2023 Mayoral Candidate Responses
2023 Mayoral Candidate Responses
Responses received Monday, February 13, 2023
The Harold Washington Library. Not only is it stunning visually from both inside and out, but as a father of three, trips to the library allow my wife and I to expose our children to public accommodations and experiences that make our city great. We utilize the CTA for our visit, winding through diverse communities between the West Side and the Loop, then enjoy all the Children’s Library has to offer when we arrive. It’s a winning experience, all around.
Every member of Chicago City Council should be holding regular meetings with residents regarding planning and zoning, with openness and transparency being the floor, and not the ceiling. Residents deserve to have input on development in their communities, and I’m committed to urging alderpersons as well as city agencies like the CHA to not only improve and streamline communication with residents, but hold meetings, forums, etc. during hours of convenience for working families.
I believe we can always be doing more, and doing it quickly. I support the betterment of any initiative that improves the lives of all Chicagoans, but we have communities such as Austin, where my wife and I are raising our three children, that have been mired in disinvestment and neglect for generations. We have seen long-term visions of the past amount to very little in our present.
We have more than 65,000 unhoused residents of our city, neighborhoods besieged by violence, special education crises in our schools and refugees in need of accommodation and immediate assistance. What we need is a sense of urgency – not a plan for the next decade, but what we can start doing today.
We need a Green New Deal for Chicago – a set of priorities to ensure that we are tackling the most pressing problems affecting our climate and our jobs. As mayor, I will make sure to build on the work that is already moving forward at the federal and state levels, but in regards to the 2022 Chicago Climate Action Plan, ensure that the City also requests the funds necessary to execute the Plan to create new jobs and career opportunities as part of a just transition away from fossil fuels. Specifically, I would also prioritize fully funding and restructuring a Chicago Department of the Environment, green schools in CPS, a Green New Deal for housing, and public transportation and transit upgrades.
My wife and I send our children to Chicago Park District programs in the summer, but programming that ends at 1 p.m. is not beneficial. Other families struggle with the same. But funding is key. I will continue to champion TIF reform that would automatically return the annual TIF surplus to the taxing bodies that need revenue for staffing, programming, and maintenance and infrastructure expenses for the park district. This is a critical piece to ensure that our parks are fully funded, and if they are, then fully resourced and staffed. And as part of my pledge to expand youth employment, I will create a “park ambassador” program to help steward environmental seminars and keep the parks serviceable and accessible for Chicagoans.
This is without question an equity issue. As a Cook County commissioner, my work on the Budget for Black Lives led to the creation of the Cook County Equity Fund, which has driven hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding towards the needs of Black, Latino, immigrant and working class communities. As mayor, I will continue prioritizing the fight against these inequities, and bring this same approach to City government, whether through the Park District, Department of Public Health, our libraries, Chicago Housing Authority or the CTA.
We need to invest in infrastructure that will make buses more accessible and efficient, and create true bus rapid transit (BRT) lines that combine dedicated bus lanes and signal prioritization with new infrastructure. True BRT systems include bus stations that allow riders to pay before they board and enable multiple riders to board simultaneously, just like CTA stations. BRT should be expanded and fully implemented across key corridors in Chicago.
Responses received Friday, February 10, 2023
I want to build an administration that partners with constituents to make decisions that work for our city. That includes organizations and critical players, but also looks like engaging with community members to understand the unique needs that face each and every neighborhood.
I will champion a more participatory zoning advisory process (particularly for communities that have suffered significant displacement), participatory budgeting process, regular town halls and listening sessions, and more.
My administration will be committed to taking a collaborative approach towards governing. Involving communities and advocates from the get-go helps us avoid unilateral, detrimental commitments like the Mayor’s recent NASCAR deal. Creating a true office of neighborhood engagement, and listening to what real Chicagoans need, is key to driving meaningful change.
The idea and the goals of the We Will Chicago initiative are good, but it doesn’t take us far enough. Planning for 10 years at a time hasn’t gotten us where we need to go. We need an overarching plan that will guide us for the next century – that’s why I’ve committed to build a new Burnham-style plan in my administration that will guide our growth and long-term success.
