Jerry Joyce Jr.’s family has a long history in city and state politics, and now the lifelong Beverly resident seeks to add to that history as he campaigns to be elected mayor of Chicago.
Joyce, a former assistant Cook County state’s attorney and the son of former 19th Ward Ald. Jeremiah Joyce, is among the 21 candidates running to succeed Rahm Emanuel, who is not seeking a third term, in the election on Feb. 26, 2019.
Joyce said he didn’t expect to add politics to his resume, but he’s optimistic about his campaign.
“It was a lot of encouragement from friends and neighbors, frustrated with the direction the city’s been going—particularly, the public safety issue,” Joyce said. “I had never considered myself a candidate for public office. … I’ve been encouraged to run in the past. I did not envision this. I didn’t see anybody stepping up.”
Joyce is currently an attorney with an office on the 10200 block of South Western Avenue. He is a graduate of St. Cajetan Elementary School, Marist High School, Yale University and the Loyola University School of Law. He and his wife, Jannine, have four children.
His father, Jeremiah Joyce, was 19th Ward alderman from 1976-79, then a state senator from 1979-93. His brother, Kevin, was state representative of the 35th District, which includes parts of the 19th Ward, from 2003-2010.
Another brother, Mike Joyce, owns Celtic Boxing Club in Mt. Greenwood.
As a candidate for mayor, Jerry Joyce said, public safety is his biggest concern. He wants more Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers to be hired citywide.
He also wants neighborhood schools that are part of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to thrive.
He supports legalizing marijuana and building a casino in the city to support pension payments.
Joyce said that current CPD officers are “overworked,” and detectives are working on too many cases, making crimes difficult to solve—leaving bad guys on the street.
“You’ve got repeat offenders not being picked up,” Joyce said. “That’s just a manpower issue. They made a strategic decision to cut personnel on the police department by not hiring [and] attrition.”
Regarding CPS, Joyce said neighborhood schools are at a disadvantage in competing against charter schools. While he said charter schools “have been wonderful for some parents,” he said the fact that charter schools can “pick and choose who they accept” and hire employees who don’t live in the city—which CPS requires—has created problems.
He said the playing field needs to be leveled.
“It’s not a true competition,” Joyce said. “You’re setting up [charter schools] to compete against CPS and non-charter schools, but it’s not a fair competition. [It’s] the cream of the crop. Are we going to have a neighborhood-school system or not? I believe we should. I think every neighborhood should have a viable public school option. Some of them do. Sutherland’s great. But, so many neighborhoods don’t.”
Emanuel recently announced his support of legalizing marijuana and building a casino to support pension payments, and Joyce said he supported those issues before thye mayor’s announcement.
Joyce said that legalization of marijuana “is coming” because Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker supports it.
When that happens, Joyce said, he wants to make sure Chicago residents benefit.
“I would certainly do my best to make sure Chicago got its fair share of the taxes from that,” Joyce said. “I would also devote all those revenues to unfunded liabilities.”
According to USA Today, the city has four public employee pension funds that have more than $27 billion in unfunded liabilities; the city will need an additional $276 million in 2020 to pay for rising police and firefighter pensions, as well as an additional $310 million by 2022 for the municipal and laborers fund.
Legalizing marijuana and building a publicly owned casino, Joyce said, will be good ways to address a daunting financial situation.
“We can’t tax our way out of it,” Joyce said. “It’s a huge, huge number. The state’s in bad shape. We need to find alternative sources of revenue, explore all options and get ourselves in a position where we can grow our way of it—govern and grow, but we need some breathing room to do that.”
The field of candidates for mayor includes Paul Vallas, a former Beverly resident and former CPS CEO.
Mayoral candidates need over 50 percent of the vote to win. If that does not occur, the top two candidates will compete in a run-off election on April 2, 2019.
Joyce said he believes the race will go to a run-off.
He boasted that the supporters who collected signatures to get him on the unofficial list of candidates were unpaid, and earlier this month, he won the lottery that determined whose name will appear first on the ballot.
Joyce has hosted multiple local campaign events.
He believes his roots in the city add to his qualifications.
“I was born and raised here … never considered living anywhere else,” Joyce said. “We’re raising our kids a mile and a half from where I grew up.”
Information about early voting is available at the web site at chicagoelections.com.