CRIME & PUBLIC SAFETY
Violence and crime has plagued our streets for decades with no end in sight. We need people in office who understand the streets, who have been on the streets, and who understand what needs to happen to stop this mayhem. Chicago has weekends when more than 100 people are shot. Since New Year’s Day 2010, there have been more than 12,000 shootings in Chicago and more than 14,000 people hit by bullets. Think how staggering those numbers are. Who of all the candidates can be a voice to stop this senseless violence? Who knows the Public Safety operations?
In the 47th Ward, we have seen a spike since 2014 in numerous categories of crime including theft, robbery, criminal sexual assault and burglary, with many other categories remaining constant. In order to stop the crime, every ward has different needs. Here in the 47th Ward, we need more beat officers, foot patrols and bike units which are the heart of any department. I believe the city has gotten away from that.
Unfortunately many of our resources are pulled towards the lake and Wrigleyville areas. Our ambulances our rarely in the area and many of our officers are pushed east. Additionally, we could also benefit from some specialized units to operate in the area that often is sent to other communities, such as a traffic unit on Irving Park Road and other main streets. On high profile days during as parades or summer holidays, our tactical teams are sent to other parts of the city. As your Alderman, I will ensure we get back to the beat in our ward and work directly with our officers to ensure these numbers go down.
For other parts of the city, I will advocate for additional federal assistance and the State’s Attorney’s Office to keep violent offenders off the streets and stop this revolving door that leads to shootings day-in and day-out.
The consent degree is not the answer people are saying it is. I will work to expand community relations, improve CAPS programs and programs where CPD and CFD work with the youth of city such as CPFTA (Chicago Police Fire Training Academy), and get the city to put an additional ambulance in our ward. The city recently put five new ambulances in service and even though we have one of the highest call volumes in the city, we didn’t get one. That is unacceptable.
AFFORDABLE & SENIOR HOUSING
The 47th Ward has grown into a vibrant and wealthy community. This often comes with housing issues. Many long-time residents have been forced to sell or are consider selling as rising property taxes continue to swell with the cost of living in the ward.
For any new large-scale housing developments, we could prevent “opt-outs.” In developments with more than 10 units, developers are required to allocate 10% of the units as affordable housing. Currently, developers can pay a “fee-in-lieu-of” instead of providing the affordable units on site. This must change. Additionally, we need to create family-sized apartments and condos with 3 and 4 bedroom units in the ward. This will allow many families that want to stay in the area but can’t afford it as their families grow do so.
We have to make it easier for landlords to convert unfinished or unproductive spaces into apartments. The City should allow seniors to freeze their property taxes until the property is sold. The State of Illinois Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral Program, available for low-income seniors, could be expanded and pushed for in gentrifying neighborhoods. Additionally, this program could also be extended to seniors at higher income levels who own and live in multiple family homes.
I would propose to increase affordable housing units for seniors by creating another senior housing facility in the ward using public and private funding. I believe that we can use the some of the vacant properties in the ward for this. I also would put protections in place for multi-family buildings that have been taken down for large single-family homes.
Finally, I would also work with Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Department of Public Health to establish a program where our most at-risk seniors are checked on and assisted by Senior Task Force that can be implemented by a ward by ward basis.
PROPERTY TAXES & TIFS
It is no secret that cost of living in Chicago continues to grow due to the increased fees and property taxes with no end in sight. We have to continue to work to keep the cost of living within the city as reasonable as possible. In order to do this, we need to evaluate all current contracts, offer property tax incentives for those adding square footage to existing housing and provide further exemptions.
Also, currently the City has programs such as Emergency Heating Repair Program that are available. Programs like these should be broadened to assist property tax payers that may not qualify under the current requirements.
Our current Alderman has done a great job using TIFs correctly. He pushed for added transparency and I would further encourage this. TIFs have been shown to be effective and have restored blighted areas when used reasonably. Some of our current TIF funds were recently used to assist in the remodeling of Lakeview High School and I would continue to use this money for those specific projects in schools and to improve are parks such as the Wells and Chase Park pool areas and add on or improve the interior of these structures.
I believe TIFs are valuable when used correctly. However, greater public debate should be in incorporated into any use of these funds, especially at times when schools, city services, and pension funds are in fiscal emergencies. On an annual basis, the City declares a portion of the funds in an active TIF as surplus, returning the proportionate share of the funds to the applicable local taxing districts. We need to evaluate the criteria set of what is considered a surplus to ensure greater amounts are returned.