Yes, I have read the plan. Notably, there are no accountability measures included in this plan, which makes it difficult to take it seriously and institute real action. The plan is weak on establishing bike infrastructure, clear and concrete recycling standards and deliverables, Electric Vehicle infrastructure, and water justice. It’s silent on permitting, which leaves a lot of room for another General Iron or Hilco disaster to take place.
I’ve laid out a comprehensive environmental platform that starts with standing up a Department of the Environment. I have not only committed to reinstating the Department of Environment, but I will ensure it is fully staffed, fully funded, and led by a Commissioner-level leader (rather than a Director) to ensure institutional integrity within the office that is not subject to mayoral inaction. My administration would first and foremost task the DoE with creating a comprehensive plan to address existing environmental threats across Chicago. That’s the leadership we need in place to tackle the environmental crisis we face.
I grew up in Chicago and attended summer camps in our city’s parks. I want to make sure that the next generation has access to clean and safe park spaces throughout the city. To address the inequality that exists in our parks, I plan to empower the Park Advisory Commissions and
enhance their ability to bring in resources. By creating a better relationship with friends of the park and building up public-private partnerships, I hope to improve the park-going experience, especially in south and west side neighborhood parks that have long been left behind. I gained valuable experience in park management and beautification during my time working for the Mayor of New Orleans, where I oversaw portions of the New Orleans recreation department and helped restore 50 parks that were destroyed during Katrina.
Environmental justice is critical to building equity in our city, and I will continue to fight and advocate for better treatment in our most marginalized communities. I stood with Little Village and demanded that the Hilco report be released by the Inspector General after a recent implosion blanketed their community in dust. I stood with South Chicago to demand the city deny General Iron’s application for a construction permit in our community. And I was the only candidate to speak up about the green wastewater infrastructure after recent storms and floods.
I have a proven track record fighting for the kinds of solutions that can make a difference on climate change. I founded the Lake Shore Caucus to address erosion issues on Lake Michigan and create solutions across our state. I was a co-sponsor on the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), which passed in 2021, and continues to be the most consequential and comprehensive clean energy bill passed in the United States. As Mayor, I will continue this commitment by bringing together the team and the solutions Chicago needs to begin tackling climate change head-on.
At the heart of public safety is access to safe, reliable public transportation. The current administration has not prioritized investing in infrastructure, making our streets safer, or maintaining CTA service levels, and the community has suffered. Ghost buses run rampant, security is lacking, schedules are inconsistent; these issues lead to a myriad of other problems. Over 25% of Chicago households don’t have cars, and we must invest in the public transit and road infrastructure we need to support our city.
As State Representative, I lead the charge to get 20 percent of the state’s motor fuel tax increase dedicated to transit, 90 percent of which comes to Chicago. I’ve been fighting for the funding we need in Springfield to address these challenges, and I’ve put together a comprehensive plan to address them as Mayor. A Buckner administration will prioritize building a world-class transportation system that will solidify Chicago’s spot as a world-class city. I’m committed to building an accessible, reliable, equitable transit system that services people across the city. You can read the full plan here.
Responses received Friday, February 7, 2023
My favorite building is the Sears Tower. It's a part of Chicago culture and an icon in the skyline of the city I love so much.
Our administration will carry my values of honesty, transparency, and accountability throughout everything we do. I will require more public notice, and more avenues for public input on proposed planning and zoning changes.
I do support its goals, and will collaborate with the experts in our excellent planning and development department to implement it.
I have read the plan, and I absolutely support its goals. But we must go even further. I have proposed a City level Green New Deal. The climate crisis is an existential threat to our city, and to our planet, and anything short of transformative action is a failure.
Our green spaces are essential to the mental and physical health of our residents, and we must ensure that they are not only stewarded effectively, but expanded. Every neighborhood across Chicago should have access to safe, clean green space.
I am committed to working with community activists and non-profit organizations, along with all relevant stakeholders to determine an action plan on this subject with strong priority to equity.
I would work to create wide-spread constructions of "a floor above", building residential units above single-floor commercial buildings like stores, banks, and houses of worship. This will allow us to rapidly meet our growing need for affordable housing.
This information is for educational purposes only. AIA Chicago does not endorse any political candidate.