Renita Ward Is Running for Chicago’s 5th Ward Alderman, Wants To Lead With Inclusion, Collaboration And Compassion

Renita Ward Is Running for Chicago’s 5th Ward Alderman, Wants To Lead With Inclusion, Collaboration And Compassion


Renita Q. Ward (Facebook)

When Renita Ward moved to Chicago in 2007, she fell in love with the city and decided to make it her forever home. Now the healthcare attorney and pastor wants to serve her community differently by running for the 5th Ward Alderman seat.

Election day is Tuesday, Feb. 28. When people go to the polls and vote, Ward wants residents to choose her because she said she is a “compassionate and capable leader” who will represent the people’s interests.

“Whether its zealously advocating for people as an attorney or zealously being present for them as a pastor, both of those roles put me front and center with people, what they need and what they’re asking for,” Ward told Moguldom Nation in an exclusive interview.

“My candidacy really is a response to the call I’ve heard from people,” she continued. “They want informed leadership. They want leadership that is going to advocate for them. They want leadership that can understand the different things that are happening in society and actually have the tools to do something to change it.”

Born in Fort Benning, Georgia, on the local army base and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Ward says her passion for serving others stems from the values instilled in her by her “hard-working family.” According to Ward, her father was a pastor who also served in the military, and her mother continually emphasized the importance of helping others to her and her four siblings.

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That value has permeated and shaped Ward’s life from childhood to now. Whether doing community service with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, or volunteering at a free legal clinic at Trinity United Church of Christ, Ward believes wholeheartedly in the adage that she should be the change she wants to see.

A single mother who balanced raising her son with earning her bachelor’s in journalism and two master’s in mass communications and divinity, Ward said she believes her unique set of skills and experiences have equipped her to serve the people of the 5th Ward effectively.

“I feel that I am qualified, I have the experience, and the passion to move the 5th Ward to another level, by maintaining, sustaining, obtaining, and then gaining ground,” Ward told Moguldom.

She emphasized she would make it a point to “ensure clear and responsive communications with the residents” and “work with all people regardless of race, creed, color, religious belief, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation or identification.”

“As an attorney, I have the business, legal and leadership skills to lead the 5th Ward forward to excellence,” she continued. “My experience as a reporter, an issues manager, chair of a six-figure regional foundation, and now as an associate general counsel for a major organization arms me with the fortitude, business acumen, tenacity, and compassion needed for times such as these.”

Ward is running on what she describes as a “five-point” platform that includes supporting Chicago’s youth, improving safety and government efficiency, spurring economic development and investing in education and health. She said she doesn’t believe in reinventing the wheel but would rather work with organizations that are already in the trenches doing the work.

If elected, Ward plans to take a collaborative approach to implement her solutions.

“There are people who are working in so many various sectors, really getting it done in a lot of ways, but sometimes it requires amplification, sometimes its coordination, sometimes it’s advocacy to really bring it to scale,” Ward said.

“I just think about … organizations that truly have engaged the populous, know what the issues are and have been working on the issues,” she continued. “As the representative, as the alderperson, it’s for me to come up alongside them, to go out front when necessary and then make space for them to lead the charge when appropriate rather than come as if I have a magic wand to solve all things that are ailing us.”

“My signature will be as an effective collaborator and an articulator and synthesizer of the various ideas so that the loudest isn’t always the right or the best approach. Sometimes it just requires shifting through whatever’s going on the find the best approach,” Ward added.

When asked if she supports reparations for Black Americans, Ward said she believes a conversation on how to effectively implement repair and restoration is critical and something she wants to do with her constituents and peers on the council if elected.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that African American people have been discriminated against … so to have a conversation about how you right that wrong seems like the right conversation to have to me,” Ward said. “I believe there are models for how the City Council can develop and implement reparations at the municipal level, and I support that conversation and sustainable ordinances passing.”

She admitted that she hadn’t yet heard a “groundswell” of people asking about reparations in Chicago, specifically. According to Ward, the most prominent issues residents have spoken to her about are safety, affordable housing, well-paying jobs and accessibility to healthcare. 

However, she said it’s her job to keep her ears open to the priorities of her residents. When examined holistically, she said the issues that currently have a groundswell make it evident that reparatory justice is necessary.

“When I do hear it, it’s my responsibility and my job to advocate for it. I also know there are some things I’ll need to bring to [the council’s] attention even if they’re not talking about it,” Ward said. “In my mind, all of those things are really a conversation about how do you get assets and resources into the hands of people who have either had things kept for them or taken away from them, so that’s a conversation about repair and restoration.”

Touting Chicago’s diversity and cultural richness, Ward stressed her belief that residents from all walks of life are equally important.

“Whether a Nobel Peace Prize winner or homeless person, both of those residents are valued. I want to make sure people are served and represented as they should be,” Ward said. “Inclusion is so important. From the voice of the youth to the voice of the elderly to the voice of the LGBTQ+ community, it is really about a framework of including all the voices and representing the people where they are.”

If voters select her to represent them on Feb. 28, Ward said she’d be honored to be the people’s choice.

I think it’s important that people have a choice,” Ward said, noting the crowded races in the city. “People deserve the opportunity to select a qualified leader that they feel represents them. And I’m grateful that folks have what they deserve, which is a choice. I’m hoping that people look amongst the field and see a compassionate and capable leader that represents them and they choose me because they want to.”