crime and an uncertain policing landscape, I am ready to continue to roll up my sleeves to improve our city.

Growing up, I witnessed a Chicago that frequently battled crime, including areas of the 18th district. I attended the Lasalle Language Academy, a Chicago Public School in Old Town, for elementary school. I went to LaSalle in the late 1980s–mid 1990s, at a time when crime was rampant throughout the city.  I quickly became aware of two very different worlds—one inside the walls of LaSalle, a wonderful, diverse school where all of us became friends through our commonalities, and one outside the building, where we went home to different neighborhoods with different experiences. The Chicago I went home to was one in which my community, family, and city provided me with great opportunities. My friends, many of whom came from lower income communities, saw Chicago as a place that binds and closes one’s imagination and possibilities.

I believed in the potential for a better city, and I still do.

Throughout my career, I have taken every possible opportunity to work with countless advocates and dedicated civil servants to improve areas of the city. My many years of work and field-tested expertise with supporting our youth have prepared me to competently advocate on behalf of our district’s safety at this time of crisis.

I am a licensed attorney, having graduated from Northwestern Law School in 2009.

After graduating from law school, I led Chicago Public Schools’ anti-violence task force, in which we developed and launched three initiatives focused on reducing gang violence: Culture of Calm (which implemented several initiatives, such as restorative justice and in-school suspension, within 40 high schools), Safe Passage (which supports student safety through safe walking routes between gang boundaries), and wrap-around mentoring for 10,000 students most at risk of becoming victims of gun violence. We tracked considerable progress through these initiatives, with many high schools still utilizing the programs that we implemented across the school district.  Our success was the direct result of focusing resources, utilizing proven intervention and restorative justice approaches, and collaborating regularly with CPD, CPS, local religious institutions, businesses, and community leaders, and several other city, county, and state agencies and organizations. No solution to a problem of this size can be solved without a fundamental belief in collaboration.

For the past 7 years—and counting—I have co-led a locally-headquartered education business, Academic Approach. We work with schools and students from all socio-economic backgrounds across Chicago and the country. While we are known throughout the 18thdistrict for our 1-on-1 tutoring services, we are even more widely known throughout the Chicago Public Schools in the south and west sides where we provide in-depth support for teachers and students.

In many ways, Lincoln Park High School (one of our district’s high schools) represents the obstacles and opportunities that we face when trying to reach our community’s children. As an elected community representative on the Local School Council for Lincoln Park High School, I primarily focus on the school’s safety strategy, help oversee the facilities, and provide oversight of the school’s budget. Last year, our high school students—like elsewhere in Chicago—struggled with a lack of mental health support and safety. They needed to be better cared for, and in turn, they needed to show up to school ready to learn. This year, we invested in social-emotional support so that students feel better cared for and teachers have the support in the classroom to continue to excel in their instruction. We also invested in restorative discipline so that students better understand our expectations while also being kept within our school community and not pushed away. As a result, we have seen positive impacts on students’ mental health and an increase in student safety.

While faced with the complex goal of making this school safer, we not only created a multidisciplinary strategy, but also implemented concrete programs and foundational changes to the approach inside one of the most socio-economically and racially diverse high schools in the country. Our police district’s issues are complex and robust, and require that level of thoughtfulness, inspiration, planning, and execution.

As elected director of my Lincoln Park neighborhood association, I am closely involved in overseeing our neighborhood safety strategy. I am also a member of the Old Town Triangle Association Safety Committee, and I serve on the advisory board of the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, a multi-disciplinary center that brings together child-protection, law enforcement, and healing services to respond to, treat, and prevent child abuse.

But my most important roles are those of husband to my wife, Dr. Hayley Silver, and father to our two young, adorable children. The love I have for my community and my city are only compounded by the love I have for my family. I think that this is what drives all of us to strive for a better Chicago—the fundamental need to guarantee our children an environment that provides them with opportunities and keeps them safe.

I firmly believe that creating a safer Chicago is reliant upon our schools, our police, our park district, our CTA, our public housing, our healthcare system, our support for parents, and countless other factors that set the tone for how our city operates. I will bring my purposeful voice and emphasis on collaboration to our support of local police, and beyond, to our City’s over-arching safety strategy. We need people who have the vision, creativity, and knowledge on implementing and supporting our communities to invest in everyone’s future, and I humbly ask you to support me as I continue to work on behalf of our community’s safety.

Thank you for your support
Brad Kessler