Candidate Full Name: Ronda Locke
Office: 1st 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?
There are a multitude of significant issues that affect the entire City as well as the ward. Solving these bigger issues will require significant focus and transparent, informed debate including addressing pension payments, new public education policy that is responsive to school communities, and public safety that will ensure residents feel safe.
However the two most important issues facing 1st Ward residents are how our arterial corridors are being developed and delivery of ward services.
The 1st Ward is experiencing an explosion of new development, especially along the Milwaukee corridor, with some estimates as high as 1500 units coming on-line in the near future. How these developments fit together including the collective inventory of housing unit sizes, the percent overall affordable, the percent of transit-oriented development -- is not being looked at proactively as a portfolio, but is being reviewed as one-off developments.
As Alderman, I will work with residents, local businesses and chambers to craft master plans by neighborhood; plans that define how the community should grow; what type of development is appropriate, what businesses are missing and should be sought, and finally, what surrounding infrastructure is needed to support the plans. I believe that through collaboration we can articulate long term visions for neighborhoods and the ward and engage our citizens ensuring the community's voice is heard.
The second critical issue facing residents is the poor delivery of city services. Residents repeatedly point to overflowing garbage bins, excessive rat population, pot-holes, and other unacceptable conditions that have taken months and even years to resolve. I commit to being a full-time Alderman and will employ my business background and experience working for the City to establish a responsive ward office.
2. What are your plans for helping fight crime in your ward?
Economic development--including jobs, job training, and after-school and weekend programs-- geared towards teenagers and young adults will have the biggest impact on reducing crime.
However, to deal with the crime as it currently exists, as Alderman, I will vote for budgets that advocate for a fully staffed police force and focus on securing the resources to help our officers. The resources will not only allow the officers to more easily do their jobs, but help them more fully connect with the community. My time as public safety liaison, while a 1st Ward staffer in 2011 -2012, proved to me that solving crime requires the engagement and the working together of the City, community and police to be most effective.
In terms of number of officers, we are down over 100 officers since the 13 district consolidated with the 12th in 2012 and we have 220 fewer officers than Superintendent McCarthy committed to when he announced the closing. A certain level of staffing is required to respond to calls. And while the headlines read that crime is down, the year-end numbers for district 12 for 2014 show an increase in shootings by 12 percent.
In terms of advocating for resources, we have an opportunity to leverage technology and social media to ensure we have robust community engagement. Facebook community watch pages have become a popular way for communities to look out for each other. But what is missing is the CAPS facilitator or police officer input to provide a framework, direction and updates. I believe we will benefit by returning to monthly CAPS programs. And we can establish a program, similar to court advocates, to allow residents to view Police POD cameras, which currently require a sworn officer to view. I will advocate for a true satellite office in the 12th district that will allow our residents to enter and access help, considering the district extends from Division to below Cermak.
3. What, if any, city assets would you consider privatizing to raise money?
In general, I am opposed to privatization. We need to keep Chicago residents working at living wage jobs and not relinquish control of any Chicago assets. Once the asset is gone, it is gone. Significant public resources should be controlled by the public.
I feel that privatization is related to the issue of transparency. The lack of transparency and public input on too many of City Council and Chicago Public School decisions is a key reason I've entered the race for 1st Ward Alderman. If we were to consider privatizing any City assets, I would not support doing so without significant independent review, informed debate and public hearings to ensure transparency.
For that reason I support the Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance, which establishes a process to provide for public input and City Council review of any proposed City privatization plans. We need forensic audits on some of the most recent egregious privatization efforts such as Skyway, Meter deal - to inform any future proposals. Then we need to have ongoing process to ensure our public assets are protected.
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 vote to increase the minimum wage to $13 an hour and will support future legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and accelerate the implementation timeframe for companies earning $50 million a year or more in gross revenue. In addition, I would urge the state to increase the minimum wage to reduce the differential between the City and suburban job markets. And I would like to pursue dialogue with entities such as the restaurant associations to determine if there are policies or resources to help offset the initial impact of the increase.
If the wages of Chicago Citizens are increased, then we will realize the benefit of more dollars circulating in our economy. In fact, the economic multiplier will ensure local businesses will benefit and tax revenue will increase.
5. Are you in favor of Chicago's Red Light Camera program?
As alderman, I will call for a complete re-examination of the City of Chicago's Red Light Camera Program that started out focusing on safety, but has mushroomed into a program of little oversight, corruption in how cameras were placed, deception in traffic signal timings, and a lack of transparency in how contracts are being awarded. The program should not function as a regressive tax revenue generator, but as a program to increase the safety for the driving public as part of a comprehensive plan for all modes of transportation. The comprehensive study commissioned by the Chicago Tribune acknowledges that, "the number of injury-causing accidents decreased at intersections after red light cameras were added", but clearly has expanded way past the original intent. In fact, 190 of the locations saw an increase in accidents. For all the reasons above, I believe there needs to be a complete re-examination to ensure transparency and rebuild trust.