47th Ward TIF Districts
- Lawrence/Broadway TIF #109
- Clark/Montrose TIF #70
- Ravenswood Corridor TIF #139
- Western Avenue North TIF #84
- Western Avenue South TIF #85
- Addison South TIF #150
- Lincoln/Belmont/Ashland #28
Click here for a map of the 47th Ward TIF Districts.
TRANSIT ORIENTED DISTRICTS
I’m in favor of progressive transportation developments. The current Transit Oriented District (TOD) ordinance, which has been amended a few times, can be further improved by increasing its distances as well as ensuring the bus line TOD is implemented to benefit the wards and citizens not just the developers.
We need to make sure that community input is a vital part of any TOD development and that it maintains the integrity and diversity of an area. We should have incentives to support affordability and allow all residents to share in the benefits of new developments. We need to make public transit more accessible to a neighborhood and continue to work with our State and Federal partners in this effort. We need our transit system to serve as the backbone for significant new urban growth and encourage further uses and efficiencies of this system. As of 2018, to qualify for TOD, properties must be within 1,320 feet of a CTA or Metra train station, unless the property is on a Pedestrian street in which case the distance doubles to 2,640 feet. I think by adding on to these distances, we can add more housing in areas of need. I know I can be a strong voice in housing and transportation of the future.
CITY SERVICES & ENVIRONMENT
As somebody that has worked extensively in city services, I know what it takes to improve and efficiently deliver top quality services. Currently, city services keep decreasing while the cost placed on residents is increasing. The Grid system that was put in place is not as effective and efficient as we think. Alleys are running rampant with rodents and large pickups remain outside for weeks. I think we need to re-evaluate the Grid system. Various reports have shown savings are not what they were originally portrayed to be and other departments such as Forestry have fell behind. I believe city services should be brought back to the ward to allow for more timely services.
The city used to plant more than 7,000 trees annually. This number has since been reduced to approximately 3,500 because of lack of crews and trees available. Additionally, the Green Ash Bore has accounted for tens of thousands of trees a year being removed. We need to get back to being “urbs in horto” – a city in a garden. We have gotten away from green spaces and need to get back to this.
A good start would be to bring back the Department of the Environment which has removed under the current administration.
For far too long, the city has pushed aside the pension burden and its citizens are now being asked to bail them out. As somebody affected by the pension obligations, not only as a homeowner but also as a city employee, we need to come up with a comprehensive plan that fully funds the obligations. This could be done by working with city unions, evaluating formulas used and working with city council to dedicate funds from new streams of revenue – such as a Chicago Casino, optional video gaming and legalization of recreational marijuana. We need to ensure that we have written in legislation that a certain amount of funds must be dedicated from these streams to pension obligations. If not, I’m afraid the city council may misuse these funds for more downtown riverwalks and DePaul Stadiums. No longer should we force our taxpayers to cover the burden of the poor management of previous administrations.
The Chicago Casino could be centrally located and video gambling could be approved in a ward-by-ward basis that is voted on by the alderman. Certain wards are affected more by the suburban neighbors that have chosen video gaming.
The schools of the 47th Ward have made great strides to become some of the best in the city. I will ensure to continue this success if elected. I will continue on infrastructure improvements, and work with Grow Community, school councils, and advocate for funding from CPS for capital improvement projects. I would propose a moratorium on any new Charter Schools. All CPS Schools need to be properly funded and I will work with the CTU to address testing and the Illinois Education Funding formula. I’m in favor of an elected school board as long as all wards have a voice. One ward or section of the city shouldn’t have control over the entire board. I would ensure that before we give developers and private institutions city funds, that schools are funded and staffing levels are where they should be to give a top quality education to students in the 47th Ward and across the city.
The 47th Ward is an area filled with vibrant and unique shops, restaurants, art studios and companies. We need to protect these businesses and the city needs to play an active role in helping them thrive. The cost of rent and doing business in Chicago continues to rise and more small business owners are feeling the crunch. We needed to enact a series of reforms and expand on ones that were recently done back in April, 2018 which included yearlong outdoor permits. We must expand on this in our commercial/industrial corridors and push for measures that other parts of the city have access to such as Retail Thrive Zones and Neighborhood Opportunity Funds. I would continue to encourage pop-ups and other short term uses. All plans regarding any new developments in these corridors should be posted online and public comment/input should be available throughout the process. Also, I would evaluate the pubic way use permit fees and Chicago Sign Code to ensure that our businesses are successful.