Ten candidates face four community groups in West Town

Date: 
02/11/2019
MikeQuigley

Congressman Mike Quigley started the evening with encouragement about voting

Informative chunks of knowledge were presented by ten candidates at an event sponsored by Chicago Grand Neighbors Association (CGNA), East Village Association (EVA), Smith Park Neighborhood Alliance (SPNA), Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association (UVNA) and West Town Neighbors Association (WTNA) at Roots Pizza, 1924 W. Chicago Ave., on Mon., Feb. 4. 

Mike Quigley, U.S. Representative for the Illinois' 5th District started off the evening by encouraging everyone to learn about the candidates and then get out and vote. He reminded everyone that the local elections are of particular importance and that every vote counts. 

JudithGethner

Judith Gethner

Moderator Judith Gethner, CGNA, added audience participation to the evening by asking election trivia questions throughout the introductions. 

Candidates

All candidates were given the same question prior to the evening and each was allotted four minutes to respond with no questions allowed from the audience.

What change do you think is necessary and what is one specific action you will take if elected to make that change and what impact will it have for our constituents who live in your neighborhood? 

While most did not answer the original question, they all gave the standing room only crowd an impression of themselves and what they might do in office. 

AValencia

Anna Valencia

Anna Valencia, who is unopposed in her City Clerk position, was the first of ten candidates to step up to the mic. Emanuel appointed Valencia to the post in December 2016, replacing Susana Mendoza, who won a special election to become state comptroller. 

Equity and access is what she believes her office is about. "I believe that the next generation of leaders coming up need to listen because people in the community know what they need and we have to bring the resources there." 

In keeping with the concept of meeting people's needs, Valencia talked about addressing those who are in debt due to fines and those who financial cannot afford to pay for a full year sticker. The answers are a forgiveness program and a new four-month city sticker. 

1st Ward Aldermanic seat

DLaSpata

Daniel La Spata

Witnessing, experiencing and feeling the emotional and economic insecurity that his parents dealt with as he was growing up, Daniel La Spata made his early career choice. "The fight I have been involved in has been changing the policies and building the developments that make sure everyone's home is safe, decent and affordable," he explained. 

While door-knocking on the campaign trail, he has repeatedly heard people say that:

  • they couldn't afford to move into this neighborhood today
  • they send their children to private schools because they don't trust public education system
  • they are afraid about coming home at night because of crime
  • they hear and see about the 1st Ward zoning process being good but then they see campaign dollars roll in from the developers and their attorneys 

La Spata believes there needs to be a more inclusive community based zoning processes. "It is one thing to have a good process and another to have campaign dollars coming from the developers and their attorneys. Why should we trust the process." 

La Spata pledges to take no developer related donations and lists his major issues as being affordable housing, education and cleaning up government 

AldrMoreno

Proco "Joe" Moreno

Alderman since being appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley to fill Manny Flores' 1st Ward seat in 2010, Wicker Park resident Proco "Joe" Moreno countered La Spata's points about engaging communities in development decisions. 

Talking about his development review process, Moreno referred to CGNA and EVA as he explained that he works with seven different groups throughout the 1st Ward. He feels strongly that it is important to work with each one as the needs and interests of each organization may be different.

He mentioned several schools which have improved over the years including Talcott which became the first level one school of the 15 in the ward. "We put $25 million into Clemente which got off probation. We've put $80 million into our schools and nine schools are at level one or level one plus."

He went on to encourage residents to become involved with the schools and their school councils.

He ended with talking about safety. "The 12th Police District leads the City in reduction of crime," which he also pointed out was a result of community involvement and an increased police force. 

Just before speaking to the group, Moreno was interviewed by WGN9 about one in a series of actions and text messages that are putting him in the headlines

2nd Ward Aldermanic seat

Bhopkins

Brian Hopkins

While 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, a Lincoln Park resident, has no opposition on the ballot, he vowed to take all opportunities to participate in election events. 

He began by saying that the one thing he wants to focus on is ethics reform. 

"A little over three years ago I voted in favor of one of the most comprehensive extensive ethics reform legislation in the history of the Chicago City Council," Hopkins said. 

There were two proposals at that time. One that he voted for and the other "that the media and others felt was better and we are continuing to have that debate today." 

Highlighting the main differences of those proposals he said, "One included the authority of the inspector general to periodically examine aldermanic offices, the other one did not. And, that's the one I voted for." 

His current vision is to have aldermen's offices and City Council committees audited by the same auditing firm selected to do the annual city wide audit. 

On background
The 2016 efforts for reform went beyond the scope of a financial audit. Below are three different reports from 2016 and an editorial that shows which aldermen voted Yea and Nay. 

Illinois Policy report prior to the vote

Statements about what oversight could/should/will look like

Breakdown of how the ordinance passed

Editorial showing the vote 

26th Ward Aldermanic seat 

RMaldonado

Roberto Maldonado

Like Moreno, 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado was originally appointed to his aldermanic seat by Daley. Since 2009, he, like Moreno, has faced various opponents but continues to hold his seat. 

Abiding by the original question for the event, what change is needed in the 26th Ward, Maldonado said, "What needs to happen is to bring more affordable housing to the 26th Ward. 

"It is almost impossible for working families, some of whom have lived there for more than 30 years, to buy a new home.

His commitment is to build 485 new affordable units at different levels of development. That would be by the end of his next term, if, he said, he has the opportunity to return to office. 

The details about those plans is to have 335 units go in along Division from Western to California with another 150 on Cortland and Ridgeway. Those units would be 100% project based, meaning that working families will be able to spend 30% of their income on housing and the remaining 70% would be subsidized. 

