She Votes Illinois Candidate Questionnaire
1. Tell us about yourself (Provide us with a brief summary about who you are, how long you have lived in the ward, what made you decide to run, and/or why you want to be an alderman.)
I have lived most of my life in the 40th Ward of Chicago.
Single Parent, Community member, CPS Teacher, Agent of Change. I have always been an Independent, Progressive voice for the people of Chicago and particularly, my community.
My goal is to have 26 Aldermen — Independent and Progressive voices in City Council. We need a true legislative body that can minimize Chicago’s tradition of Mayoral prerogative and give voice to the people of Chicago.
I decided to run for Alderman 4 years ago so I could bring the community voice of all Chicagoans to City Council. It is time for our city to have new, responsive and representative leadership.
I am a CPS teacher and former social worker; Single/divorced and have lived in the 40th Ward most of my life. I teach Math to middle school students in Albany Park. I am on the LSC at that school as well. I have been a community advocate and activist my entire adult life. I have served on various committees, boards, school boards, budget committees. I am from a union family. I ran against the incumbent 4 years ago and then again ran a year later for Committeeman and earned. I am from a union family where I heard regularly from my father who came to Chicago from Coal mining region after WWII that Unions and the GI Bill were the two equalizers in this country. I am concerned about the debt that we are leaving to our future generations. ..and debt for what? More tourist attractions? More stadiums? We are not doing enough to improve the lives and circumstances of everyday Chicagoans with our policies and public money.
I have been involved in organizing for change in my own community my entire adult life. I serve on a Local School Council currently and on various neighborhood organization boards. As a teacher and CTU member I have had a hand in organizing charter school teachers into unions. I have also spearheaded an effort in the 40th ward to stop the expansion of charter schools.
In 2018 I started a petition drive for a non — binding referendum on the November 2018 ballot that called for city wide public hearings on the Lead in our drinking Water. We were successful in getting this on the ballot in several precincts and wards around the city.
2. Tell us about the women in your life (Suggestions include: Share with us something about the importance of women in politics, who is your female political idol, who is/was the most influential female in your life, what challenges have you faced as a woman running for alderman and how have you overcome them, and/or any community involvement around women’s services, women’s rights.)
As a student in the social work department at Cal. State Long Beach I took courses in Women’s Studies department which help me direct and perfect my feminist leanings into social action. The professors were the radicals of the day…..bra burning feminists, leaders in the Lesbian awareness and equality movement and women, from everyday walks of life who intention it was to insure that girls and women would have the freedom to live out our rights as full citizens with control over our bodies, our financial world and our healthcare.
My mother was a fearless defender of democracy being the youngest member of an immigrant family who experienced the American dream from the slums of the westside of Chicago. Mom, Gertrude was a brilliant, hard working woman who was denied access to management level positions in all jobs because of her sex.
I recall how proud my Father was when my Mom decided to file a lawsuit in the late 60’s against Sears for sexual discrimination.
Everyday women are my heroes. I am a Chicago Public School Math teacher and I especially work closely with girls to empower them to be problem solvers and independent thinkers.
3. Tell us about your Ward (Briefly provide our audience with information about your ward. Suggestions include: What neighborhoods your ward covers; what is unique about your ward; landmarks; favorite places to hang out — consider highlighting women-owned businesses; the make up of the community — including women’s organizations and services; what’s the vibe like, what is healthy and successful about your ward; and/or what is the most concerning issue impacting your ward.)
Our Ward basically includes the Rosehill Cemetery and Temple Steel which take up much of the middle of the ward.
Parts of Andersonville, West Edgewater, Bowmanville, Budlong Woods, Arcadia Terrace, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, West Ridge are the communities within the ward.
I have been a member of St. Gregory Parish most of my life as well. My friendships, volunteer responsibilities, celebrations and community commitment circle around my life as a neighborhood person. I have been on our neighborhood organization board (West Andersonville Neighbors Together) in various capacities for 30 years.
It is through these type of organizations that I have become familiar with all of the neighborhoods in our ward.
I have long lasting friendships from this neighborhood upbringing. I frequent women owned businesses as much as possible. These women owners are vital voices in our local business community. Some that I frequent the most are Ranalli’s, The Bow Wow Lounge where daycare and board my dog and Joie de Vine where I personally frequent and where I hold many of my campaign events.
I live local. I shop local and I use local services as much as possible.
4. Platform Questions
A. Schools: Chicago’s school population is declining. This means there are fewer students to educate, but the population shifts are not equally distributed. How will you ensure that students in all parts of the city have access to quality and safe education while taking into consideration changing population and the impact of that?
CPS enrollment has been shrinking in neighborhood schools all the while enrollment in charters has been growing. These go hand in had with the planned demise of public education. I have fought school closures at every level while helping to organize charter schools into our union. We should work to provide fully funded services, affordable housing options, well funded schools and fully funded community based policing in all neighborhoods.
