Candidate questionnaires

Portrait of Derrick G. Curtis

Derrick G. Curtis

Candidate for City Council, 18th Ward

Derrick G. Curtis

Candidate for City Council, 18th Ward

Portrait of Derrick G. Curtis

Education: some college and certified courses

Occupation: City of Chicago Ward Superintendent

Home: Chicago

Age: Not answered

Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered

Candidates running for City Council, 18th 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.

No. City shouldn't borrow money for short term projects. Any bonds should be used for long term capital improvements and infrastructure. Cut spending, raise revenue, and eliminate non-essential services. Prioritize spending.

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.

Any new or added revenue should be directed to the pension fund. Example: red light tickets, red light cameras and incurred revenue from city sales tax and real estate transfer tax.

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.

Once TIF funds has been developed and funding the stream for the payback of bonds has been satisfied, excess funds should be returned to the taxing bodies. Yes I would support expansion or extension of its TIF district in my ward. Excess TIF funds should be spent on job creation. I don't support the allocation of TIF funds to buy land for Marriott Hotel and DePaul basketball arena when other priorities of city rebuilding must be addressed in all 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 Please tell us which ideas you would champion. We invite you to offer additional ideas for dealing with Chicago's challenges.

I would love to support all 12 proposals to make a better Chicago.

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 would abolish the OLIG. It's a non- essential service. All elected city officials and their staff should be held accountable for their actions. I'm ok with ethics as they are. the seriousness of ethics must be stressed

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?

My assessment encourages the educational future is to save time and money. Teachers may not necessarily need to spend more time in schools but, merely focus on the specific needs in our school program. This will free up programs that cps that are either duplicated or not a major priority. The elimination of such programs that are currently in place will consecutively resolve our concerns with finances and time. There need to be a screening process of the distribution of funds to finalize this assessment.This will prove highly effective in our education system, which will allow the focus and direction of financial distribution for salary increases for teachers. With a $6 Billion budget it's hard to comprehend a $1 Billion deficit. We also need to look at the money spent in the closing and upkeep of over 50 schools and the administrative building moving from 125 N. Clark

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 an economic development committee that would go out to market prominent businesses/employers of which the community would support. I would use TIF resources to encourage employers to come and hire local residents. As Committeeman we have surveyed residents on what they would like to see and support>

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 a statewide raise in the minimum wage. we don't want to see our businesses move out the city to escape the minimum wage requirement.

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

No. i feel it doesn't belong on the on the lakefront. Feel that the residents of the city should be able to enjoy the lakefront parks.I think a good place for it is the old Micheal Reese site. close to the McCormick Pl. It's already city controlled land. It will also bring more congestion.

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?

Hire more police, return to community policing, walking beats in neighborhoods. The first duty of government is the safety of it's residents, we must prioritize our spending. we use to have volunteer groups in the ward that was the eyes and ears. I would find resources that would bring that program back.

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

I don't support the red light cameras, but as long as it's here I would like to see it's revenue earmarked to the pension fund.

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

No I feel that the tax payers should have a stronger accessibility to the person that represent them. every ward has about 50-60,000 residents. a larger increase in residents could hinder representation

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

Public safety, with a safe environment we can maintain strong neighborhoods, safe schools and a vibrant business district.

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

I'm a 20 yr. resident of the 18th ward, ward superintendent of streets and sanitation. Democratic Committeeman. I have been wrapped, tied, and tangled actively in the community in outreach programs and activities in the ward for over 17yrs.