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City remapping | City Services / Infrastructure | Corruption | Crime / Safety | Development and Jobs | Fiscal responsibility | Historical preservation | Reducing Gun Violence | Schools | Transportation / Transit Issues | Ward office communication
I am not fundamentally opposed to a reduction in the number of aldermen, but based on my experience with our campaign and planning to provide service to nearly 60,000 widely distributed residents, I feel that concentrating power and responsibility into fewer aldermen is not the best plan. I do believe that the remapping process should be more transparent than it has been.
We need oversight and accountability. My main concern is that the new ward map will be confusing and frustrating for those living in it. It was done to inflict political retribution, not to reflect the neighborhoods or community. As a proponent of community education I plan on making the new 2 the best Ward to live in for discussion, planned improvements and participatory ward budgeting. I will also fight for more oversight for future mapping.
The recent remap was the perfect example of old politics at play. The new 2 was created due to a Chicago-style political move where the ward was comprised of areas the former Aldermen no longer wanted and pieced together. They didn’t think of constituents. As Alderman, I will treat each distinct neighborhood as its own entity with its own identity and needs. I will advocate for the creation of an independent body to oversee a fair remapping process.
The new 2nd Ward, redrawn with wholly different boundaries after the 2010 census, epitomizes the argument for more oversight in the redistricting process. Dramatically altered boundaries designed to fit a political agenda complicate community identity, cohesion, and representation. City Council should investigate alternatives to a legislative — and partisan — redistricting committee, including the creation of an independent commission to enact district boundary changes. Representative politics should not be punitive.
City Services / Infrastructure
I will work to ensure that our 2nd Ward residents receive their fair share of city services. Our campaign office has already helped to make sure that potholes are filled and that our residents know how to engage the city. We will continue to fight for our 2nd Ward and to ensure that city services are delivered in a timely and efficient manner.
Garbage, Potholes, Construction, Rats, Traffic… We all know a lot of issues come to the ward office every year. Tens of thousands of reports have been made in 2014 alone. But that’s what the Ward office is there for, and I want to make it easy to work with me and my staff. I will make sure each neighborhood is equally represented, with accountable city services for each block and full funding from our city.
As former Director of Constituent Services for the 2nd ward, I learned how to work with our city departments to get services delivered as efficiently as possible. I will be ready to start as Alderman day one. I have long established relationships with the five former aldermen of this newly created ward, critical to understanding the infrastructure and development projects planned and underway, and for getting major projects accomplished in the future.
Over the past four years the number of city workers has dropped from approximately 40,000 workers to 34,000, while the cost per employee has risen 2.3%. We need to balance cuts with our ability to provide timely and effective services to all citizens—particularly those most in need. Adequate staffing and funding in education, policing, public and mental health is essential to holistic community health and ward stability.
I will run a transparent alderman’s office and publish information about use of public funds. I support the office of the Inspector General and funding the current term of the Legislative IG and providing them the powers that they need to do their jobs.
There needs to be a cultural shift in the city council. The rubber stamping needs to stop. Those in power tend not to encourage oversight or independent investigations. I will hold myself accountable for my actions and be the most transparent Alderman in the city. I will fight against corruption and help hold others accountable. Regarding my campaign, I have direct support from other progressive aldermen who have started the work on fighting city corruption.
Chicago has had a long history of machine politics, back room deals, and clout-filled contracts and unfortunately it continues. The old way has done nothing but run this city into the ground. I will keep a critical eye on our spending, contract negotiations, and advocate for an internal fiscal audit. We need more oversight and transparency to cut the waste and start having City Hall work for all of us.
City government should strengthen active safeguards. This includes fully funding and vesting a single inspector general with the ability to investigate both the city council and mayor. We must also work proactively to expand ethics training for all city employees and forge an ethical workplace culture. Highlighting specific practices for reform—such as systematic abuses of the TIF program— as well as taking legislative action to expand transparency are necessary, further steps in combating corruption.
Crime / Safety
Our Chicago Police Department is a world leader in community involvement and tactical methods. We need to support them, call for statewide supporting legislation, and to fund more “beat cops”. I feel we should have more police available, on staff. Police presence keeps our homes and families safe.
The simple point here is that we need more police on the streets. By not hiring, and closing down the police stations, deployment problems are consistent and alarming. I have built a network of 10,000 neighbors working together on safety and crime awareness to assist our police officers, who are overworked with badly budgeted overtime. I will work to hire more officers and make sure they have the equipment needed for the job.
The new 2nd ward has very safe neighborhoods, but we have to be proactive instead of reactive. We need to maintain a strong police presence throughout the ward and be creative with our approaches. In partnership with the 18th police district, I created focus groups with residents and officers about problematic areas, and over one summer, put a stop to the drug dealers in Washington Park. I look forward to applying these techniques throughout the 2nd ward.
