I believe we need true community policing with a data-driven approach. Crime is a major issue in our ward and it’s not going away on its own. We need more police and better training. It’s time we have an alderman that tackles this issue head-on and produces meaningful results to keep our families safe.The bottom line is that our current policing strategy isn’t working and I’ve yet to see anyone in power take the steps needed to address it.
Accountability and Results
We deserve safer neighborhoods and that means more officers. In other wards, aldermen are fighting for more resources to address crime. Whenever officers are put in our district it is unclear how long they’ll stay here. As alderman, I will, both have our officers’ back and make sure they have the resources they need to do their job. I will demand more police in our budget and continuity in those assignments so that personnel assigned here are accountable to the community.
We must address major crime by going after the illegal guns that fuel it. I believe the best way to reduce the number illegal of guns is to focus on state legislation to regulate all gun dealers. I advocated for the Gun Dealer Certification Bill that Governor Pritzker just signed into state law. The law will require all gun dealers to certify and includes security measures and training to help crack down on illegal straw sales that end with guns entering the black market. Of course, we must also recognize that 60% of illegal guns recovered in Chicago come from outside Illinois. Each year, Chicago Police confiscate over 10,000 guns from our streets and a strong national background check system would help reduce this number. We will not be able to fully address this issue until national politicians step up to pass real gun control with a strong national background check system. Since we can’t wait until that happens, we need to act locally. Lastly, as a transit hub, we need more and better security at our train yards to ensure that legal cargo stays legal and doesn’t flow into the black market.
We should do all of this and more and, as alderman, I will support creative solutions to protect our City from unscrupulous out-of-state gun sellers and traffickers. However, regulations alone won't end our problems with gun violence--we need to create job training and educational opportunities and support economic development to prevent individuals from becoming involved in crime before it escalates to firearms.
One simple step to help with safety is to place your address numbers in a clearly visible location within your alley. Doing so allows police and fire crews to best respond to emergencies. In the event of a break-in, the numbers allow police to quickly identify your location and better assess potential points of entry. In the event of a fire, fire crews may be able to save crucial time that could save lives and property. Request yours today: here.
Small property owners and local businesses have been taxed enough. While I understand we need revenue to run the City of Chicago, I don’t think that’s the answer and I would only look to property taxes as a last resort. We have all seen our tax bills climb. The $600 million property taxes increase voted on in 2016 is still being felt today either directly or indirectly through higher rents as homeowners pass through costs. We need to find more creative solutions moving forward.
Alternative Revenue Sources
My understanding of City finances and the challenges ahead will be invaluable to appropriately evaluate future financial proposals. I am a believer that we need to look at every possibility when it comes to new revenue streams including a casino, recreational marijuana, taxing retirement income, video gambling, a limited commuter tax, and municipal marketing before we look at property taxes as a solution. I also believe that there are potential partial privatization deals that could lead to smart investment by the City. One of my projects I spearheaded at the City was the creation of digital billboards on the expressway, which will raise more than $200 million over 20 years. My unique approach to problem-solving helped the city to find this new revenue stream without raising taxes, fines or fees. I’d like to find more solutions like that.
Pension Obligation Bonds
I believe that pension obligation bonds are false promises and not fiscally responsible. If the pension funds were to lose every cent of the pension obligation bond, taxpayers of Chicago would still be on the hook to pay for these obligations. Furthermore, the claimed arbitrage play is based on a rate of return set by the pension funds that has decreased in recent years and could fall even lower, thus eliminating all savings. Read More Here
Tax Increment Financing (TIFs)
I believe that reformed and carefully managed TIFs can be part of the solution to bring responsible economic development. For that to happen, each TIF needs to be individually and continually evaluated. They should only be used to spur growth, thereby creating revenue that would not have otherwise existed. All TIFs should expire upon completion of the project rather than on an arbitrary timescale.
Evaluating the Budget
I will be a unifying voice in City Council, working with both new and current aldermen to explore new sources of revenue and creative solutions for more efficient government. My understanding of City finances and the challenges ahead will be invaluable to appropriately evaluate financial proposals. In my time working with the CFO of the City, I personally worked with many aldermen and government officials on legislation both in and around government and I know how to communicate and reach consensus.
Casinos & Dispensaries
Listen to my response during Radio DePaul Interview about Casinos and Dispensaries and related challenges.
I believe that the history and culture of our neighborhood is what makes Lincoln Park great. As we continue to grow, I would like to make sure that we protect our longtime residents and unique architectural history while transforming our neighborhood into a modern destination. I will work to bring small businesses and shopping destinations back to our community; I will work as an advocate for a five year plan so we are sure we will have enough seats in our public schools so our residents can get the high quality education that our ward has to offer; I will work with CTA and the Department of Transportation to improve congestion and provide better transportation alternatives; and I will work to improve the safety of our streets so that this is a ward where people feel safe walking alone at night again.
