Cornell Wilson, Candidate for 2nd Ward Alderman

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Candidate Full Name: Cornell Wilson

Office: 2nd Ward Alderman

Email Address:

Web Site:

Campaign Name: Friends of Cornell Wilson

Campaign Office Mailing Address: 1130 N. Dearborn Street #2805

Phone: 312-669-4304

Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)

1. What is the most important issue that you will address in your ward?

The remapping process divided the ward and its neighborhoods along arbitrary lines, disrupting both sense of community and ward services. It is incumbent upon the next alderman to address the challenges of long-range development and providing equitable ward services to such a diverse area. This is compounded by the city as a whole's poor financial position, which affects all of our neighborhoods.

One of my highest in the intermediate period will be to establish a comprehensive ward plan on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, establishing a participatory budgeting process as well. Moving forward, we will need to make tough financial decisions regarding revenue to fully fund our obligations and restore services cuts. Resident opt-in and scrutiny are critical to oversight and ensuring that we do not repeat the past mistakes that have embroiled us in this financial crisis.

2. What are your plans for helping fight crime in your ward?

In June, my campaign conducted the first comprehensive poll of ward issues in which residents ranked public safety and gun violence as their greatest concern. I am a firm supporter of a community-oriented policing. At the ward level this means that beat cops should know and maintain a rapport with local residents; at a citywide level it means expanding public/non-profit relationships, including coordinating with the Chicago Public Schools on youth violence intervention in the classroom. We also need to increase manpower and switch from an expensive overtime based system to new hires and promotions to provide adequate funding to first responders.

As a Marine veteran, I understand the damage that guns can inflict when coupled with violent behavior. 'Straw' purchases of guns outside of city limits are an epidemic and they challenge jurisdiction specific legislation, as the entry point for illegal weapons are often City suburbs. Strengthening existing gun purchasing laws, IDs requirements, waiting periods, and background checks, and coordinating with neighboring jurisdictions to stem the flow of illegal guns are steps that Chicago and the State of Illinois can both take to reduce access to firearms.

3. What, if any, city assets would you consider privatizing to raise money?

At this juncture, I am wary to privatize any City assets before the passage of an Accountability and Transparency Ordinance that would mandate impact studies and better accounting practices. The city has been too quick to engage in "pawn-shop" public finance, offshoring public assets into private hands for fast money up front. We have seen several multi-generational, 99-year non-negotiable leases make it out of Committee and through Council with less than a couple days debate. We need sustainable, long-rage fiscal planning.

I have advocated for the funding and creation of a Congressional Budget Office type arm in the new Office of Financial Analysis. This body can provide sober financial analysis to the Council if we make sure to maintain its independence.

4. Do you support or oppose the vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019?

I have always been supportive of a minimum wage tied to inflation. I also understand that it is important to work cooperatively with business, trade associations and chambers of commerce to address their concerns. Ultimately we need the stability of both spending consumers and job-supplying business owners to maintain the vitality of the ward, and allow families a decent living.

Increasing the minimum wage means a broadening of the tax base, which also means increased revenue for the city.

5. Are you in favor of Chicago's Red Light Camera program?

We have seen a number of investigative reports on the program make it out of the Sun-Times and the Tribune. The results are troubling.

I support a full, formal review of the program that results in some sort of modification, and/or concrete transparency. Ticketing spikes and fluctuations in criteria for ticketing and yellow-to-red length are unacceptable technical glitches. Costs for improvement should be passed on to the contractor. We need to restore the public's trust.

Cornell Wilson

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