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Yumi Ross: Candidate For Highland Park City Council – Patch.com

Yumi Ross: Candidate For Highland Park City Council – Patch.com

HIGHLAND PARK, IL — Ahead of the April 6 consolidated municipal elections, Highland Park Patch provided questionnaires to all candidates on the ballot. Six candidates are seeking three available seats on the Highland Park City Council. Only one of the three incumbents with an expiring term in office is running for re-election. Highland Park Patch

HIGHLAND PARK, IL — Ahead of the April 6 consolidated municipal elections, Highland Park Patch provided questionnaires to all candidates on the ballot.

Six candidates are seeking three available seats on the Highland Park City Council. Only one of the three incumbents with an expiring term in office is running for re-election.

Highland Park Patch is publishing all responses submitted by candidates verbatim and in the order they have been received.

Yumi Ross

Age (as of Election Day)

City of Residence
Highland Park

Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
Not currently.

I earned my Masters in Architecture degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and my Bachelor of Arts degree from Bryn Mawr College where I majored in Growth and Structure of Cities.

Architect since 1993

Campaign website

Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office
Elected D112 Board of Education member (2011-2019)

The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.

The single most pressing issue facing City Council are the challenges around the pandemic and its terrible impact on residents and businesses —many stores located in Highland Park were already struggling before the onset of this health crisis. It is critical that we help revitalize the business district. I plan to reach out as much as possible to find out what specific measures residents and business owners feel will help most.

Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?

As a half-Asian woman, I have had personal experience with racism. I support the Black Lives Matter movement and understand the anger and frustration at the lack of racial equity progress that many feel. I believe in peaceful demonstrations and continuing dialogue, and action, in order to effect positive change.

Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?

Mayor Rotering has spoken about support for these issues during meetings and I am confident that she and city hall care about racial equality. But, I strongly believe that it is critically important to have minorities, such as myself, at the Council table. Not only can I offer the perspective of my own life experiences but it would send a powerful message to our community that there is diverse representation on Council itself. And, children in our community will be able to look at Council and SEE diverse representatives leading our city which could eave a lasting impression on them regarding what leaders can look like. To help make progress on racism, to further the goals of racial equality, it is important that government and businesses have minorities and people of color at the table of leadership.

What are your thoughts on the national and local coronavirus response? Do you favor measures such as limiting operation of non-essential businesses and restricting indoor/outdoor dining? And do you favor a local mask mandate?

My thoughts on the overall governmental response to the pandemic is that it has been tragically inadequate. Things are improving now that there is a coordinated federal response to coronavirus but the rollout of the vaccine needs to be greatly improved and accelerated.
I feel businesses need to be supported as much as possible, nonetheless, I also believe in a rigorous science and fact-based approach to decision-making around limiting operations of non-essential services as well as indoor/outdoor dining. The longer it takes to get the pandemic under control, the longer it will take for residents to feel safe again and for businesses to recover.
Yes, I support a local mask mandate. Even if the vaccine rollout improves (it must) mask wearing will have to continue for a long time to come. We KNOW from our medical experts that mask wearing greatly reduces both transmission and one’s chances of catching the virus.

What are your thoughts on the state and local coronavirus vaccine distribution, and how do you think local governments should work together to handle vaccine rollout?

Sadly, the vaccine distribution has not worked adequately thus far, I do not know anyone, including health professionals, who believes that it has gone well. It must be a TOP priority for national and local governments to work as closely as possible together to roll out the vaccine, especially to reach the elderly, those who are immune compromised, and the entire population, as soon as possible.

We need many more vials of vaccine, many more people trained to inject it, many more vaccination sites and our government needs to marshal as many resources as possible to fight COVID-19. I will do whatever I can to help with this effort if elected to Council.

What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

The critical differences:
—I am an architect who can bring my experience and problem solving skills to project development in Highland Park including scale, proportion and appropriateness.
—As a recent past D112 school board member who serves on D112 Education Foundation and is co-President of D113 Education Foundation I continue to be engaged in both of our school districts
—I am deeply involved in the arts, I serve on the Board of Directors’s Executive Committee of The Art Center of Highland Park, I am also a long time board member at the Museum of Contemporary Art, serve on the board of CPS Lives which brings top Chicago artists into public schools, and on the architecture and design board of the Art Institute of Chicago (until last year when the AIC dissolved many of its support organizations). I have great contacts in the arts which I will leverage to help revitalize Highland Park, the arts are proven economic multipliers.