I want to see General Iron gone and I know many residents do as well. I firmly believe that the service they provide does not fit in our current community and as the 43rd ward's next alderman, I will make it a goal to have them out of the neighborhood by next year. Furthermore, I have not, and will not, accept any contributions from General Iron or the family that operates it. We need to have a conversation about the impact on our community, and that’s hard to do with such major conflicts of interest. It's time we have a real conversation about the health and economic impact of bad actors on our community, starting with General Iron.
Full Service Ward Office
As alderman, I will bring back a weekly ward night every Monday evening and likely once a week in the morning at a rotating location. My goal is to have a ward office open 50 hours per week and open office hours to hear from businesses, developers and residents. I will be transparent and responsive, proactively communicating with residents and businesses when there are interruptions or modifications to city services. Additionally, your calls and other inquiries will be answered in one business day.
Preserving our Historic Buildings
I have represented historical districts in this ward, stopping demolition of historically significant buildings. I value our history and one of the things I love about our city is the architecture. Chicago has always been on the cutting edge of design and will continue to lead in this area, but we must preserve the essence of the past.
I am committed to bringing participatory budgeting to the 43rd ward, giving every ward resident over the age of 16 the voice to decide how to spend aldermanic "menu money", which is the approximately $1.3 million annually earmarked for each alderman to spend on infrastructure improvements in the ward. To my knowledge, I am the only 43rd ward candidate who has attended or had campaign staff attend the introduction to participatory budgeting hosted by PB Chicago and the Great Cities Institute because, rather than assuming I know how to best allocate those funds, I want to turn that power over to the residents of the ward.
People First Pledge
The pledge lists eight concrete actions and commitments that I promise to carry out as I seek elected office including; term limits for mayor and Council Chairmanships; limiting “aldermanic prerogative”; and submitting to oversight by an empowered Inspector General. Read the full pledge here
43rd Ward Transparency Pledge
Read it here. I was the first candidate for 43rd Ward Alderman to make all of my answers to "Special Interest" questionnaires public below. These questionnaires are often difficult to find for the average voter, hidden by candidates and the special interests looking for favors. I asked my fellow candidates to publicly release their answers and am proud to announce that my fellow candidates agreed to follow my lead. Read more on my stance on transparency.
Should we reduce the number of Aldermen from 50 to 25
Since August, I have been gathering signatures on a petition to add an advisory referendum to the ballot to reduce the number of Aldermen from 50 to 25. The number 50 dates back to the 1920s when it was decided it would be hard to balance the interests of different immigrant groups with less than 50 aldermen. I think it’s time to have a conversation about how big City Council needs to be. Listen to why.
I support term limits for executives like the Mayor, and powerful City Council committee chairmanships. I do not support term limits for Aldermen, which would serve to increase the Mayor's power in the face of a weakened council with very little institutional knowledge. With term-limited aldermen, that knowledge would reside almost exclusively in unelected bureaucrats and lobbyists. We need smart reforms like fair maps, better ballots access, and measures to foster civic involvement.
As a father and future CPS parent, I share your concerns about the direction of our neighborhood schools. I've already been active and engaged on this issue and regularly attend Local School Council meetings. We have 2 sons, Leo (age 3) and Henry (age 1). Leo attends Chalkboard Pre-School, an organization that threatened to close after 40 years in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. I’m proud to have organized the Chalkboard parents to help keep this valuable resource open for generations to come. No matter how or where we choose to educate our children, I will work to support and preserve high quality education in our ward.
5 Year Plan
Enrollment in CPS schools in the 43rd ward has increased at an average of 3% per year for the last decade and now many of our neighborhood schools are nearing capacity. This is a major issue that has yet to be publicly addressed by our elected officials. We need to have a real discussion about a five-year plan to address the needs sparked by continued growth in our ward including the impact of the Lincoln Yards development, which I believe must include plans for an additional school to reduce overcrowding. Access to quality public education should not suffer due to lack of planning.
I support a moratorium on all expansion of charter schools. While I believe that there is a place for charter schools within the public-school system as incubators and testing grounds for innovation that can then be applied system-wide, I do not believe that charter schools should be used as a replacement for public schools. This leads to divestment from public education and an erosion of uniform educational standards. I do support currently operating institutions that our communities are relying on as long as those charters are meeting academic standards.
Losing Our Character
We are losing our character in the 43rd ward as important neighborhood institutions like Salt and Pepper close and the spaces they occupied stay vacant. In addition to Salt and Pepper, in recent years we've lost Dunlays/D.O.C., Stanley's Kitchen, Sedgewicks and more. I don't want to see any more neighborhood businesses close.
