Transforming the communities within the 25th district for the better is the basis for which Curtis Tarver II is running for state representative following the retirement of long-time representative Barbara Flynn Currie.
“I decided to run because I believe in the promise of our communities,” said Tarver.
Tarver said pursuing an elected office at the state level appealed to his interest because it would impact not just Chicago but the entire state of Illinois. He is speaking from a bit of experience. While he has not held public office before or ran as a candidate, he did work in former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration in the office of intergovernmental affairs where he worked with local elected officials on issues involving education, health, budget committee, licensing, aviation, and more.
“With this district being entirely within the City of Chicago, it’s great because I have a lot of experience and focus from the mayor’s office on these neighborhoods,” Tarver said.
Although he’s a novice in terms of running for political office, Tarver stated he welcomes the challenge. In fact, he’s glad to see the wave of interested parties running for public offices who would not have considered running previously. If elected, he said he would reach out to Currie for advice as needed.
“I’m actually excited to see the interest in people running for office, particularly people who have never run before,” said Tarver. “I think there’s a general consensus that there’s a time where there’s a fork in the road where people want to be a part of the solution and that’s great.”
Tarver’s background prior to pursuing a state seat was that of an accomplished businessman hailing from the “Second City.” He is the owner of Vice Brewery, 1454 S. Michigan Ave., and co-owner of the law firm Saulter Tarver P.C. Vice Brewery is the first Black-owned and licensed brewery, which opened three years ago. The business will soon expand to include a distribution facility in 2018. For nearly seven years, the law firm has focused on claims involving but not limited to wrongful death, police involved shootings, and civil rights violations, according to Tarver.
Tarver knows all too well how opportunities (or the lack thereof) can shape the lives of people.
“I grew up the same as a lot of other folks with cousins who are either in jail or prison and with friends who’ve been killed, and the one thing that separates myself from them is not that I’m so much smarter than they are, it’s just the opportunities,” said Tarver.
He shared how valuing education not only impacted just his life but the lives of many members of his immediate family.
“Education and labor are the reasons my family is no longer in a housing project,” said Tarver. “My father grew up in the Harold Ickes, my mom grew up in Robert Taylor homes. Both of my maternal and paternal grandmothers had a very solid focus on education.”
Tarver has been involved with a number of non-profit organizations that highlight a host of topics including recidivism. He was formerly on the young professional board for the Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic. He volunteered there working on clemencies, sealing records and the like. He said he’s often hired ex-offenders in part because he recognizes his opportunities in life gave him life choices other people simply did not have. He said he hopes his employees take transferable skills they learn while in his employ to start their own businesses.
Giving attention to areas within the district beyond Hyde Park is a point of interest to Tarver. He said that given that Hyde Park is a beneficiary of the University of Chicago and there isn’t a similar institution in the southern region of the district, efforts to improve the area must be made from “the ground up.”
With regards to the incoming Obama Presidential Library, he said prior to reaching out to the Obama Foundation regarding the library, he would first reach out to the community to understand their needs and desires.
“I would start with the bullet points the community wanted to see first and lay that plan out and then do what I normally do at my practice– negotiate,” said Tarver. “I would practice in give and take; how do we both walk away not elated but nobody would be upset– we would both walk away with something.”
For more information about Curtis Tarver II’s campaign, visit https://www.curtisjtarverii.com/.