Rey Colon, Candidate for 35th Ward Alderman

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Candidate Full Name: Rey Colon

Office: 35th Ward Alderman

Email Address:

Web Site:

Campaign Name: Neighbors for Rey Colon

Campaign Office Mailing Address: 2706 N. Sawyer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

Phone: (773) 860-3588

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

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

Since taking office, I have identified things that people value in the ward and built upon them. I have been fortunate in securing public infrastructure improvements that have leveraged private investment. I've created two historic landmark districts, implemented an open space plan, improved parks, attracted the construction of new academic institutions, and maintained a business-friendly environment that has spurred economic growth with hundreds of new jobs.

I am extremely excited about the possibility of serving the new ward boundaries which include Albany Park, Avondale, Hermosa, Irving Park, and Logan Square. Each community has its distinct challenges and opportunities. Responsive city services, improved public safety and representing the interests of the ward are important, but also the basics. It is necessary to have a vision, goals and priorities for each neighborhood.

Hermosa is a working-class area that is improving, but more must be done to organize and involve residents and businesses in keeping the area safe and clean. There are gang issues in certain pockets and the commercial area on Armitage needs to be revitalized. There is a high concentration of faith-based institutions in Hermosa that will be a great resource for me moving forward.

I am working with the owners of Walt Disney's Birthplace at 2156 N. Tripp to restore the home, landmark it, leverage youth programs for the community. My goal is to promote the Disney family history in Hermosa to make it a future destination and tourist attraction.

Logan Square and Avondale has experienced an explosion of economic growth and become very popular in recent years. This growth however also presents a challenge of housing affordability. New development must leverage housing opportunities for our workforce. I facilitated a public planning process around the possible future use of city-owned property to create much-needed affordable housing, commercial options and open space.

In Irving Park, the Independence Park Library is within the new 35th Ward boundary and has served the community for the last century from rented facilities. I have dedicated TIF funds for site acquisition in order to build a new, Independence Park Library.

Albany Park is truly one of Chicago's most eclectic neighborhoods. The whole world is represented in this community with more than 70 languages spoken in restaurants and shops from over 40 countries. Albany Park also has three stops on the CTA's bustling Brown Line. I facilitated the inaugural Albany Park World Fest at the busy intersection of Kimball and Lawrence Avenue last year. I am currently working on coordinating a unique Community Market this summer. With a little nurturing, I believe Albany Park will be the next "up and coming" neighborhood.

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

My approach to creating healthy communities is to focus on the quality of life for children first. If the neighborhood is good for children, it will be good for everyone else. My office and I participate in the local beat meetings and encourage residents who contact my office with safety concerns to attend. We maintain high communication with police districts and report all concerns and issues. Crime in the 35th Ward has gone down significantly since I've taken office. I have organized several community meetings with the District Commanders and beat officers in problem areas to encourage communication and invite residents to form a positive relationship with law enforcement.

The performance of the Chicago Police is only as good as the information they receive from an organized citizenry. When major incidents occur, we organize outdoor roll calls with police and residents to bring attention to the matter and make each event a teachable moment in working together for safety. Over time we have had success in involving residents without citizenship status come to our office for services. We encourage them to report crime when they see it and participate in preventive activities with their neighbors. This is especially necessary in areas where crimes occur, but there are few to no calls for service.

I encourage residents to learn the names of the children on their block.

My office promotes annual "Block Parties" on every street in the ward. While the event is only 1-day a year, the entry-level organizing process provides opportunities for local engagement and builds relationships among neighbors that may not occur naturally. I have seen improved local relationships lead to other empowered activities like clean-ups, requesting speed humps, residential-zoned parking, collective garage sales, etc. Public safety is higher when relationships are strong on a block. Police and local officials are always more responsive when local residents work together.

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

I believe the City needs to eliminate its inventory of city-owned property and put it into private hands to generate revenue and provide a public benefit. Any future privatization efforts must require a detailed cost analysis so that we don't repeat another Parking Meter Deal (I was one of only five aldermen to voted against it).

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

I voted to increase the minimum wage to help pull our workforce out of poverty. I also voted against property tax hikes to promote neighborhood stability.

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

I support the concept of using cameras for law enforcement and modifying driving behavior. The scandals and criticisms of the red-light cameras don't take away from their usefulness in preventing crashes from motorists who "eat" red lights. On Fullerton and Kedzie for example, crashes and tickets were greatly reduced and ultimately the cameras were moved to another problem location.

Speed cameras also regulate driving behavior, slow down traffic and catch speeders in designated areas. Quite frankly, in some areas I struggle to find the relationship between where a camera is located, the school and park they are supposed to be protecting and the hours of enforcement. That said, traffic enforcement cameras free up police to serve and protect instead of writing traffic citations. The fact that cameras don't discriminate, profile or favor certain drivers is a plus.

Cameras are the future as it relates to public safety and law enforcement. They can assist in the prosecution of crimes, or be used as evidence to prove innocence. I am interested to see the results of the 30 police body cameras currently being piloted at the 14th District which serves a portion of the 35th Ward and how it will impact law enforcement throughout the rest of Chicago.

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