Earlier this year, we conducted a comprehensive poll that identified crime and gun violence as the most important issues for 2nd Ward voters. Advocating for education and essential services that reduce violence and criminal activity are my top priorities. I believe City Council needs to work to address revenue solutions to restore funding and presentation services. These resources are critical to stemming the epidemic of youth violence and gang activity, as well as supporting educational attainment.
Development and Jobs
I want to encourage economic prosperity. With residents’ input, I will support developments that enhance our neighborhoods while preserving their character to help bring good jobs to our ward. In our 2nd Ward, the future use of the Finkl Steel site is an important opportunity that I will work to carefully manage for the good of our Ward.
I will make sure the Finkl/Lakin/Guttman redevelopment stays mostly industrial, which would allow for new development centers or assembly work to come to the area. This would definitely increase the amount of jobs, but also redefine traffic routes for cars and bikes. Along Elston avenue as well, I will make sure cars and pedestrians can easily get in and out of the area. This would in turn draw more business to the Ward.
My approach to development will be to let the local community lead. Unlike my opponents, I have pledged not to accept developer contributions. I want to make fair-minded decisions, not swayed by paid influence, when it comes to projects affecting communities for decades. I am for economic development that complements and hires from our neighborhoods. I will hold regular job fairs comprised of local businesses, and take an active approach to vacant retail spaces.
The restaurant industry is a key driver of economic activity and employment in the ward. I developed a 20-point policy proposal to support existing and new restaurants and encourage investment. I would work collaboratively with area legislators to create a universal minimum wage for all Illinois residents to avoid any ‘race to the bottom’ relocations. Balanced economic and workforce development, through fair wages and programming aimed at continuing educational opportunities, produce a stable local economy.
I am not in favor of long-term borrowing to pay short-term operating expenses. As a city we do not do a good enough job of collecting revenue that is due and owed to us such as fines and fees. In addition, we can look at excess TIF Funds. In the case of a dire budgetary emergency, excess TIF funds could be used for general revenue purposes. One other option is a Chicago-based casino.
We need to tighten the ship, including a hard look at city spending, TIF reform and budget restructuring. I will look at new ways of paying off our school, pension and bond debt. The alarming rate at which we put off major reforms in our city spending is frightening. Right now working families are paying more for less. I think we need to look at city reform before adding taxes. Chicagoans are taxed enough.
Putting an independent in council is the smartest financial decision a voter can make. Clout contracts, backroom deals, corporate TIF giveaways run rampant. I will work to put an end to that in City Council. Additionally, in a ward office, menu dollars are extremely scarce; we have to be mindful of how each dollar is spent for the best use of the ward, and be creative in our problem solving to make the most of our resources.
Chicago faces tough fiscal challenges from pensions to funding for education and city services. Resolving them requires sober accounting in the present, and long-term planning for the future. We must abandon poor fiscal practices like the haphazard use of taxable bonds for prior debts and together, through the newly created Office of Financial Analysis, identify new revenue solutions and areas for streamlining. The City should be forthright and transparent with the public regarding any proposed solutions.
We have to balance the economic growth with the character of our neighborhood. I will work with residents and with developers to present solutions that benefit everyone.
Both homeowner education and neighborhood preservation are very important to me. I have worked with neighbors on the redevelopment plans for St. John’s Church and also volunteered with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Development concerns and the materials being used continue to plague various communities, but those living in a landmarked area also need to have more assistance in getting the permits needed to keep their homes from disrepair. I already am a resource for this.
My background in historic preservation bodes well for representing the new 2nd ward. We are fortunate to have many neighborhoods within or near historic districts. In addition to blocks of bungalows, greystones, and the like, 1920s commercial buildings and historic parks make for an architecturally rich fabric that greatly enhances our new 2nd ward communities. These historic resources should be a major consideration in future planning and community-led development decisions.
There is a rich and irreplaceable history in the 2nd Ward’s communities. At the ward level, we should encourage sustainable development that fits within the history and character of our neighborhoods, rather than the capricious, short-sighted decisions often meted out by City Hall. The creation of a long-rage ward plan and ward advisory organ that formalizes citizen input in the development process are two possible avenues to ensure a balance between heritage and economic development.
Reducing Gun Violence
The Supreme Court has spoken and we will have to abide by their rulings. I do not want costly legal challenges. On the other hand, I support the actions that we can take at the state and city level, including federal background checks, measures to prevent “shill buyers,” and strong penalties for a failure to report a lost or stolen firearm.
For a community to reduce gun violence neighbors need to coordinate efforts. If you have enough eyes and ears you can identify trouble houses and assist the police in knowing where to look. It takes an accessible and trusted line of communication for people to discuss and identify problems without fearing retribution. Public meetings are a start, but social media integration needs to happen for CPD to make bigger strides in this kind of reporting.
