Candidate for City Council, 9th Ward
Education: MPP, University of Chicago BA, Rutgers University
Occupation: Political Science Faculty, City Colleges of Chicago
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.
Unfortunately, fiscal responsibility is not easy. When government entities fail to fulfill their obligations, they are passed on to future generations to handle. I do not support ignoring present commitments for the sake of political expediency. Our financial future will require a variety of efforts. I am open to a number of revenue generating measures that include increased tourism and fee for service arrangements in addition to cutting wasteful spending. Further taxation is a last resort.
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 city must fulfill its current pension obligations. This is an issue of justice for those who have spent their lives in service to this community. I am committed to fulfilling our current obligations through a variety of revenue generating and responsible spending initiatives.
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 city's use of TIF funds requires a higher level of public accountability. I support a variety of efforts designed to assure public access to the decision-making process surrounding the use of TIF funds. I fully support the extension of TIF districts in the ward. In the case of the Marriot Hotel and DePaul basketball arena, I understand the desire to attract this kind of development to our city. However, this project as well as others, must be evaluated in relationship to other priorities in the city. In this case, I would like to see our TIF dollars spent to bring development to areas of greater need in the city.
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 am specifically excited about the readers plans on debt reduction. I would be willing to champion this. Youth Development: The development of youth in the ward should be one of the chief foci of ward resources. Not only will I work to support existing community based organizations on the far Southside, but also, I will work towards creating additional youth programs and employment opportunities designed to give our youth alternatives. Lastly, I will support the Council's current efforts to restrict gun sales in the city and work with the area police force to create additional initiatives designed to reduce the number of guns available on the streets. Safety & Environmental Protection: The South end of the ward is a place with challenging environmental conditions. Landfills and industry have created an area where air and noise pollution are common. This has caused significant concerns about the health conditions of residents. As a resident with children in this area I will work to hold businesses accountable to air and noise quality regulations while encouraging environmentally safe future development. Our area will not be the dumping ground for the region. Education: Every child deserves a high quality education. After witnessing the closing of over 50 public schools in Chicago in the last year, our schools need support. I will push for an elected school board that is responsible to citizens when these kinds of decisions are made. I will advocate at the state level for education funding reform, and provide parents with both financial and informational resources for securing quality educational options for their children. Red Light Cameras: I support a moratorium on the use of red light cameras in the majority of the city. Where they have a proven public safety outcome, they may have a benefit. However, in most situations, this is not the case.
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.
Offices like the Legislative Inspector General exist to protect the public against political corruption. Consequently, their work must be supported and they must have the authority to investigate those elected to serve this city.
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?
Our City's schools may be our greatest asset. For this reason, it is important that we have an education system that is fiscally responsible, accountable to the public, and diverse enough to meet the needs of all students. Many of our educational challenges require not just local effort, but federal and state action as well. We must work with our state officials to both change the current funding formula and to assure that our state government fully meets its financial obligations to local schools. We must continue to partner with the federal government to secure funding through initiatives like Race to the Top. Additionally, The Board of Education should be elected by the public as democracy requires shared decision-making. Lastly, education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Our schools must be diverse, recognizing that our students have a variety of needs. However, all schools must receive public support based on their ability to effectively serve our children. Support with accountability should be extended to all of our schools.
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?
The aldermen in our city have a unique opportunity to attract businesses. Our team will commit to an aggressive campaign to attract local and national business investment to the ward. This includes tax incentives, workforce development, and an effort to highlight the strategic advantages of our community. It is imperative that economic development is diverse and multi-faceted. Healthy communities require a mixture of local and nationally run efforts. I support the expansion of workforce development and job training occurring through institutions like the City Colleges. Furthermore, I plan to develop a business incubator in the ward that secures funding for small businesses, attracts larger businesses, and fosters a relationship between the business owners and local community. Lastly, it is imperative that local residents have access to contracting opportunities in the ward. For this reason, I intend to work to insure that a fair percentage of these opportunities are secured for residents of the 9th ward. I have worked as an entrepreneur and an educator. This work has included both job development in the local arts community, in addition to training and internship placement for City Colleges students.
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 wage increases that are consistent with the rising cost of living. In fact, this measure may not fully address the economic reality of the year 2019. Consequently, I would be open to evaluating the need for additional measures at the appropriate time. However, any efforts to increase wages by law, must consider ways to provide additional incentives and support for small businesses.
Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.
Yes-assuming the local community supports it fully. This would represent a great opportunity for the region.
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?
Crime reduction is a holistic effort. Community policing, education improvements, youth activity/job creation, and support for working families are the key to crime prevention. I have worked in all of these areas during my time in the city.
Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.
I only support red light cameras with a proven public safety outcome. The majority of our current cameras cannot claim this result. For this reason, the majority of our red light camera program should end.
Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?
Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?
Public safety and economic opportunity-though a holistic plan for development. Our major challenges require a comprehensive approach to developing solutions. They are interconnected and cannot realistically be solved in isolation.
Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I have a background in the performing arts.