Leslie A. Hairston, Candidate for 5th Ward Alderman

WLS logo
Friday, February 13, 2015

Candidate Full Name: Leslie A. Hairston

Office: 5th Ward Alderman

Email Address: hairstondem5@gmail.com

Web Site: http://www.leslieahairston.com

Campaign Name: Friends of Leslie A. Hairston

Campaign Office Mailing Address: 2325 E. 71st St. - Ste. B, Chicago IL 60649

Phone: 773-324-0005

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

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

Economic Development/Jobs: The city cannot simply focus on the downtown area. In my ward, I see potential in bringing in more national retailers, nurturing our growing base of small businesses and increasing opportunities related to tourism. I have discovered city officials steering quality businesses away from the South Side, in favor of low-wage Big Boxes, dollar stores and fast-food franchises.

I will continue working with my chambers of commerce to identify trends, demographics and areas of value to potential businesses. I have already attracted quality enterprises by personally seeking them out and attending business conventions. We now have an array of previously unavailable services and flagship companies, some of which are expanding their presence in the ward. The majority of managers and employees hired have been from the ward. I created a Special Services Area not only to ensure the upkeep of a commercial district, but also to hire the difficult to employ. I am currently involved with negotiations to replace a major brand name grocer, which closed all its Chicagoland stores.

In the "big picture," the South Suburban Airport presents a huge opportunity to address the jobs issue, despite attempts by the last to two mayors to undermine its completion. The FAA says that 10 airports the size of O'Hare are needed by 2020. If Chicago is to remain the transportation hub of the nation, then we must be able to capture the increase in air travel instead of diverting it to other hubs such as St. Louis, Denver, and Dallas-Ft. Worth. We have lost hundreds of jobs to Indianapolis and Cincinnati, because there wasn't room at O'Hare and Midway for companies to expand. The inaugural phase of the SSA will create 15,000 direct and indirect jobs at every skill level. Many of these jobs and other associated revenue generators will have a direct economic impact on South Side communities like mine, as well as all of the Chicagoland area.

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

Our working-class residents have been most affected by issues related to lack of job opportunities - particularly youth crime and nuisance behavior. My office has approached safety/security comprehensively in partnership with the police, businesses, community groups, block clubs, and schools, with whom we have partnered to expand after-school programs and sponsor positive activities for young people. We maintain an excellent relationship with ward district commanders, CAPS and beat officers. This is particularly important given the frequent changes in police personnel and practices. I make sure local police representatives know we expect two-way communication and prompt response. They make presentations at my ward meetings. Both they and my constituents know I want to be informed personally and immediately of major problems.

For accountability to work, citizens have to demonstrate they are paying attention and willing to support improvement. My office has held "What To Do When The Lights Go On" conversations between police, youth, parents and lawyers about expectations they have of each other and to improve relations between them. We assist residents form "phone trees" to report negative activity and show engagement in being part of the solution. We host Take Back Our Streets, "positive loitering," public roll calls and back-to-school events that convey responsibility at all levels. We are also vigilant about problem properties, ensuring that landlords meet their legal obligations, as well as that tenants understand their rights and responsibilities. Our "squeaky wheel" efforts are paying off and we expect them to play an important role in the future.

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

I achieved a national reputation for my stand on stronger oversight, more transparency and thorough advance cost-benefit analysis regarding privatization of city assets. I was one of a handful of aldermen to oppose the Midway Airport and parking meter deals precisely because of the flawed process. I am a co-sponsor of the Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance which establishes a process to provide for public input and City Council review of any proposed City privatization plans.

I have seen no evidence privatization benefits the city. To the contrary, we have experienced rising costs, decreased city control, loss of good paying jobs for residents, unresponsiveness to poor service, and increased exposure to waste and fraud. It serves as a short-term way to avoid creatively addressing systemic budget shortfalls. I favor a moratorium on privatization, as well as revisiting several previous hurried deals on both legal and benefit grounds.

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

I co-sponsored the $15 minimum wage ordinance and supported the $13 minimum wage ordinance the City Council recently voted to approve. Low-wage jobs only feed the cycle of poverty. Taxpayers end up shouldering the cost of benefits, health care and social services not offered by major low-wage employers. A range of experts have long said the most effective and fair way to improve the overall economy is to increase the purchasing power of the majority of employable people.

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

No, it seems rife with manipulation and misapplication. It overly burdens average citizens, with little evidence that it improves safety.

Leslie Hairston

Related Topics