Candidate Full Name: Margaret Laurino
Office: 39th Ward Alderman
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. What is the most important issue that you will address in your ward?
My top priorities for improving the 39th Ward are addressing community issues like O'Hare noise, public safety, and providing infrastructure improvements and quality city services in the face of shrinking budgets.
Residents across the ward have expressed their concerns over these issues and I have worked diligently to address them. When the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made changes to landing and takeoff patterns, redirecting air traffic over neighborhoods in the 39th Ward and dramatically increasing the level of jet noise in the area, I implemented a multi-tier approach to combat the effects of airplane noise. By partnering with Congressman Mike Quigley and community groups such as FAIR (Fair Allocation in Runways), I have pushed to make the FAA and Chicago Department of Aviation answer the tough questions and present real plans for fair flight allocation and sound proofing assistance.
Because public safety is one of the most important quality of life issues, I have dedicated myself to ensuring that the 39th Ward gets its fair share of police officers and that our emergency personnel have the tools and resources they need to serve our communities. I have done this by working closely with the Commanders and officers of the ward, sending a liaison to all CAPS meetings, and regularly communicating with the 16th and 17th District police regarding all reports we receive on criminal activity. My staff and I also work hard to make sure that vacant buildings are identified and secured, that graffiti is removed promptly, and that we support our youth with positive alternatives and programming in our schools, parks, and community organizations.
Infrastructure improvements and service delivery are also essential components to our quality of life. That is why I am committed to funding infrastructure improvements that invest in our communities and enhance our business corridors. Throughout my years as Alderman, I have fought to bring millions of dollars of infrastructure improvements to the 39th Ward and I am constantly working with various city departments to improve the delivery of services to the our residents. For example, in 2014 alone I spent over $1 million dollars on street resurfacing throughout the ward.
I represent one of the City's most diverse wards with a population that is 54% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 3 percent African American, and 18% Asian. My staff and I work hard to address and balance the concerns and hopes of these different racial and ethnic groups. My campaign slogan is, "Bringing It All Together" because my overriding goal in my years as
Alderman is to ensure whatever I do for the ward is not done to the detriment of any one group.
If re-elected, I will continue to fight for the interests of the 39th Ward and continue to work with residents and businesses to keep our neighborhoods the wonderful places they have always been to live and raise our families in.
2. What are your plans for helping fight crime in your ward?
The City of Chicago has a great police force and I have always been a strong supporter of all the hard working women and men in the Department who lay their lives on the line to protect and serve. Chicago has done an excellent job in strengthening the standards of training for police and utilizing information technology and cameras to fight crime and improve public safety. I hope to see sustained progress on this front and will work to ensure that the police department continues to hold its officers to the highest standards.
In addition to having a quality police force, Chicago needs a strong CAPS program. Residents know their communities best and are most knowledgeable of events in their neighborhoods. That being said, residents are a valuable resource for police and they need to work together in order to stomp out crime. The best way to foster that relationship is by using the CAPS program to improve police-neighborhood communications. In the 39th Ward, I lean heavily on the CAPS program and encourage all residents to attend so that they can become familiar with their beat officers and voice their concerns. I also send staff to all CAPS meetings so that I can be aware of those concerns and will continue to do so if re-elected.
In addition to sending staff to all CAPS meetings, I plan to continue working closely with the Commanders and officers of the ward and regularly communicating with the 16th and 17th Districts regarding reports we receive on criminal activity. I will also continue to work to ensure they have all the tools and resources necessary to do their job.
I remain committed to ensuring that the 39th Ward keeps its fair share of police officers, working with community associations to identify specific safety needs on a block-by-block basis, and spearheading efforts to encourage those community associations to form safety task force committees and block clubs. It is through these efforts that we have been successful in developing a network of police and residents to improve public safety in the 39th Ward. I believe that the police and residents working hand-in-hand have helped the 17th District experience a 44% decrease in crime since 2010.
3. What, if any, city assets would you consider privatizing to raise money?
I do not support the privatization of any city assets at this time.
4. Do you support or oppose the vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019?
Currently, the minimum wage in Illinois stands at $8.25 an hour. At this rate, an adult working 40 hours a week would only earn $16,500 a year. This is not enough to support a family or to escape the cycle of poverty. I supported raising the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019 because it would provide families in Chicago with a living wage while phasing the increase in over several years so as not to place undue burden on employers. I could not support a $15 an hour minimum wage at this time because I do not believe our small businesses could shoulder that amount in the current economy.
5. Are you in favor of Chicago's Red Light Camera program?
I supported the traffic light camera program in order to improve traffic safety for pedestrians and motorists throughout Chicago and especially around our schools and parks. Recently released camera footage from CDOT of accidents at red light intersections illustrate the danger posted by motorists who run red lights. Data from CDOT shows an 11 percent decrease in accidents at intersections with red light cameras. I believe the program has been successful in slowly changing dangerous habits behind the wheel and making drivers more aware of their surroundings while driving. This has certainly held true for me as I have become more aware behind the wheel after the program was implemented.
I won't deny that there have been issues with the cameras. Going forward, I would support careful and regular review of the camera contracts and locations in order to ensure that there is fair enforcement of the law and regular maintenance of the equipment.