Democratic candidate for Board President
Responses to our questions
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My record in eight years as the most independent Alderman in one of the city's most diverse wards and as a long-time civil rights attorney shows that I know how to work with and for everyone, not the insiders.
As Alderman, I created 8,000 jobs in my ward, more than any other Alderman, as a result of aggressively attracting new businesses to the ward . I created the Safe Passage program to ensure that Chicago's school children can get back and forth to school safely in crime-infested neighborhoods.
I voted no on bloated budgets, stood up to bullying from the Fifth floor, fought to increase the number of police officers on our streets, and spoke forcefully against the closing of 54 schools in primarily minority neighborhoods that so divided our city. That's my record as Alderman, and stands alone as a reason Cook County Democratic voters should nominate me for County Board President.
The current President has failed miserably on almost every front, beginning with a record of broken promises. She campaigned primarily on one issue. She vowed to rid the county of the dreaded one-cent "Stroger sales tax," even shamefully using a Ben Franklin actor to persuade voters. Voters across the county, including me, bought it.
As everyone knows, not very long after winning re-election on this promise, she brought the entire one cent sales tax back. Under her leadership, Cook County has become more broken than ever before. The insiders who have run our county have ruined it. The sweetened beverage tax was only the final straw. It begins with a corrupt, unjust and discriminatory property tax system in Cook County.
Recent media reports and academic studies highlight the intentional discrimination against poor and minority neighborhoods and the under-assessment of high value commercial properties. This is not acceptable. For nearly eight years, the incumbent has done little more than cheerlead for the current system and the Assessor.
From day one, I will fight to change the property tax system to one that treats every resident and property owner in Cook County fairly. As the campaign progresses, I will discuss specific proposals for the next President to be fully engaged in the effort to reform the property tax system. It will be my highest priority.
Multiple studies have shown that more businesses and people have fled Cook County than any other county in America. There is a reason for that. At every turn, the incumbent latches on to regressive taxes that hurt those who can least afford to pay them the most. The current budget is still not balanced. Her inept attempt to impose the wildly unpopular soda tax has led to one huge budget debacle. When the public rose up and forced the repeal of her soda tax, she attempted to impose, dictator-like, budget cuts to an independent state-created Constitutional office. That was met with a costly and likely successful lawsuit, resulting in what will be a further unbalanced budget.
Under current leadership, suburban Cook County lags far behind in job creation, as outlined in the State of Illinois Department of Employment Security "Where Workers Work" report. Of all the geographic regions in the Metropolitan area, suburban Cook County is the only region that has fewer private sector jobs than before the Great Recession.
Since 2010, even the City of Chicago has produced twice as many jobs as suburban Cook County, percentage wise, and neighboring Will County has produced nearly four times as many. Under current leadership, according to reports I have received from Cook County Commissioners, minority contracting is far below the level it should be, perhaps only one-third the level required by law. Recent reports included more than $200 million in hospital and health care contracts with only a small fraction awarded to minority contractors.
Under current leadership, Cook County government has been largely silent as it relates to the spike in violent crime during the past few years. As Chicago struggles to hire more police officers, and some Commissioners call for outside help from as far away as the UN, several thousand additional crime fighters are already being paid by Cook County taxpayers in the Sheriff Department.
We have heard from many of these Sheriff's Deputies who also wonder why there is not more cooperation between Cook County and the City of Chicago when it comes to stemming the senseless violence in our streets every night. Under current leadership, county spending is out of control. Her first budget in Fiscal Year 2011 was $2.9 billion. The current budget is $5.36 billion.
In eight years, the Cook County budget has increased 83.6%, almost ten times the rate of inflation. The rate of inflation from 2011-2017 was 8.8%. This level of increase in spending at any government level is not sustainable. Like every family in Cook County, its government must begin to live within its means.
When I am County Board President, if and when additional revenue is needed, it will be as a last resort, not as a first impulse. It will not be imposed in dictator-like fashion from the top down. Instead of last-minute backroom budget deals, I intend to have year-long budget and town hall meetings in every part of the county.
I intend to run on my strong record as Alderman of the 2nd Ward, while pointing out the obvious every day-that Cook County is poorly run and needs new leadership.