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Young council candidate looking to bring change in 2017

Joliet resident Alex Rodriguez envisions bringing change if elected to serve as an at-large Joliet City Council member in 2017.

The 23-year-old candidate said he is ready to make an early impact on the state of the city by refocusing on the downtown.

“I’m going to work from day one, even before I swear in when elected in April,” he said.

Rodriguez, who currently manages a Starbucks coffee shop in Aurora, refutes the notion that having a plethora of experience in politics equates to success in the general election.

“Our government was designed for the people to be represented by the people,” Rodriguez said. “That’s something I really think is important.”

If elected, Rodriguez could serve as the youngest city council member to work alongside the current board of elected officials. He said bringing diversity to Joliet is important.

“It’s diverse when it comes race, when it comes to background, when it comes social status,” Rodriguez said. “We have a council primarily of an older generation, which is fine. But, where is the younger representation? It’s not in any branch of government whether it’s Joliet or throughout the state. It’s very rare that younger people get involved. I want to represent the young generation because we are the future of Joliet.”

Rodriguez, noting that writing Joliet’s future begins now, said decisions are changing the course of the city and future generations must get involved.

“We have the riverwalk; we have our historic buildings; we have the ball park; we have all the perfect ingredients to have something really special here,” he said. “But unfortunately, city council hasn’t been able to do it.”

Long before Rodriguez made his intent to run for Joliet City Council known, a passion to bring change brewed.

Rodriguez said he and his family moved around quite a bit in his early life.

He settled in Joliet when he entered third grade, at which time his parents split.

Rodriguez said times were tough for he and his family as they struggled to secure permanent housing.

Rodriguez said with help from Cornerstone Services, his mother received the support needed to turn over a new leaf. The journey to rise above his circumstances stirs a number of emotions, he said.

“It’s definitely something to really own a home just miles from Daybreak and Guardian Angels and to know that we once were there with nothing,” he said. “Now, I’m blessed enough to have a wife and have my first home here in Joliet. I care about people and I remember those days that we had to sleep in a group with many other people.”

Rodriguez said his experiences in early life translate well in driving his campaign.

“I want to see people succeed here, and Joliet has helped me to succeed,” he said. “It all happened here, and I know that we can do that for a lot of people.”