Alper Turan

Alper Turan

The last time voters in Illinois House District 13 in the Lincoln Square area had a choice on their general election ballot was in 2002. Now, for the first time in two decades, they will have a choice not only in the Nov. 8 general election for state representative but also in the Democratic primary June 28. Alper Turan, a Republican, was recruited by Illinois Policy to offer competition in the general election and help end the voter suppression inherent in a system that fails to give voters choices.

“In my district, our rep has been holding this seat for almost 16 years without any contest. So, he would always get 100% of the votes. That’s not real voter freedom, because voters have no choice.”

“It’s not about just running and winning. Even running in the city is winning because there are so many uncontested races.”

“I am originally from northwest Iran, a country where you don’t have any freedom. You don’t have the freedom of speech, religion and assembly that we enjoy here. You don’t even have freedom of thought. If they find out your thoughts are not aligning with their ideology, you’ll get in trouble. Not just you, they’ll punish your friends, your family, your kids, etc. Everyone around you gets in trouble. In such a place, governed by Islamic extremists, it’s not easy to raise girls. Everything is problematic.”

“We left Iran in 1998 and moved to Azerbaijan Republic as refugees. My daughters were 1 and 5 years old when we left. After receiving official refugee status from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, we were offered the opportunity to move to Scandinavian countries or Canada. But I rejected all of them.”

“I preferred the United States mainly for its Constitution and family values. So, all of these qualities made me think that this was the best place to raise my kids.”

“I got lucky. I interviewed and was approved to come to the U.S. in 2001. Unfortunately, due to 9/11, everything was canceled. So, we waited another two years, and moved in 2003. We lived in St. Louis, Missouri, for two years, then chose Chicago for more opportunities.”

“I found a job in a factory in Rogers Park building electric equipment. I was looking for a school to continue my education. Looking for education became an employment search as Truman College had an open position. I applied and got the job as a part-time computer lab tech.”

“I went back to school, got my master’s in political science. Later, I got my education specialist degree in higher education leadership. In 2015 I was promoted to reprographics technician manager while offered to teach political science as an adjunct.”

“One of my daughters completed her master’s and is working for a corporation as an employee relations specialist. The other one she joined the Army, trained as a combat medic, and was deployed overseas. I have two grandkids.”

“I’m thankful that my family has been able to pursue the American Dream, but our state has been in the wrong hands for many years causing economic and social downfall. I don’t want my state to stay this way for my grandkids. If I can take any steps to correct the path that we’re on, I am in.”

“One of our main issues is inequity in the school system. It’s not fair that our children are trapped in failing school districts due to where they live. Parents should have the power and right to choose where they want to send their kids to school.”

“Another problem is rising crime. In this state, we’re not punishing criminals. Instead, we are punishing law-abiding citizens. We have all these strict gun laws in Chicago and Illinois, but still we have a rising crime problem. We need to empower our law enforcement by giving them enough and necessary tools to bring down crime.”

“We also have uncontrolled taxation. Our state government has unrestrained power to raise sales tax or property tax anytime they want. There’s no leash to control them. People are really suffering. When they raise the business taxes, that is often passed down to the customers. So, the customers, me and you, end up hurting more.”

“This city once was the birthplace of the American Dream, and now people are moving out. I was one of them. Until three years ago, I was thinking about getting early retirement and leaving the state to a better and affordable state. But I have been raised to fight, not run from problems and hardship.”

“Chicago was my starting point. I got my education here, raised my kids here. My kids got their education in Illinois. I have grandkids, so this is my home. I will stay and fight for a better future that we all deserve.”

“We have everything here: beautiful cities and towns, four seasons, environment, jobs, and educational opportunities. We must fight to save our state. If I can be an agent of change, even a small one, that opens the door for big changes, I am in.”

Alper Turan
Chicago, Illinois

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!
Keep scrolling for more inspiring stories

Have a story to share?

Tell us how a state or local policy affects your life.
If we decide to feature your story, one of our writers will reach out to you directly.