Candidate Full Name: Mary O'Connor
Office: 41st Ward Alderman
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Site: mary41.com
Campaign Name: Friends for Mary O'Connor
Campaign Office Mailing Address: 7280 W Devon Ave Chicago, IL 60631
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. What is the most important issue that you will address in your ward?
For many years, the needs of the 41st Ward had gone ignored. Today, more and more tax dollars are being reinvested in our communities as a result of my efforts to secure additional investments in our schools, parks and local infrastructure. Those investments can and must continue as there is much more important work to be done.
While many large-scale projects have been addressed, I would like to see the City of Chicago continue making significant investments in the delivery of those basic city services that have diminished in recent years as a result of budget cuts. Important services that residents have come to rely on like street resurfacing, forestry issues, street cleaning, snow plowing, expanding senior services, and other important functions.
The expansion of O'Hare has impacted many residents in the 41st Ward. I pushed hard to make sure the concerns of my ward's residents were heard and I will continue to stand up for my ward and fight to protect the quality of life for my residents. I want to expedite the phasing out of louder, older aircrafts, enforcing the Fly Quiet program and expanding the Noise Abatement Program. I would also like to explore other options to reduce the noise impact on residents' quality of life.
Making additional investments in our first responders and growing our business districts would also be priorities for my second term in office.
2. What are your plans for helping fight crime in your ward?
The 16th District, which protects the 41st Ward, is the largest in the City of Chicago and I would support efforts to see its boundaries redrawn. This could result in smaller beats and improved response times throughout the district. While the 41st Ward is made up of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago, I have no doubt my ward would benefit from an increased police presence.
I also support hiring additional police officers and making sure that every district is properly staffed. We must do more than simply keep up with the rate of attrition.
I also support continued investments in our CAPS program, which plays a critical role in addressing the issue of public safety in my neighborhoods. The services they provide our seniors are extraordinary and we must do all that we can to support their mission.
This past year, I also worked closely with OEMC and my local police commander on implementing new strategies for ensuring that calls for service in areas like the 41st Ward are assigned appropriately and that communication between dispatchers and our local police districts takes into account our specific challenges. I also speak with the commander regularly to receive updates on safety issues in the ward and will continue to do so.
In terms of community involvement, I regularly hold public safety forums where we review crime trends and safety tips. The community also gets an opportunity to directly ask questions to commanders and CAPS officers on crime issues affecting their neighborhood. I have also had tremendous success using social media as an opportunity to inform the public about specific crime trends and important alerts.
3. What, if any, city assets would you consider privatizing to raise money?
Any plan to privatize a City asset or service should go be considered publicly through the PTAO, the Independent Budget office (should it come to fruition), and receive Council approval. We learned a valuable lesson from the parking meter deal and should tread carefully on any further privatization.
4. Do you support or oppose the vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019?
I opposed this specific legislation because I think that we need a unified minimum wage that is not done by each municipality. However, I have been a longtime supporter of increasing the minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage is an economic driver that will greatly benefit many working families. I do contend that the minimum wage must be increased in a responsible way so that small businesses, specifically in border wards like mine, can absorb the additional payroll costs and keep their doors open for business and remain competitive in their pricing. There has to be a balance between the economic benefits of raising the minimum wage and losing small business that cannot absorb costs all at once which is why I support a responsible timeline for increasing the minimum.
5. Are you in favor of Chicago's Red Light Camera program?
I did support it, however my preference has always been to have more officers on hand to enforce these traffic laws. Ultimately, I voted to support the establishment of child safety zones because the issue of reckless driving around our schools and parks is one that many parents and community members in my ward contact the service office to share their concerns about. Furthermore, a portion of those revenues are redirected back into traffic safety for things like speed humps, improved signage and street markings, and youth education programs in impoverished areas. I am encouraged that motorists are adhering to the law as the actual revenues from this program are falling far short of the initial projections.