I will be our neighborhood’s strongest advocate to encourage small business to locate here in the 43rd ward. I know this can be done because it’s happening in surrounding neighborhoods like Southport Corridor and Six Corners. We need our storefronts filled with vibrant local businesses and I will work with incoming Cook County Assessor Fitz Kaegi to update the economic incentives for landlords to encourage more storefront rentals.
Construction and Communication
I believe there is a lot of space for improvement in city services and communication in the 43rd ward. We need to better manage and coordinate city services so projects take a few days rather than a few months. This means getting a notice from your alderman about construction on your block before it begins rather than having to send staff home because the sidewalk is torn up when you arrive to open for the day and coordinating with all those involved. I will work to communicate with the Office of Underground Coordination (OUC), the organization that coordinates city improvement projects, and all those who are participating in a project to make sure it is completed as efficiently as possible and limited in how long it will affect residents of the ward.
Cutting Red Tape
We need to remove red tape that disincentivizes business owners from locating in the 43rd ward. This means not waiting 6-9 months for approval of a business sign or awning. We should allow art in vacant storefronts to rebuild our community and display our neighborhood's unique character. In other wards, the alderman helps new and existing businesses navigate City regulations and bureaucracy, resulting in vibrant commercial corridors we see in Southport Corridor, Six Corners, etc. I will be the active alderman we need and do more than just ask businesses to locate here; I'll help them get through the process.
A Public Servant
I believe there is a lot of space for improvement in city services in the 43rd ward. We need an alderman who knows what to do and who to call when a pothole isn't being fixed or a snow plow skips your street. Your alderman needs to follow up to ensure 311 requests are resolved in a timely manner rather than waiting for weeks to get a broken stop-light repaired. The bottom line is we need to look out for our neighbors again. As a long-time resident of the ward, I understand our community's needs and I love to solve your problems because they are my problems too. That is why you'll find me walking the sidewalks with a snowblower and a shovel every time it snows (see where here). I'll bring that commitment to service back to the office of 43rd Ward Alderman.
Road Construction can be a headache. We need to better manage needed projects. The organization that currently manages the coordination of these projects is called the Office of Underground Coordination (OUC). This group has experienced cutbacks in recent years and the short-term savings have had a long-term cost and impact. We need to reevaluate this organization and figure out how to better coordinate projects so that construction doesn’t impact our day so significantly.
Firstly, we need an alderman who is responsive to abatement requests. As alderman, I will follow up on rodent abatement to ensure that it's completed. I will also work with property owners to allow them to abate rodents with support from the City. These kinds of partnerships, along with evaluating new methods for abatement such as feral cats, rodent birth control and continuing with dry ice, can stop Chicago from being the Rat Capital of the country.
Garbage and Recycling
We need to re-evaluate the failed privatization of garbage and recycling. We need to be better at helping our environment and part of that is just making recycling more of a part of our day-to-day. I believe Chicago's recycling is unacceptable and we can improve in a number of ways but a good start is just by having our blue recycling cans picked up weekly just like our black cans to encourage residents to recycle and not be worried about the clutter.
I believe that infrastructure should be the number one priority for the Lincoln Yards Development. We have all struggled to go from Lincoln Park to the Express already. I’ve been advocating for an east-west bridge at Armitage for several years to address access and congestion. I was happy to see the developer adopted this proposal and that recent plans include five bridges. These bridges are extremely important for this development and its impact on the 43rd ward traffic flow and pedestrian access.
North Branch Park
There have been a lot of conversations about parks with the development of North Branch and specifically the Lincoln Yards proposal. I support to the concept of a park and that is why I was the first, and I believe to date, the only person to talk to Mike Kelly of the Chicago Park District about park plans in this area several months ago. I am happy to see that, instead of a stadium, there will be ample park space according to the most recent proposals from the developer. While I support parks and open space, I believe that infrastructure should be the number one priority for the Lincoln Yards Development.
I was excited to see that the developer recently backed down from initial plans to include a street-clogging stadium in the Lincoln Yards development. As soon as I learned of plans for a stadium/music venue, I made clear that it would put too much strain on current or even proposed infrastructure. I think that even limited office space would be a better use than a stadium that will strain the local infrastructure, but the best option would be additional parks.
Lincoln Yards must include a new neighborhood school to receive the expected surge of school-age children. After advocating on this issue for some time, I was excited that the developer committed to funding a newly built school as part of the project. Most of the Lincoln Yards development is in the school boundary of Oscar Mayer which is already at 90% capacity. We need to ensure that final approval of this project includes a clear plan laid out in the master plan with a funding commitment and timeline for construction.