Political consultant TyJuan "Ty" Cratic, who is openly gay, is one of several candidates vying to fill the vacancy left from the stepping-down of longtime state Rep. Arthur Turner. Among his competitors, in fact, is Turner's son, Aaron. But Cratic is confident that his extensive political experience can put him ahead of the game in the heated race to represent the 9th District.
Windy City Times: Your website mentions both that you have a "new vision" for state government and various issues require a "creative approach." What exactly does that mean to you, and why do you think you are you the right person to bring that to Springfield for the 9th District?
Ty Cratic: The 9th District is a pretty bifurcated district. You have parts of it that are the wealthiest in the city and in the state, then you have the western portion of it, represented by the second poorest community in the city. It's a very diverse community, but the message I carry is the same message at each door, whether I'm in North Lawndale or Lincoln Park: If we don't lookif the state, the city and the county don't work congruentlyto make sure that we're bringing new jobs, industry and small business growth to North Lawndale, an area that hasn't seen significant development in over 50 years, we will continue to be reliant on property taxes, sales tax and income tax to fund our government. That means we're leaving opportunity on the table.
WCT: Where do you see the role of the state rep in all that?
TC: Well, the job of the state representative is to do three things: go down to Springfield to vote on laws that affect everybody in the state; vote on funding that funds everything in the state; and then fight for their community in terms of bringing dollars in from the statebringing in projects that bring jobs to their district. Sometimes you have to work outside the legislative process to make sure that you have the political will to make sure all this happens. The state rep's job is a part-time job; you go down there and represent your community. You go back and you fight for these things that bring to bring them back. You're supposed to be getting your community ready to receive the things that you go down there and fight for.
WCT: How would you see your representation be different or similar from that of outgoing state Rep. Turner?
TC: I'm a little bit more boisterous. I love the work that Art Turner has done. He has really gone down as a champion of criminal-justice reform. [But] I knocked on doors across the district, and in the northern portion of the district, I am knocking and people are saying, "This is great, I've never met my representative. I never see him. He never knocks on doors or holds town halls or anything like that. For me, I'm going to be more of a representative of the district, and not a trustee of the district. We have to take into account people's positions and people's issues. I am going to hold town hall meetings and I am going to work with other elected officials, no matter what political "tribe" they're from. We're all paying taxes and we're all in this together.
WCT: You have a long history with the county's Democratic Party, and you are executive director of the Young Democrats. You've also worked for a number of campaigns and elected officials. Can you speak about any grassroots work you've done, where you've worked on issues you think might be of interest to your constituents?
TC: I started out in politics volunteering when I was 15-years-old. Sometimes people get the idea that, "You're only in politics just to be in politics, to do it professionally." I went into politics to help people and to help better the lives of people. I thought that when I was 15. I thought that when I was 25, and I think about it now, when I'm 35-years-old. I used to ditch high school and go down to Springfield and lobby with equality Illinois to pass the Human Rights Amendment, as it was called then. … I worked on getting support for organizations fighting homelessness, especially on the West Sidethe task force that's at Cicero and Madison. A lot of this is me being behind-the-scenes and pushing a lot of policies that are seen as helpful. That's what it is supposed to be [for me]supporting elected officials whose job it is to go out there and pushing them.
WCT: What do you think are the most pressing issues for LGBT residents of the 9th District?
TC: I think it is healthcare, being visible and homelessness. It's all connected. When you see families that aren't willing to accept either a trans son or a trans daughter, [the child] finds themselves being homeless at the moment. We have to be able to say that this an issue. We want people to be safe and on their medicine, whether they are or are not HIV-positive. We don't want them to continue a life of sex work, but we want them to know that, if they are in a life of sex work, there are areas where help can be provided. That is to help you get out of that line of work, but to make sure that you are safe as well.
When we look at homelessness, if we don't do anything about itwhether you're LGBTQ or non-LGBTQwe see the rates of infection [for HIV and other STIs] go up. We need to make sure that people have proper healthcare, so that they are able to take care of themselves, whether they are LGBTQ or not.
WCT: What's been the most challenging aspect of the campaign?
TC: I'll be brutally honest. Most people think that, because of my background with the Democratic Party and the different campaigns, that I was going to come into the campaign and be the heir apparent for the seat. I knew that that wasn't going to be the case but the hardest part has been fighting that idea that I'll have all the Democratic support. … I'm more of the "independent Democrat" running for the seat.
See TyCratic.com .