Candidate for City Council, 4th Ward
Education: Kenwood Academy 1989 Attended Chicago State University Depaul University for Project Management
Occupation: Mortgage Broker/Loan Originator
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.
The city of Chicago has for years practiced reckless borrowing trends which led to billions in unpaid debt, underfunded pensions and a fiscal crisis looming. We need to have an independent forensic audit of the cities financial structure and find not only additional revenue streams but also common sense ways of fixing our budgetary shortfalls.
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.
One of the biggest social justice issues facing this city is turning our backs on those heroes who constantly risked their lives to keep this city safe day in and day out. Because of the substantial debt and bad fiscal policy of past years, we are now met with a crisis which hits at the core of our city. Anyone who has paid into a pension fund deserves to receive what their owed. It's incumbent on us as a city council to find the funds necessary in the budget to pay these them what they are owed. Part of this process involves making tough spending cuts and also looking at additional or new revenue streams. I'm willing to work with my fellow city councilmen to address this issue as a priority.
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 believe we should direct TIF funds towards community based projects, demand accountability in its use, and prioritize them towards economically impoverished areas and projects that benefit the people who live and work in the community.
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.
In order to decrease gang violence and crime, a different approach to the problem needs to be taken. Our youths' lives can't just be left up to the system, working together we can make everyone part of positive growth. Introducing programs like Restorative Justice and partnering up with colleges like Roosevelt University, can ensure that every community member comes to the table and has an opportunity to engage in the important conversations about issues and concerns within the ward. Only with programs like this can real change happen because everyone becomes an accountable partner in the change our community needs.
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.
As elected leaders we should hold ourselves accountable as the standard for ethics. If the office of the inspector general is going to be productive, he/she needs to be given the authority to investigate legitimate violations among 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?
Chicago needs a democratically elected school board to accurately represent the voice of the people. I believe that electing leaders who have experience in the classroom, with students and their parents, is the only way to change and improve our school system.
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 provide local entrepreneurs with incentives to open businesses including using TIF funds to subsidize costs, while also pushing for common sense zoning laws that indoctrinate a sense of professionalism and free market practices which seek to better the community and revive the economic drought which has affected many areas of my ward.
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 minimum wage increase to $15 an hour. I believe that in neighborhoods like ours, jobs with decent pay are the only way for people to overcome poverty. The current minimum wage is $7.25, times a 40 hour work week comes out to only $290 a week. This is barely enough for a single income household. There is a direct correlation between young adults who don't have jobs, and crime and gang violence. If we gave all those young adults jobs where they felt like they were making a decent amount of money they wouldn't feel the need to partake in illegal activities to make additional money.
Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.
The city of Chicago provides an eclectic collection of museums an array of specialties. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would provide Chicago's lakefront with an additional option to enjoy art as well as attract thousands more in tourist each year.
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?
Public safety will improve when we invest in the safety and security of our neighborhoods. We need to hold perpetrators of crime accountable for their actions and create common sense laws to thwart continued crime. In addition we need to create new employment opportunities to combat crime, drugs and prostitution. Renewing the war on poverty will help stem much of the senseless criminal activity. Lastly, providing resources for job training and professional development to give those hardest hit by the economy the skills necessary to return to the work force.
Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.
While I understand the need to enforce traffic laws I also believe that any program which follows corporate profits and unfairly oppresses the working class needs to be reviewed.
Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?
As it stands, each alderman roughly represents about 53,000 residents per ward. The best way to determine whether we need more or less representation is to study population growth, based off of the census and make adjustments from there.
Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?
Chicago needs a democratically elected school board to represent everyone's interests. I believe that electing leaders who have experience in the classroom, with students and their parents, is the only way to change and improve our school system.
Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I'm not a politician and this campaign is my first time running for elected office!