If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)

A colleague on D112 school board told me that I stand on principle but am also a team player. I always do my best to look at how I can work collaboratively with everyone I work with so I try to speak to what I will bring to Council, not focus on mistakes I feel anyone has made. I look optimistically to the future! But, I can share this: if I am fortunate to be elected to Council, I will work hard at listening to what community members, including residents and business owners, feel they need in terms of support from our city and will closely examine how the city can do better. I am known by everyone who has worked with me, including the Foundations and The Art Center, as being a very hard worker who gives my all to everything I do. As a councilperson I will work towards continuous improvement. Highland Park businesses and organizations need as much help as the city can offer, we must attract and encourage more companies to establish themselves here and support them as much as possible once they do.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform

Again, I bring my architecture background, my service in both school districts and throughout the community, as well as my background in the arts which as a councilperson I will leverage to help Highland Park.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

Serving on D112 school board from 2011-2019 I encountered and dealt with some of the biggest challenges the district and our community have ever faced —at least before the pandemic. D112 was and is still dealing with reconfiguration and sustainability issues. We did our best during difficult times, our most important job was to hire current Superintendent Dr. Lubelfeld. As a BOE member, I took on many liaison roles including serving as board representative to North Suburban Special Education District (NSSED) so for a few years I simultaneously served on a second full school board. I served at NSSED at a time when the D112 superintendent was considering withdrawing D112 from NSSED. During these discussions, I helped keep relations with the other 17 school districts in the cooperative cordial and collegial. D112 ultimately remained a member —the best outcome for both districts. I also served as liaison to our city’s Human Relations Commission, to Community the Anti-Drug, and to D112 Education Foundation (I am now a regular board member). I am a co-founder of the Reel 112 Film Festival which annually screens D112 student-made films in a real movie theatre (pre-pandemic), a beautiful and successful partnership between the D112 Education Foundation and the school district.
I work extremely hard and I believe that those who worked with me feel I made excellent contributions. I strongly believe I can handle this job.

If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office as a success?

If I win this position and I am able to help to ensure that Highland Park emerges from the pandemic in good shape so that residents are feeling better about their futures, businesses are recovering and new businesses taking root, and more families moving to our city —then I will feel my service is helping to put the city on a road to success. But, I will never rest, there will always be more to do to make the city increasingly vibrant, to make Highland Park an ever-better place to live and work.

Why should voters trust you?

I hope voters trust me based on my very long record of service to our city and throughout our community. I always step up to help when asked or if I simply see someone’s call for donations for items for food banks on social media. I contribute to the Highland Park Community Foundation, Moraine Township Food Pantry, Family Services of Lake County (in addition to the local organizations whose boards I serve on) and to almost every citizen-led drive to help our residents. As a leader at one of these organizations said, I have “a strong moral compass”. Helping community is a way of life for me, I am driven by a passion to help others.

What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the use of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?

I am a strong proponent of good and rigorous fiscal stewardship. I believe in investing in our community —such investments if done wisely will strengthen our economy. So I support investing carefully, thoughtfully, and intelligently.

Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?


The best advice ever shared with me was:

A motto that my family and friends know that I live by is “Anything worth doing is worth doing well!” I am known for working extremely hard on everything I sign up to do.

Another motto: My husband, also an architect, once shared his belief that positive change comes about from many actions that add up to make a huge difference. He was referring to designing buildings for energy conservation and sustainability but I globalized his advice and live by this too! I work hard on every element of every project to make it a success, to do the best job I can. And, for me this includes making people feel heard, even if we disagree. I believe in and practice collaborative problem solving.

What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

I care deeply about service and actively engaging to help our community. My passion for contributing to improving peoples lives is what drives ALL of my work, it is a core value of mine and it is why I run for office.

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