Candidate questionnaires

Portrait of Roger L. Washington

Roger L. Washington

Candidate for City Council, 24th Ward

Roger L. Washington

Candidate for City Council, 24th Ward

Portrait of Roger L. Washington

Education: Bachelor of Arts in sociology and Master of Science in public safety

Occupation: Chicago Police Officer, Educator, nad Ordained Pastor

Home: Chicago

Age: Not answered

Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered


Candidates running for City Council, 24th 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 would mainly argue for an expansion in the tax base in terms of taxing certain services. In addition, that expanded tax base would include a LaSalle Street Tax. Also, I believe that billions that are made with TIF dollars could also be used to address some of the service problems that the city is facing in the future.

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.

There are several ways that I believe that we can generate new revenue streams. First, I believe that we can create a LaSalle Street tax. Billions can be generated and used to fund the pension and our school system. Another revenue stream would be to enact a commuter tax on those who travel to the city to work and to leave at the end of day. Finally, we should consider taxing more services in the city of Chicago. Some studies show that hundred millions of dollars can be generated if the tax base was expanded to certain services.

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.

TIF funds should go back to its original purpose and that is to help the least developed neighborhoods by lifting them out of blight and to create opportunities for job creation all across the city. Excess TIF funds should be spent primarily in their ward to help with economic development and removal of blighted areas. I do not believe the $55 million dollars should have gone to the Marriot Hotel when their our hundreds of neighborhoods across the city that could have benefited from the use of those TIF dollars. I believe the city has left lower income communities behind and that their priorities are backwards.

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 think the major challenge in Chicago is reforming how we use TIF dollars. We need to use TIF dollars based on the original purpose they were created. In addition, we must push for an elected school board so more better decisions are made.

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 do believe that Chicago should keep the legislative inspector general office, give Fasial Khan the funding he needs, and yes he should be able to investigate alderman who are breaking the law. Elected officials who are break the law must answer for their crimes.

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?

First the academic performance of CPS can be better particular in neighborhoods that I come from and will represent as the next alderman of the 24th Ward. Financially CPS is broke and the decisions that have been made over the years by current and past mayor have caused this near financial collapse of CPS. This is why I believe in an elected school board, a longer day, and a longer year. I believe in this because our students come first and then we must look out for the teachers that educate them. I do believe that there should be a moratorium on charter schools because they are currently performing worse than the public schools. oNe of the first ways that CPS can close the budget gap is by diverting TIF dollars to the school district. In addition, when a LaSalle Street tax is enacted, some of those revenues need to go to CPS as well.

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 attract more employers to my ward by using TIF dollars to redevelop the ward and make it more attractive for businesses to come. I would also encourage local businesses to hire by offering TIF dollars to help them with the development of their business as long as they hire individuals from the community.

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 fifteen dollar minimum wage because I represent one of the poorest wards in the city and my neighbors and their families cannot survive financially on the current wage. I see and hear from people I know every day.

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

No, because there are other wards and poorer areas that could have benefited from the economic development that the Lucas Museum would bring to the city.

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 have improved public safety in the ward because I am a Police Officer. The city can improve city by enacting policies that will create jobs. Poverty is rampant in my neighborhood and poverty cause crime. Secondly, the city should hire more police officers to hit the streets. I also believe in the creation of neighborhood watch programs that can be partially funded by TIF dollars.

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

No. Most of those cameras are in poor neighborhoods and they are a financial burden to lower income families that cannot afford it.

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

Not right now. Chicago needs to fix the unethical practices and corruption that is running rampant first.

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

The number one priority for improving my ward is to actually use TIF dollars to fix infrastructure, support economic development, and improve safety. The residents in my ward are mostly concerned about crime and the lack of safety that they feel n our neighborhoods.

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

I am an ordained pastor and educator at Malcom X Virtual College.

City Council, 24th Ward