Candidate questionnaires

Placeholder for Andre Smith

Andre Smith

Candidate for City Council, 20th Ward

Andre Smith

Candidate for City Council, 20th Ward

Placeholder for Andre Smith

Education: Du Sable High school and East West University.

Occupation: Community Activist

Home: Chicago

Age: Not answered

Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered

Website: smith2015.com

Candidates running for City Council, 20th Ward


Responses to the Chicago Tribune's questionnaire

Q: Last year, the Chicago Tribune's investigative series "Broken Bonds" reported that, since 2000, Chicago had issued long-term bonds to spend nearly $10 billion, much of it for short-term operating expenses. Hundreds of millions of dollars went to delay bond payments by refinancing old debts, a tactic known as "scoop and toss" that extends payments far into the future. Was this borrowing justified? Going forward, how should City Hall change its finances to pay down existing debts and provide services? Will you argue primarily for cuts in spending or for tax increases? Please be specific.

I do not agree with this practice. The city council needs to development a comprehensive fiscally responsible plan and not the irresponsible task of kicking the can down the road. I would advocate for cuts in spending but not to city services.


Q: Chicago will face a substantial increase in contributions to its police and fire pension funds in 2016. Chicago's unfunded pension liability amounts to about $7,000 for each resident of the city. How should the city solve its pension crisis? Please be specific about pension changes, spending cuts or revenue increases you would support.

The police and fire pension fund is an issue that should be addressed as well as the teacher and city worker pension funds. We should be working toward a balance and comprehensive plan that funds all of our unfunded pensions.


Q: What changes should be made in the city's use of tax increment financing? Would you support expansion or extension of TIF districts in your ward? How should excess TIF funds be spent? Do you support the $55 million allotment of TIF funds to buy land for a Marriott Hotel and DePaul basketball arena? Please explain.

The TIF program should never have an surplus with the issues out communities face. I would support an expansion of the TIF districts in my ward it is needed to bring about economic development. Excess TIF should be given an spent on our schools for infrastructure and resources. I do not agree with nor support an allotment of TIF funds to buy land for a Marriott and DePaul basketball arena. Chicago has a lot of economically depressed and under developed areas that could use the allotment of TIF funds also to improve their communities.


Q: The Tribune Editorial Board recently offered "12 ways to heal a city" — the best ideas among more than 1,000 suggestions from readers on how to craft "A new Plan of Chicago." These proposals are available at chicagotribune.com/plan. Please tell us which ideas you would champion. We invite you to offer additional ideas for dealing with Chicago's challenges.

There were a lot of wonderful ideas presented. I think that the city should investing in our communities and our residents. Rebuilding our neighborhoods block by block, truly investing in our school system with equal funding for resources and infrastructure.


Q: Should the City Council keep or abolish the office of legislative inspector general? Should the city inspector general be given the authority to investigate aldermen and their staff members? Do you have other ideas to improve government ethics in Chicago? Please explain.

The inspector General Office should be left alone and given authority to investigate the City Council and its members.


Q: The Chicago Public Schools system has seen significant improvements in freshmen on track and high school graduation rates. CPS has also closed dozens of schools, used fiscal 2016 revenue to balance its 2015 budget and faces a roughly $700 million pension payment in 2016. Please give us your assessment of the academic and financial performance of the city's public schools. What is the key to improving public education in the city? Should members of the Board of Education be elected by the public or continue to be appointed by the mayor? Do you support the longer school day and year? Should CPS expand or reduce the number of charter schools? How should CPS close its significant budget gap?

The majority of the schools within the 20th Ward are on academic probation and we have had a number of school closings this is nothing to celebrate about. Equally funding our schools with resources and personnel would greatly assist the schools in the ward. I agree with electing an elected school board and training for them. Also extending the school day would be great. We should hold off on any new Charter schools until we equally funded the school that we have. If after equally funded and the school are still failing them we can revisit the Charter school idea.


Q: How would you attract more employers to your ward? How would you encourage employers to hire local residents? What have you done to promote economic development in your ward?

I would create a 20th Ward Chamber of Commerce that would represent Englewood, Woodlawn, Washington Park, and The Back of The Yards. Create economic incentives that entice local businesses to hire locally and for new businesses.


Q: Do you support or oppose the City Council vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019? Please explain.

I support to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019. In 2019 the cost of living would have increased and it still would not be enough to support a family by then.


Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.

It is a wonderful idea bring the museum to Chicago but the reality is that the city has a lot of other areas with enough space for the museum. The idea is to develop the City of Chicago not the Lakefront and downtown but the communities also.


Q: How can the city improve public safety? Please address the role and performance of the Chicago Police Department and the role of neighborhood residents in crime prevention. What have you done to improve public safety in your community?

By strengthening the CAPS programs, hiring in more police officers, creating a true community partnership between both the police and residences. Assist with building the worlds best block club organizations.


Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.

Yes, I would eliminate the Red Light Camera program. This has been a source of generating revenue for the city not for safety.


Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?

No, the current number of alderman are having a hard time supporting the number of residences that they represent.


Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?

Crime/ Public Safety Economic Development/ jobs Education The lack of employment.


Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

I was born to help people.


City Council, 20th Ward