Candidate questionnaires

Portrait of Doris Lewis Brooks

Doris Lewis Brooks

Candidate for City Council, 21st Ward

Doris Lewis Brooks

Candidate for City Council, 21st Ward

Portrait of Doris Lewis Brooks

Education: Hyde Park H. S. Olive Harvey City College Daley City College

Occupation: retired

Home: Chicago

Age: Not answered

Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered


Candidates running for City Council, 21st 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.

Part of the problem is finding alternative revenue. would not call for any more spending cuts or tax increases. I would support an ordinance and legislation at the state level to allow gaming licenses to 3 Chicago sites. We are losing millions of dollars every month to our collar states especially Indiana

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 would not support either one. I would support taxing financial transactions made at the Board of Trade. I would consider taxing certain services. I would oppose the practice of double dipping, where a person retiring from one city or county service, works and becomes eligible for a pension from a different city or county service.

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 would establish an independent over site committee to review all aspects of TIF districts as they relate to where the district will be located, justification, amount available and degree of decay of targeted area. I definitely do not support using TIF funds for the DePaul basketball arena, the Marriott Hotel or the straightening or Wentworth Ave from Chinatown to downtown nor the navy Prier flyover.

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 strongly support dealing with the problems of "when families struggle". The family is the key to all of the rest of the maladies that the city suffers with.

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 office of the legislative inspector should be combined with the office of the inspector general. that office should have all authority to investigate not only aldermen misconduct but mayoral and other elected officials

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 closing of the 50 plus schools should have had an end game plan. Most, if not all closed schools are still owned and maintained by the Chicago school Board which reduces the overall saving from closing those schools. Some schools are on prime real estate areas. The key to improving public education is to first use innovative methods to increase parental involvement. Secondly, cease cutting school programs that add to the overall interest and success of students and thirdly, find the root cause of student disaffection of school that causes disinterest; develop innovative curriculum to keep students interested. I believe in an elected school board. Appointed school board members will not operate independently. I think that at the heart of a teaching career is the passion that a teacher has. Teaching is a profession that one trains for early in a person's life and that person will give more of themselves in the classroom. Charter schools do not provide that level of commitment because for the most part, it's just a job. They are not immediately certified, just teaching "for a job". This does not help our students that may need a little more nurturing or special attention. I am totally opposed to the establishment of any more charter schools. State assisted funding of Chicago public schools may be necessary to close the budget gap. I believe that members of the board of education should be elected by the public. I do support the longer school day and year.

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?

Making our ward employee friendly by first improving the physical appearance of the ward by employing our youth to walk the major streets and clean up debris, provide incentives for employees to relocate in the ward and create job fairs specific for the 21st ward. I helped to promote economic development by employing local talent to perform various tasks needed in my business.

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.

Many living wage jobs have been lost to relocation of jobs, recession which has forced many businesses out of business and the continued automation of some labor intensive jobs. This has led to skilled workers accepting employment at less than minimum wages. I agree with the increase of minimum wages if the increase does not cause small businesses to stop hiring or go out of business themselves.

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

No, I have seen the picture of the designs and it is not consistent with the lake front.

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?

The hiring of more police officers is what is needed. Taking officers from different lower crime areas or desk assignments only gives opportunities for criminals to take advantage of the situation. I am an active member of several CAPS units throughout the 21st ward.

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

No, I do not support Chicago traffic light program. I believe that the red light and speed cameras are designed to gain the city revenue as opposed to making the streets safer for pedestrians.

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

No, I think that the aldermanic representation should stay at this number because issues are becoming more complex and neighborhoods have diversified more, thus the need for each alderman.

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 in the 21st ward is to promote business growth thus reducing unemployment, establishing minority owned franchises in the ward through partnering with established sports, entertainment and business personalities. The greatest concerns that I hear from residents in the 21st ward are basic services such as potholes, lights out, flooded streets and basements, abandoned building s and dumping in abandoned building yards and crime in the streets.

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

I grew up going to Hanukkah! We lived across the street from a Jewish nursing home and every year my family hosted a lawn tea party for the residents. Being the good neighbors that they were, every year we joined them at Hanukkah!

City Council, 21st Ward