Candidate questionnaires

Portrait of Willie Wilson

Willie Wilson

Candidate for Mayor

Willie Wilson

Candidate for Mayor

Portrait of Willie Wilson

Education: 7th Grade

Occupation: CEO-Omar Medical Supplies, Inc.

Home: Downtown

Age: 66

Past Political/Civic Experience: Member of Gov. Bruce Rauner's transition team


@electwillie on Twitter

Responses to RedEye's questionnaire

Q: What are the top two issues that should be on the minds of young Chicagoans?

Education and job creation

Q: Chicago counted more than 400 homicides in 2014. What is your strategy to lower homicides, shootings and crime in general?

My plan for the police department is based on the simple principle of the police as part of the community. The facts are that City of Chicago has more police officers per resident, than any of the top four largest cities in the country. In fact, the CPD has been among the top two in officers per resident since at least 1995, by a very large margin. All the other candidates, including Rham Emmanuel during his first campaign, called for more police because it is the easy way to say what you think people want to hear. However to add more police we would need to raise taxes on the little guy to pay for it, I won't do that. We need to stop that nickel and dime tax on the people thinking, it is destructive in the long run. I say the problem is management. As a businessman with interests in Chicago, Tennessee and worldwide, I know that the hard part about any endeavor is managing what you've got, not just spending more money. You've got to follow up, follow through and be held accountable. You've got to know your customer and speak with them all the time. Who is the customer of the police? THE PEOPLE! We need to reemphasize the motto slogan 'We serve and also Protect'. The police need to be trained to feel that service is in their job description.

Q: As mayor, how will you create new jobs in the city?

I believe in economic empowerment and stimulating the growth of communities through strong, new business opportunities. I propose to take city owned empty lots, vacant buildings and potentially other, larger buildings and sell them to members of communities and people who want to start new business for one dollar, as we have done before. I have also detailed my ideas to reform the TIF process. This will give those who have skills to make those properties productive again. This program will be linked to other economic development initiatives that I believe will include area banks, and other sources of loans, along with a city regulated mentoring program to assist and supervise those who want to start local business. The rehab of a single property can be the start of a business as well as an opportunity for new housing for another. Specifically, one of the most historically suspected corrupt areas of this city has been in the award of contracts to insiders and a network of campaign contributors of politicians. The City of Chicago hands out contracts with a value of over $2 billion dollars of goods and services each and every year. We must ensure that all of our citizens have a fair and equal chance for this powerful economic opportunity and that it is not stripped away in a back room. These opportunities must be awarded in the communities where the opportunities are. In July 2011 Emmanuel promised "steps to ensure competitive, accountable and open bidding, all of which foster trust and efficiency in contracting," but as of yet, almost four years later, there are no reports published with any results. He did began a "reverse auction " bidding process that allows companies to bid more than once by lowering their bid and that does save the city some money but there has been nothing to ensure a fair, open and equitable chance at opportunity to get those contracts. We propose to establish a Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board similar to those that have been so successful at the SBA, to ensure Equal Opportunity and Transparency for anyone interested in a contract with the City of Chicago. This board will be made up equally of community members, businessmen and lawyers, on a rotating basis, not long-term insider appointments. Communities will be allowed to appoint these individuals from their own community. We believe it is better to give our own community businesses new economic opportunity to create local jobs and build stronger local businesses' than to raise taxes on the little guy. I will propose legislation that any contract awards must be tied to community hiring requirements and verified. My proposed Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards would: • Receive a copy of bidders appraisal form. • Hold a follow-up meeting on any bidders concern. • Report on significant enforcement issues; and • direct all concerns in their report to the Mayor and to the Inspector General for action.

Q: Where does improving the CTA rank on your list of priorities? What specifically would you like to improve for riders?

Chicago's public transportation system is a critical part of our existence. The CTA is a large employer for the city, as well as a key means of revenue. We need to promote and encourage commuters to use public transportation but in doing so we must provide reliable, safe service. I would be amenable to working with CTA management to ensure responsible management of the system.

Q: Does the recently-passed minimum wage hike in Chicago go far enough?

I definitely support the minimum wage but as a businessman, I want to get our citizens beyond minimum wage. In my own businesses and experience I have helped simple, average people bring out the best in themselves and grow into the best employee possible. It is important that we move beyond the minimum wage and create jobs that pay more than minimum wage.

Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built on the lakefront's Museum Campus? Why or why not?

We need to brand Chicago as the best city in the world from many different points of view and our museums are clearly a great way to do that. Here again, exactly which place it should be built needs the input of the citizens, it needs to be discussed and decided in the open, not behind closed doors, not as a surprise announcement, not a top down decision but a bottom up process. Chicago is a tourist attraction and should encourage new museums and new entertainment to come to the city.

Q: What would you do to help bikes and cars peacefully coexist on city streets?

The new implementation of bike lanes and bike signals is a great start. This is a matter of getting both bikers and drivers to be more aware of each other.

Q: Do you support or oppose the decriminalization of marijuana?

I believe we spend a lot of money and time regulating and criminalizing the use, growth and distribution of marijuana. Our court system is back logged with cases dealing with minor drug offenses. We could also benefit from the revenue generated by taxing the substance. Law enforcement costs.

Q: What's your favorite movie filmed in Chicago?


Q: Pick one: Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls, Cubs, Sox, Fire?


Q: Which fictional political TV show do you watch: House of Cards, Veep, Scandal, The Good Wife, Parks and Recreation, Alpha House, Madame Secretary?


Q: What is your favorite spot to grab a beer in Chicago?

I don't drink

Q: Which is worse: ketchup on a Chicago-style hotdog or thin crust pizza?

Ketchup on a Chicago-style hot dog

Q: If you played hooky a la "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," how would you spend your day?

Spend the day in peace and quiet, watch a movie, spend time with my wife and rehearse with my band.

Q: If elected, do you commit to an interview with the RedEye within one month of taking office?