Candidate Full Name: Mark Thomas
Office: 44th Ward Alderman
Email Address: email@example.com
Web Site: www.voteformarkthomas.org
Campaign Name: Friends of Mark Thomas
Campaign Office Mailing Address: 3240 N. Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. What is the most important issue that you will address in your ward?
The single most important issue that I have heard while talking to voters has been crime. Lakeview is a relatively safe neighborhood when compared to other areas of the city, but even here we face robberies, assaults, drug crimes and more. In fact, just a few days ago two people were violently attacked and robbed near Ann Sathers restaurant on Belmont.
The residents of my ward are fed up, and it's time to do something about it. That's why I am making crime my number one priority as a newly-elected Alderman.
2. What are your plans for helping fight crime in your ward?
Crime is a business, and if I am elected as Alderman in the 44th Ward I will take steps to disrupt that business and make Lakeview an uninviting neighborhood for people to commit crimes. Part of the reason why we are dealing with crime as a priority issue in the ward is because the 19th Police District, which services Lakeview, has lost more than 100 police officers since 2011. We need to get those officers back, as well as a total of 1,000 new officers city-wide.
But I'm not just going to sit back and do nothing until we get those new officers on the streets. This is a pressing issue, and it needs to be addressed right away. One of my first actions as an Alderman will be to hire licensed and insured police officers from a security company and work with them to keep an eye on high crime hotspots in the neighborhood. I will ride with these officers to learn the facts on the ground, and together we will help deter and disrupt crime in the neighborhood. I promise that, as your Alderman, I won't just dictate from a distance; I will roll up my sleeves and be an active part of the solution to any problem we face in the ward.
3. What, if any, city assets would you consider privatizing to raise money?
I would not consider privatizing any city assets at this time. Chicago has a habit of selling off public assets in poorly negotiated deals that result in higher expenses to the public for lower quality services. Worse yet, each one of these assets that we sell is a potential revenue stream for the city--the companies would not want to buy or lease our public assets if they weren't profitable.
The City needs to become more fiscally responsible, and part of that is carefully considering whether privatization deals like the parking meters are really in the best interests of the public. The first step is getting the Privatization Transparency & Accountability ordinance passed through City Council, which will shine more light on future privatization deals and provide the information that we need to decide if potential deals really are in the best interests of Chicago.
4. Do you support or oppose the vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019?
I think that the minimum wage bill that was passed in the City Council is flawed, but I would have voted for it if I had the opportunity.
The fact is that the minimum wage needs to be raised. Poverty is a very serious issue in Chicago, and it is possible to work one or more full-time jobs and still struggle to pay for basic necessities like food and housing.
However, as a small business owner I understand the pressure that independent businesses face in raising the minimum wage. I believe that any raise in the wage needs to start with companies that take in more than $50 million in sales first. As the employees of these large companies spend their new wages it will introduce more money into the local economy, giving small businesses the profit cushion they need to survive the adjustment period to the higher minimum wage.
5. Are you in favor of Chicago's Red Light Camera program?
I do not support the red light camera program, and I have signed the pledge to abolish them if I am elected to office.
If the red light cameras were used in good faith to increase public safety I would support the program, but the reality is that they have become another way for the City to squeeze additional revenue out of our residents without raising taxes. And this has happened through some unsavory means, such as reducing the time for yellow traffic lights.
This is dishonest and needs to be stopped. Chicago does need additional revenue, but this is not the way to do it. Traffic laws should be used to promote public safety, not as a back door tax.