"That is the only way we can bring about diversity into the 26th Ward. I don't want to see high rise condominiums I'd rather see high rise affordable housing," said Maldonado. 

DHerrera

David Herrera

David Herrera, whose family has been in the area since the 1950s, says the ward is and needs to continue to be diverse. 

With a background in economics and finance, his focus is aimed at job creation, which he explained is needed for sustainability. 

He would change some zoning to allow for live-work and light manufacturing, providing economic growth that in turn provides for addressing safety issues. 

After school programming would be one of the benefits of these activities which would add to the quality of life for area residents. 

TSiaw

Theresa Siaw

An owner of several businesses, Theresa Siaw says that the community stood behind her 100% to "rebuild our clinic. What I'm doing to give back to the community is to be alderman and be the voice for everyone in the community." 

Acknowledging the diversity of the ward, like Maldonado and Herrera, she points out the deficiencies fall into:

  • Economics
  • Basic services that could aid in addressing economic needs
  • Youth programming
  • Crime 

As alderman, she sees involving the many cultures in the community. She believes that involvement will help in reducing crime. 

To aid in building the local economy, Siaw sees bringing in more resources and making sure that crime is going down. 

She believes that economics could be better with grassroots business development but there is no programming to address that in the ward. 

Expressing much concern for youth in the neighborhood, she explained that she donated $35,000 to Roberto Clemente High School for a six-week summer program that kept 340 youth off the streets. 

While she agrees with her two opponents that there should be more affordable housing, she believes that "affordable housing" needs to be defined. 

Chicago Treasurer
Incumbent Kurt Summers is not running again but three are contending for the position. 

MConyearsErvin

Melissa Conyears-Ervin

Melissa Conyears-Ervin was elected as the 10th District member of the Illinois House of Representatives in 2016. As such she says that it was important to her that she be a voice of the diverse population in the 10th District. In her district there is a complete socio-economic mix of residents from the underserved to affluent.  

Her background includes 15 years in corporate America before getting her masters in finance. As a Chicagoan, she feels that it is important that the Treasurer be someone who is independent and a watchdog of "our" money, a "protector of our dollars." 

"Many residents are banking at currency exchanges and taking loans at payday loan services, we need access to the banking industry because that is our money," says Conyears-Ervin. 

As a single person she was able to go into an assistance home buyers program to purchase her first home,  but they do not appear to exist anymore. As Treasurer, she vowed to foster a relationship between such programs with the banking industry and have access to affordable housing. 

"When I become City Treasurer, I will be bold and unapologetic when it comes to fighting for working families." 

APawar

Ameya Pawar

Ameya Pawar is the Alderman of the 47th Ward. He declared to run in the governor's race in January 2017 and dropped out in October saying that he did not have enough funds. 

"President Trump talks about low unemployment and the economy is doing well and how well the markets are doing and how America is great again because the stock market is booming. Trump will talk about how employees are receiving bonuses and how wages have gone up," said Pawar. 

However, he stated the statistics are different in the Chicago:

  • 26% of Chicagoans live below the poverty line
  • one out of three parents cannot afford diapers
  • 95% Americans live at the poverty line or a little above it, one pay check, one job loss or one medical bill away from utter financial disaster 

The Federal government passed a $1.2 trillion dollar tax cut. Primary beneficiaries (35%) of that is to go for foreign sovereign welfare funds. "That means that we are literally bankrolling and providing tax cuts for other countries to finance programs in their countries that are too radical for us to have here today." His examples were universal basic income, Medicaid or healthcare for all and affordable housing. 

His point is that the rhetoric does not match today's reality. 

In City Council he has been part of affecting some change like raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing paid sick leave pay and while that is great "those are just basic human dignities. It is not moving the needle or not addressing income and equality in any real way." 

"Investments we make are a reflection of our values and our values should be reflective in the investments we make," says Pawar. His goals are launching a public bank, taking on and refinancing student loans, re-investing in affordable housing, investing in our communities. He sees going big and using the City's $7 billion investment portfolio to work for the residents. 

PGariepy

Peter Gariepy

Peter Gariepy is the only one in this race that is not already holding an elected position, is a Certified Accountant and has an accounting background. 

Gariepy describes the City's fiscal status as a "perilously situation," because of the gross debt of $42 billion and the $28 billion pension deficit. "In four years 18% of all the City's spending is not going to schools, not going to first responders or infra structure, it is going to pensions." 

"Currently $1 billion is put into pensions annually. If we put every TIF dollar (reported to be $660 million in 2017) on top the $1 billion we are still $497 million short by 2023," explains Gariepy. 

"There are a lot of crazy ideas that have come up in this race. Anyone who makes you a promise without a path, that is hollow." 

Warning that there are solutions that people are suggesting that do not make sense, he explained the public bank concept. 

The City has no authority to have a bank. There is only one public bank in the country. It was created 100 years ago and it is in North Dakota. 

"There is a bill HB107 in Springfield since 2015, which is to create a state bank but it spreads the risk not in Chicago but across the State," explained Gariepy. 

"To open a public bank will cost $4 billion. One of the proposals to fund that cost is to take it from pensions, by liquidating them and putting the money in the public bank where the funds will not be guaranteed," says Gariepy. "The Federal government is not funding them but taxpayers would be." 

He pointed out that whoever is elected will be the one who will be making the decisions for the City which ultimately means he/she will be managing City residents money. 

To hear the entire event, go to CAN-TV.

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