LOGAN SQUARE — A branding professional with ties to local schools is running for alderman in the 35th Ward — a seat now held by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa.
Amanda Yu Dieterich, who lives with her husband and their three children, ages 7, 5 and 18 months, in Logan Square, said she never planned to run for office — she jumped into the race after realizing the community is in need of a leader who is “very invested in the community, someone who has kids in the public schools.”
“We’ve been living in the community for the past decade, and I saw a necessity for us to have elected officials that support our community to flourish and I think it’s important that, in terms of representation, we are truly creating an affordable, accessible Chicago,” Yu Dietrich said.
When Yu Dieterich was nine, a family friend helped her move from her home country of Taiwan to the U.S. From there, Yu Dieterich and her family planted roots in suburban Niles.
She went on to live in the city, specifically in Logan Square, where she started her own branding company with the goal of helping small business owners thrive.
“I’ve seen how hard it is for someone who is coming in with a dream and needing to know how to make that dream come true,” she said.
When she wasn’t working with small business owners, she was volunteering at Monroe Elementary and at the Chicago Community Trust, helping with their “On The Table” series.
As a member of Monroe Elementary’s Local School Council and a parent of Brentano Elementary students, Yu Dieterich said she’s fully committed to creating strong public schools in the ward and throughout the city.
If elected, Yu Dieterich pledges to “always advocate for all of our neighborhood schools.” On the city level, she said she’d fight to reform the district’s per-pupil funding system and advocate for an elected school board.
“I think that it’s very important, as an elected official, we alleviate the burdens that a lot of schools are facing,” she said. “It seems to be very simple, but I think it’s very important to always be engaged, to go to LSC meetings, to meet with the administration and parents and listen to their needs.”
Yu Dieterich also promised to tackle the growing lack of affordability in the ward by implementing new policies such as a low equity co-op and a landlord-tenant program, both of which would match people seeking affordable homes with viable landlords. She said she supports responsible development that brings affordable housing units to the ward.
Ramirez-Rosa, however, maintains he is the best candidate, in large part because he has a proven track record of bringing affordability to the ward and the city as a whole.
Last election, Ramirez-Rosa handily beat then-Ald. Rey Colon, becoming the youngest alderman on the City Council.
“I’m really proud of my track record of passing progressive legislation. I’ve been one of the most progressive aldermen taking on [Mayor] Rahm Emanuel,” he said, pointing to the more than 540 pieces of legislation he has sponsored since taking office in 2015.
Candidates on landlord Fishman’s role in Logan Square
One name keeps popping up in conversations surrounding the 35th Ward race, and it isn’t the name of either candidate.
How Ramirez-Rosa and Yu Dieterich will approach business with controversial landlord Mark Fishman is a question constituents have been asking since Fishman kicked Ramirez-Rosa out of his ward office over a rent dispute.
Since taking office in 2015, Ramirez-Rosa has been a vocal critic of Fishman — one of the most well-known property investors in gentrifying Logan Square. In fact, part of Ramirez-Rosa’s campaign promise was to not let the landlord have his run at Logan Square like his predecessor did.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Fishman and Ramirez-Rosa had been tangled up in a rent dispute that ended with Ramirez-Rosa moving out of Fishman’s building. Fishman alleges Ramirez-Rosa and Guzzardi (D-Chicago) owes more than $42,000 in back rent, while Ramirez-Rosa contends Fishman manufactured the dispute in an effort to have power over him, to “bully and buy him.”
Not long after the eviction, Yu Dieterich received a $5,000 campaign donation from a limited liability corporation associated with M. Fishman Co. Fishman told The Daily Line he has no ownership in the LLC.
Asked about the donation, Yu Dieterich said, “[Ramirez-Rosa] not paying his landlord has nothing to do with me.”
“Whoever contributes to me [has] heard what I believe in, and I’m hoping that means they are willing to be a partner in our community.”
Ramirez-Rosa, however, said voters should see the donation as a red flag. Fishman, he said, made a habit of donating to former 35th Ward Ald. Rey Colon’s campaign and, in turn, “got whatever he wanted.”
“[Constituents] are tired of a system that’s rigged,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “Big landlords can give campaign contributions to get their way when they do things to harm and destroy communities.”
Yet Yu Dieterich doesn’t see anything wrong with accepting donations from Fishman.
“I see myself working with everybody in our community. I think it’s important that everyone in our community who lives here — renters, land owners, business owners — feel like they belong. I am bringing everyone to the table and to solve the issues we’re facing — not just in our community, but in the city as a whole,” she said.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.