Curtis J. Tarver sits down with the Herald to discuss his run for the 25th District House seat

Curtis J. Tarver II

Staff Writer

Known as a practicing attorney and small business owner from the North Kenwood community, Curtis J. Tarver II, co-founder of Vice District Brewery, said he wants to bring his diverse background in business,nonprofits, education, and law to the State Representative seat of Illinois 25th House District.

In an interview with the Herald, Tarver said he has invested his time in the community as a mentor for the Big Shoulders Fund organization, an organization that provides funding for underprivileged children to attend Catholic Schools; Depaul USA, an organization that help’s combat homelessness and housing injustice, and developing the first African-American owned licensed brewery in the state of Illinois since 2014.

Tarver, a graduate of Iowa State University (B.S.) and University of Iowa Law School (J.D.), said he is currently vying for the seat left open by State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) after she announced in September that she would not run in the 2018 election.

Tarver said that he has spent his entire professional career both as a lawyer and business advocate representing others and fighting for justice.

Tarver said on behalf of his constituencies, he will work to ensure that the 25th District community has the necessary resources it needs to thrive long term.

Tarver explained that he knows the importance of entrepreneurship and its role to help create jobs and opportunities.

He believes strongly that the criminal justice system needs reform and he believes that the state must work to remove the barriers to employment for ex-offenders and provide social service programs and temporary assistance to help them return to their communities.

“As far as businesses and policies, what I would like to see is more of a focus on hiring individuals who’ve been formerly incarcerated,” Tarver said in a sit-down interview with the Herald. “Quite frankly, I have had the privilege of being able to do so with my brewery business. I think it is very important, quite frankly, unless you have life without parole you’re going to come home and when you come home, it’s important to have those [job] opportunities available.”

Tarver said his desire for public service came very early in his career, and that shortly after completing law school at Iowa State University, he worked in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs as an Assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Beyond his private legal practice, Tarver said he has volunteered his time, in the past, with Cabrini Green Legal Aid and Chicago Volunteer Legal Services helping those individuals who could not afford a lawyer.

Tarver said a significant part of his platform is really about making sure individuals who were formerly incarcerated have a second chance. He said through out his life, he was fortunate enough for people to give him a second chance and if it wasn’t for one mentor or somebody taking an interest in him, his life would have been different.

“It may not be the most popular thing, but I am very committed to ensuring that individuals who were formerly incarcerated have a focus in this campaign,” Tarver said. “Because if we don’t figure out how to help individuals who paid their debt to society who are looking for an opportunity, none of us will benefit.”

Tarver said he is opposed to the death penalty.

In addition to his desire to help those who were formerly incarcerated, Tarver said he’s a big advocate of quality education. He believes that all children should have access to good neighborhood schools.

“I don’t want to just focus on the business side,” Tarver said. “[On] education, I’m really focused on the children. I really want my primary focus to be on early intervention for students. I believe every child needs a strong neighborhood school.” 

When asked the question about his stance on community groups who were advocating for elected school boards versus appointed school boards, Tarver said he did not have a strong sense of the subject at the time. He believes in neighborhood schools but is not opposed to Charter Schools. Thinks a hybrid approach to the school problem makes sense now.

As a parent of a 4-year-old daughter, Tarver believes that every child should have the opportunity to go to a great school.

He said he wants more social services in schools because students bring more to school than just education issues.

Tarver said that neighborhood school’s that lack resources, should be given strong teachers, additional social workers, an adequate school board and trained mental health professionals to add value.

Tarver said when it comes to addressing issues from the Hyde Park community; most people were concerned with public safety, how it’s funded, passing a consistent budget on time and addressing the void that will be left in the office when Currie leaves. Tarver believes that Currie was “excellent when it came to managing resources and revenue for the 25thDistrict.”

Tarver also said since the launch of his campaign, he has currently recruited 30 volunteers and raised up to $48,000 in campaign funding since announcing his candidacy. 

During the interview Tarver also said that He is in favor of a progressive income tax rather than the present flat percentage tax and, had he been in a Legislator in the recent session in Springfield, he would have voted for the tax increase as the state needs the funds. He also believes that changes need to be made to the Illinois constitution in order to guarantee equal rights for all communities.

The Herald will publish its interviews with all six candidates running for the 25th District Illinois State Representative seat leading up to the primary election on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The current State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) announced in September that she would not run in the upcoming election.