Principles and issues

On the page below I list my guiding principles and positions on many of the major issues facing Chicago. Over the next several months, I will meet with residents, and community and civic leaders to develop a people's platform around each of these issues. It is also noteworthy that I strongly support the platform of Senator Bernie Sanders. I filmed two commercials for his campaign in 2016, the second of which you can watch below.

 

Preface

Chicago recaptured: Taking City Hall for the people

State capture is systemic political corruption in which wealthy private and corporate interests—oligarchs—influence government officials in order to manipulate the rules of the game to their own advantage. In this system it is very difficult to make reforms that will improve the lives of working people.

In Chicago, corporate officials, bankers, investors, and real estate developers, through their connections with the mayor—and the alderman who bow down to him—have rigged things to benefit themselves. Besides costing taxpayers many millions of dollars, it results in the loss of priceless undeveloped human potential. 

This campaign's mission is to recapture our city and make it work for everyone.

Where we are: Creating visions and plans for City Hall

After more than six years in office, this administration has no credible plans for

  • ending gun violence.
  • reducing reliance on high-interest borrowing.
  • reducing the city's bank debt.
  • ensuring there is a high-quality school in every neighborhood.
  • making police accountable and giving them the support they need to do their jobs.
  • creating jobs in working class and poor neighborhoods.
  • investing in the development of underserved neighborhoods.
  • reducing crime.
  • rooting out corrupt city officials and contracts.
  • raising adequate long-term revenue to fund city services.

Traditionally, the mayor's office amplifies the ideas and the voice of the mayor. My goal is to amplify your ideas and voices. We start with plans and priorities on the issues that face us, several of which we outline below. As we talk with residents, community leaders, and experts, we will update, refine, and expand on these to create an inclusive vision that reflects the hopes and dreams of our people.

Principles

Creating an agenda to improve working people's lives

  • We prioritize the needs of the many over the interests of the wealthy few. All individuals, families, and communities deserve a fair shot at realizing their potential. Achieving this will require radical changes to our political priorities.
  • This campaign stands for what is ethical, what is right, and what is true. While we know elected officials must compromise when necessary, our base positions will be clearly and unapologetically progressive. We are often urged to be political “centrists,” but how virtuous is it to be halfway between right and wrong, or at the crossroads between fact and fiction?

Solving common problems with accountable government

  • The “big government vs. small-government” argument is deceptive. Either our affairs are governed by a strong public sector that we can hold accountable, or they are governed by a private sector accountable only to shareholders. Either way, there will be government.
  • Public government exists to solve common problems. Poverty, violence, disease, homelessness, social instability, and hunger are not shrinking; so our commitment to solving these problems through publicly accountable government cannot shrink either.  

Maximizing efficiency and transparency

  • We believe in honest, transparent, fiscally responsible government. Residents who foot the bills should have leaders who root out corruption and waste and open up public records to shed light on every aspect of the city’s operations and budget. This includes, for example, a complete public audit and reform of the TIF process.

Fair taxes and responsible spending

  • Rather than being upfront with taxpayers, Rahm Emanuel has plugged recent revenue shortfalls with new high-interest-rate bonds that will come due shortly after the 2019 mayoral election. Chicagoans will pay the interest on Emanuel's debt with increases in their property taxes. You can think of this as "Rahm's debt-tax."
 

Source: Chicago Tribune

  • As mayor, I will be upfront about the cost of good government, end the practice of indebting tax-payers to big banks, and raise enough revenue to adequately fund city services. I will work tirelessly to eliminate corruption and the waste and incompetence it produces.
  • Chicago’s dynamic economy generates significant wealth. Unfortunately, our current system of sales and property taxes and fees on services leads to lower income residents paying higher percentages of their income in taxes. I believe that entities and individuals who receive the most rewards because they live, work, and do business in Chicago should pay higher rates of taxes.

Putting evidence above political expediency and ideology

  • Abundant research in education, public finances, economic development, and most other areas shows which policies and programs are most beneficial for the greatest number of people. We will take evidence-based approaches to every aspect of running city government.

Issues

Justice for all

  • I believe we are one human family. However, we have grown up in a society where, for hundreds of years, those in power have cultivated and capitalized on prejudices about race, faith, ethnic background, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation in order to pit working people against each other.
  • Our campaign opposes racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies which negatively affect all aspects of our society, including policingeducationemployment, and housing.
  • The truth of the matter is that we all hold prejudices of one sort or another. Unfortunately, our segregated society insulates us from people and situations that might challenge our biases. We will use the power of the mayor's office to create opportunities for residents to build bridges among Chicago’s diverse communities
  • We also believe that public services should be provided equitably to all parts of the city, that public officials and civil servants must get the training and support they need to root out prejudice in their decision making, and that there must be consequences for those who violate the civil and human rights of our residents.