City-wide this is of great concern and I will be a strong advocate in council against gun violence. Although light in comparison to most wards, the new 2 is not immune. Streets and alleys need to stay well lit and regularly patrolled, with increased programming on street safety. Chicago’s city-wide summer youth job program led to a reduction of 46% in gun related violence. I will champion such proactive initiatives, which can have a ripple effect throughout the city.
As a Marine veteran, I understand the damage that guns can inflict when coupled with violent behavior. I will foster collaboration between law enforcement agencies and community organizations to keep illegal guns out of the 2nd Ward. I support the recent city ordinance that places reasonable regulations on gun stores that operate within the City of Chicago’s limits, as well as current policies limiting gun purchases to one a month and enforcing universal background checks.
I will ensure that our schools have mentorship programs and that our teenage residents know the value of remaining drug-free, of finishing their educations and/or continuing, and of having a good job to earn a living. I also support improvements in City Colleges and the expansion of recently-announced tuition assistance programs.
I’m on the LSC for Columbus Elementary, and I’ve learned many things that need to be done. We can start by creating more support programs for schools, ones which can provide access to resources for students and provide opportunities for growth and self reliance. Parents need to play a bigger role as well. I am concerned about the over-testing of students, classroom sizes being too large, and pressures on our teachers imposed by standardized testing.
We have good schools, but they can always be better with more resources. I will maintain open lines of communication with our schools, local school councils and the Chicago Teachers Union. I am a strong proponent of an elected school board, an issue I have worked on since 2012. Let’s take from the TIF surplus and bring back programs like P.E., art and music so all our children will receive a well rounded public education.
Educational outcomes depend on the wellbeing of families and communities: from local development, jobs, higher wages, to secure households. We should foster innovation that can provide empowering options for families, including sophisticated use and development of pedagogy (teaching philosophy), curriculum, educational institution types. We should also explore an elected school board that allows more public direction and engagement in citywide education policy.
Transportation / Transit Issues
2nd Ward residents walk, bike, and use public transit. Transportation enables economic growth by helping employees and helping patrons get to where they need to go. I generally support public transportation, and will consider requesting CTA to restore the #11 Lincoln Bus route. For all issues, including larger area-wide issues, such as airports and interstates, I will carefully consider studies on effectiveness, impact, and costs before coming to any decisions.
I ride my bicycle every week. Mostly I walk and I drive a car in the winter. I see the Ward from every perspective, and I see how congested it gets. My main focus will be to alleviate that. I think there are opportunities for this along the bridges (Cortland, Webster, North) with redevelopment and new CDOT traffic light studies. I will encourage more CTA options, and more citywide safety education for drivers and bike riders.
Transportation is a huge issue. We have congested streets, confusing intersections, and missing signage. The areas around our Red line stops have new developments increasing the population density, thus contributing to overcrowding. With tight budgets, we need new solutions. I’ve driven this ward many times with the head of Streets and Sanitation and have a strong idea of what needs work. As Alderman, I will use creative solutions: from graduate student studies to more express train service.
I have always been a proponent of mass transit and support expanded CTA opportunities, such as new lines and connectors, down south lake shore drive, and for Chicago and the Chicagoland area. The continued efficient movement of people and things will be the logistical challenge of our immediate future. I believe we must work with our state legislators to make this network a model for the nation.
Ward office communication
Our offices (we are planning two) will be open some evenings and weekends. Our campaign website, Bitanow.com has been in service since July. We will launch a similar website for the 2nd Ward. Social media like Facebook and Twitter provide informal communications such as CTA notices and Streets and Sanitation information. Not all 2nd Ward residents are web-savvy, so we also will use mailings, flyers, and community meetings with organizations to reach everyone.
The 2nd Ward is now drawn between so many different areas that, in my opinion, communication is going to be key to make it run efficiently. I make that promise, that each neighborhood will see me and have the chance to work with me and my well managed staff. You will see online and printed home-delivered newsletters, along with new community meetings and social media updates. I pledge to be an accessible, full-time Alderman.
I look forward to running a transparent, accessible ward office. As the only person running with ward office experience, I know I will be ready to work on day one. I will commit to doing satellite “pop-up” offices twice a month in various areas of the ward. Dollars are scarce so we will be creative in our communication and stay in touch with every corner of the new 2.
Staying in touch with all 2nd Ward constituents is of the utmost importance. With important decisions on finances, education, and economic development coming to a head, it is critical that the Ward Office communicate effectively and efficiently in order to invite resident involvement in decisions. I support requiring open hearings on proposals and formal reporting. Deliberate dialogue with city residents offers a framework for collaboration and resident opt-in rather than out of touch, unilateral decisions.
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