Candidate for City Council, 18th Ward
Education: Graduate of Harper High School, 1967; Some college
Occupation: Alderman, 18th Ward
Age: Not answered
Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered
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 support practical, efficient budgets that give Chicago taxpayers the most effective city services. I cannot speak to the justification of this decision, but I do know that our city government needs to ensure that there's no waste or inefficiency in the current city budget, especially before committing to tax increases. Moving forward, our Chicago taxpayers deserve nothing less than complete and total transparency with the city budget.
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.
I look forward to the Illinois Supreme Court shedding light on this crucial matter. I believe their decision will provide a framework for continuing the discussion on pension reform.
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.
I do not think the use of TIF funds can be discussed in general terms. However, I do think TIF funds should be used to revitalize blighted areas and help create new local jobs. I would like to see more TIF funds used in the 18th Ward.
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.
I choose "Curb Crime." These gangs have NO investment in our communities; instead they fight over which side of the street or corner is their territory. People need to be able to feel safe where they live. We need to work together as a community to solve these issues. I've spoken with people affiliated with gangs – they want jobs. Not just any job, but a job that can help them raise a family and feel good about the work they do. I want young people to first respect themselves, get out of these gangs, finish school and work toward a career, and the rest will fall into place.
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.
I have no issues with the office of legislative inspector general. In fact, I think it should be better funded. We need to keep elected officials honest and accountable.
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?
There is no one key to improving education in any city, including Chicago. Any discussion on education reform should be diverse and multi-faceted. Use the Illinois lottery money as designed to support education: purchase chrome books, pay teachers' salaries, and create new programs (cooking, carpentry and auto classes). The key to improving public education is: good teachers, parent participation, and longer school hours. The public should elect school board members. I support longer school days and I would support a longer school year if the time were constructive and beneficial. Teachers are not babysitters; any time they have with students should be used to advance their education. Using money from the Illinois lottery would be a great start to closing the budget gap.
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 focus on responsible and well-planned TIF and 6B incentives to attract businesses that bring family sustaining jobs to the ward. I want to make it easier for businesses to locate in my ward. Potential developers and business owners should have a clear picture of the expectations of the community and local elected officials. Once they commit to our neighborhood I want all interested parties to work together and bring development to the community that benefits everyone. To promote new development, I hand out information about 18th Ward boundaries, demographics, schools, and churches to prospective businesses and developers.
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.
Yes, I voted for the successful measure. Anyone that works a full-time job should not live in poverty. Unfortunately, that is the reality of many workers in Chicago. We have to support our workers with a livable wage, which in turn will also support the economy as well.
Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.
I prefer to bring projects such as this to areas that are more in need of an economic boost. However, this is a great opportunity for our city and we run the risk of losing the museum if we don't site it at this location. It will be great for our economy and hopefully some of that new economic activity will make its way to the 18th Ward.
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?
I support Chicago's community policing model and urge neighborhood residents to be active in maintaining safety in their areas, by starting neighborhood watch groups, such as Scottsdale, Ashburn and Wrightwood Rangers in the 18th Ward. Police cannot do all the work and neither can residents. I believe beat cops should be developing substantive and productive relationships daily with neighborhood residents. Beyond this, we also need to acknowledge there aren't enough resources allocated to promoting public safety and hire more police. Only then will public safety improve. I attend my neighborhood's CAPS meetings and have relationships with CPD officers in my areas. CPD Officers also come to the 18th Ward monthly town hall meetings.
Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.
I support cameras at dangerous intersections where statistics show a high number of red light violations. These cameras should only be used to improve public safety and should not be relied on as a substantial source of revenue.
Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?
No. Although I am interested in consolidating resources and saving as much money as possibly, my community needs effective representation that only comes from smaller wards.
Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?
My highest priority for improving our ward is building an 18-acre facility for young adult activities. This project has the potential to foster more community within the wards. More importantly, this will help keep our young people off the streets by providing a productive alternative. At every CAPS and town hall meeting residents speak of safety as their number one concern. This is something I will continue to work diligently on.
Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I love God, life, my family, the 18th Ward, old movies, gardening and fishing.