Safe and secure neighborhoods

Every Chicago resident has a right to feel safe and secure in their homes, neighborhoods, and throughout the city. Achieving this requires:

  • professional, nondiscriminatory, law enforcement with deep ties to the neighborhoods
  • a criminal and juvenile justice system that prioritizes keeping families together whenever possible and appropriate
  • jobs that pay living wages
  • Re-establish the mental health clinics closed by the current administration and rebuild city health services to be more accessible and responsive to the health and wellness needs of all Chicagoans
  • an exceptional education system for all residents
  • social service support for those needing help to realize their potential

Top-notch birth to 12th grade education

  • Don’t believe the myths about Chicago schools. When it comes to reading and mathematics, Chicago has one of the best teaching forces in Illinois. Since 2007--four years before the current mayoral administration took office--studies of reading and math scores have shown that students in every income and racial category outperform similar students across our state.
  • Although Chicago's teachers do a great job of increasing the pace of learning for low-income students, many children show up on the first day of kindergarten years behind kids from better-off families. In other words, we are failing these children long before they enter a classroom. This can only be fixed if we commit ourselves to economic, social, and societal changes that will help them in their early years.
  • Maintaining better than average improvements in reading and math scores is not enough. Our school district is one of the most understaffed districts in the state, and our curriculum is alarmingly narrow.
  • As with children in elite private schools, Chicago students need more than better-than-average reading scores. They deserve choir, orchestra, fine arts, media arts, photography and video production, health and wellness, home economics, a rich physical education and athletics program, and much more. Chicago is a world-class city. This is what world-class education looks like. If our political leaders have the political will, it will happen here.
I debated Bruno Behrend, Director of Education Policy at the conservative Heartland Institute, on public education vs. market-based approaches to schooling.  Video Here.

A representative and competent school board

  • ‍I believe school board members must be representative of the communities served and knowledgeable about education. A school board--whether elected or appointed--can only accomplish this with the right structure, composition, and criteria for candidates.
  • ‍On Chicago's local school councils, for example, elected representatives must be parents, educators, or residents of the attendance area served by the school. Candidates for the Board of Education, whether elected or appointed, should have similar criteria.
  • ‍An elected school board will require changes in state law. I will push legislators to ensure that such criteria are included in their proposals. Should legislation fail to pass, I will consult with stakeholders to establish comparable local standards to use when appointing members of Chicago’s school board. With such standards, whether the school board is elected or appointed, it will be representative and competent.

Changing election law so candidates are not beholden to special interests

  • ‍Chicago has a troubled history of private industries and individuals who use their wealth to corrupt public officials. Mammoth campaign contributions have created a political system that features legalized bribery. This is a basic threat to our democracy.
  • ‍I support the small-donor match ordinance, now in the City Council, which will help level the playing field and allow candidates who are not wealthy—or beholden to wealthy interests—to run for office and get a fair hearing from voters.

Immigration and a truly welcoming city

  • The United States is the only home I've known and, fortunately, I was born here. I ask myself, "What if I wasn't? What if my mother came here from another country when I was an infant or toddler? What if I lived under constant threat of being expelled from the U.S. and sent to my mother's former country?" 
  • I tried to put myself in the position of so many thousands of Chicagoans because we live in a world where the powerful have maintained their power for centuries by pitting working-class people against one another. They use race, religion, national origin, citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, and other differences to drive wedges between us. They try to tell us that immigrants will "take our jobs." 
  • However, Dreamers are not a "threat" to good-paying jobs. The most significant threat to good jobs are those who automate them, send them overseas, and push for laws that weaken the unions that fought to make those jobs good-paying in the first place.
As I watched undocumented Chicagoans risk deportation, I asked myself, "What if it were me?"
  • Every person in our country—documented or not—should have the means to realize his or her God-given potential. Toward that end, I support a pathway to citizenship, policies that emphasize family unity and the protection of human rights, humane enforcement, and policies that address international conditions that cause migration in the first place.
  • I support making Chicago a true sanctuary for all of its people by investing in the community institutions such as schools, community centers, housing, and medical clinics that create a sense of sanctuary.

Fostering neighborhood economic development

  • In some Chicago neighborhoods, large investments at the federal, state, and local level will be required to reverse the effects of decades of neglect and exploitation. We will work with our representatives in Springfield and Washington D.C. to push for such investments from our state and federal governments.
  • ‍Using local resources, we will help revitalize neighborhoods and commercial districts by refocusing TIF funds on neighborhoods with higher needs. We will assist storefront businesses confronted with rapidly rising rents; decrease the number of empty storefronts by limiting the amount of time that vacant commercial properties can have reduced taxes; decrease costs and turnaround times on permits and licenses, allow most routine business to be conducted online, and support entrepreneurship and cooperative worker-owned businesses.
  • ‍We will direct city planning staff to take a proactive support role in neighborhood development, and empower citizens to lead community improvement efforts that inform city initiatives.
  • ‍For the city as a whole, we will attract major employers by building a world-class public school system; investing in a skilled workforce and safe neighborhoods; promoting Chicago’s vast cultural, social, and geographical assets; and establishing transparent, equitable criteria for economic development.
  • We will ensure that all residents have access to quality affordable housing.