Candidate Full Name: Gabe Beukinga
Office: 27th Ward Alderman
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Site: www.gabefor27.com
Campaign Name: Friends of Gabe Beukinga
Campaign Office Mailing Address: 2811 W. 5th Ave, Chicago, IL 60612
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. What is the most important issue that you will address in your ward?
After meeting with thousands of residents, I have learned one of the biggest issues in our ward is education equality. With all the turmoil over school closings and re-assignments, it is critical to re-examine the steps necessary to improve Chicago Public Schools, especially those in the 27th ward. I believe the first step should be the continued push for an elected school board. With each passing school year, it becomes more apparent that our current appointed school board is operating with a political versus educational agenda. By virtue of their appointments, board members become indebted to the mayor. I believe we need representatives from the community making decisions about our youth's education.
Those who support the current appointed school board structure would like us to believe that parents and residents have some say so in the process. Sure, our local school councils have the ability to make recommendations, but recommendations are not decisions. An elected school board means stakeholders in the communities across our city will be making decisions about our student's futures. An elected school board will prevent well-heeled cronies of any mayor from getting lucrative business deals with Chicago Public Schools.
As alderman, I will be an independent voice in city council and will work with residents to provide better education for our youth.
2. What are your plans for helping fight crime in your ward?
After going door to door and listening to the concerns of the community, crime and safety concerns are an issue all across the ward. The issue of safer streets cannot be stressed loudly enough or often enough. The mayor has failed to live up to his campaign promise to put 1,000 more officers on the streets during his first term. Given the mayor won't live up to his word; residents must take a more active role in trying to make that commitment a reality.
I will strongly encourage and help craft strategies to form closer ties between police officers and residents; but it is clear there is a missing element of trust. I believe that gap can be closed by helping officers and residents engage more often. One way to do so is to have police officers become involved with the growing number of safety-focused organizations that are forming. I also believe we should increase our neighborhood safety organizations.
The police department needs to use money budgeted for overtime to hire new officers. Officers already on the force will get the needed time off to decompress. A large portion of the new hires' time could be spent with the neighborhood safety organizations. When residents and officers get to engage and discuss ways to improve safety, a trusting environment is created. I believe that when that kind of relationship is built, residents will be more willing to report crime thereby benefitting the community. I would also strongly urge department officials to develop a plan that allows police to patrol the communities in which they live.
I also plan to focus on creating jobs for everyone in the ward. For the past 10 years I have worked at a non-profit economic development helping small business owners find capital. These businesses are typically veteran-owned, woman owned, and minority owned and may struggle to get traditional financing. I have helped create hundreds of jobs over my career and I plan on bringing that expertise to the 27th Ward. Upon taking office, I will require that every new development or business relocating to the ward must hire people from within the Ward. It will not be a recommendation, but a firm requirement that I will be monitoring. I believe when everyone in our community can earn an honest pay check and get off the streets, it will naturally reduce crime.
3. What, if any, city assets would you consider privatizing to raise money?
I currently do not support the increase of privatization of public services. The parking meters and skyways are examples of total failures of privatization measures. When the skyway was leased, the price to drive it more than doubled, making it the highest toll-per-mile roadway in the US. The only people this is benefitting is the investors. The city no longer has control of the skyway and won't until its 99 year lease ends. The same goes with the parking meters which were grossly undervalued and leased for 75 years. Selling off public services and giving full control to investors only puts a band aid on an open wound. Politicians look good for closing the deficits in the short term but aren't fixing what has actually caused those deficits. That is what we should be focused on. In the future, I would be in favor of a blended approach where we could sell off a percentage but still maintain control and majority ownership. I believe with my business background, I will be able to craft new ways to make money for the city without hurting taxpayers.
4. Do you support or oppose the vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019?
I support the increase in the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019. I think it is unacceptable for anyone to work a full time job and live in poverty. I had several minimum wage jobs out of college and I could barely support myself and incurred a lot of debt. I will always work hard to get good paying jobs for residents in the 27th ward that allow them to thrive. I am concerned that in 2019, $13 may not be enough. We have to consider the high cost of living in Chicago and our minimum wage should be reflective of that.
5. Are you in favor of Chicago's Red Light Camera program?
I do not support Chicago's Red Light Camera program and I have been active in protesting this unfair and corrupt system for Chicagoans. Our current alderman has voted 100 percent of the time with the mayor and voted for red light cameras. These cameras are clearly not about driver safety but rather another way to rob our citizens for money. In fact, a recent study shows they actually caused more injury crashes overall than they prevent. These cameras are not accurate and are detrimental to families who live pay check to pay check and now have an outrageous red light ticket. When I am in office, I will fight to have these removed in a timely manner.