Chicago has had two administrations in a row that targeted public schools for closure. First the Daley administration brought control over the school board and finances to the office of Mayor and this resulted in pension holidays (wherein the city did not pay it’s required obligation into the teacher pension fund), per- pupil funding formula for public schools and charter schools/privatization.
It is my belief that these changes combined with our current administration’s attempt to privatize all services and allow for-profit development of public land that we have systematically emptied neighborhoods and public school. Population shifts go hand in hand with gentrification and charter school proliferation.
As a young social worker I learned the term “Institutional Racism”. The planned obsolescence of our schools and neighborhoods, the closure of publicly funded health facilities, the lack of infrastructure development and investment in the neighborhoods, and the lack of accessible and affordable housing and public transportation add up the meaning of the concept of Institutional Racism.
We must fund services and public education with tax money/public money. It is the obligation of the great democracy. Schools and public transportation should not be run for profit. Quality schools and investment in all neighborhoods are non negotiables.
B. Environment: Chicago faces a crisis of water infrastructure and service. Chicago has more lead lines than any other city in the United States and city testing of Chicago homes with water meters has found nearly 1 in 5 have lead in their tap water. In 2015, City Hall considered privatizing the water system after an unsolicited pitch from investment firm Goldman Sachs. Research has shown that privatization of water utilities often see rate increases, workforce reductions, and a backlog of maintenance issues. In Illinois, a typical household with Lake Michigan water pays more than twice for water service using a privatized utility service than from using a public municipality. Additionally, in 2016, 6,351 households had their water shut off, with the shutoffs affecting over 16,000 individuals. What is your plan to address the challenges that Chicago’s water infrastructure system faces? How will you work towards providing safe, accessible, and affordable water service to Chicago residents? (Community Collaborator: Food and Water Action)
Governments should be banned from privatization of public services. Citizens have a right to the best that their money can provide with no profit for private corporations. Furthermore we have a right to know where/how our tax dollars are spent. Once our money goes to a private corporation through charter schools, construction/infrastructure maintenance, etc. then we have NO idea where our money is being spent or reinvested.
NO privatization of water. Period. In addition to this we should not be using people as profit centers for the city coffers either through high fees and fines for public services.
In May of 2018 I started a city wide petition drive to get a non-binding referendum on the November ballot that called for the City to hold Public Hearings on the lead in our drinking water. This referendum was on the ballot in many precincts and wards and was voted on favorably by the public.
As a teacher I know that the students I teach cannot afford expensive water filtration systems. I also know that most of my students live in older buildings where the owners will never replace lead pipes unless forced to do so. Our parents’ generation eliminated lead paint and not just in our own neighborhoods. Lead paint was eliminated on a national basis. Lead is a poison and is proven harmful to brain, nervous system and over development in children. Our students and families in Chicago deserve better. We should never privatize our water system and we should use our tax dollars to benefit the people of Chicago at all levels.
We were successful in calling attention to the issue and I was invited to participate in the the Middle West Film Festival at the Davis Theater. At this event (where Michael Moore was also screening his film about the Flint Lead /Water crisis) I was able to speak with people about our efforts to stop the privatization and cover ups here in Chicago that could eventually mirror the plight of Flint.
Chicago needs to be a leader in joining the world community in making changes to benefit the environment. I propose changes in building codes that require solar panels on new construction, more efficiently insulated new construction, limits on single use plastics, eliminate Fracking in Illinois and passing aggressive measures to preserve Great Lakes and all freshwater habitats. These are some examples of the discussions we need to have in city council about reducing our carbon footprint.
C. Women-Owned Businesses: As showcased by the numerous reports by the City’s Inspector General over the years, there is a perception by many contractors that the lists of women and minority owned businesses are inaccurate and include many businesses that aren’t truly women and/or minority owned. This reputation discourages voluntary use of the list and also may mean that true women and minority owned businesses are not receiving the benefits of the list. What are your thoughts on continuing the use of the list and, if you believe it should continue to be used, should there be changes to how the list is kept and are there ways the City of Chicago can increase confidence in the accuracy of the list?
I propose more aggressive oversight of contract awards in Chicago. City Council has for too long been allowed to use contracted services and construction projects as havens for corrupted behaviors. All minority owned businesses and all businesses that wish to do business with the taxpayers of Chicago should be fully vetted through impartial means. We cannot cut women and minorities out of business opportunities because some are suspect. Regulations for meeting the standards of these contracts can be adjusted to state clearly that not only the majority business owner be a woman or other minority but that the work being done and the auxiliary services on jobs and contract awards also need to have strict guidelines for hiring. We need a list that we can use!
D. Community Safety: Community safety is critical for residents and visitors in any ward in the City of Chicago. Recently, the city entered into a consent decree to address policies, training, practices and accountability of the Chicago Police Department in an attempt to ensure police reform. While our homicide rate is not the highest in the US and gun violence in Chicago has been declining in recent years, it continues to garner national attention and some neighborhoods have actually seen an increase in murders over the past year. Youth are among the highest at risk for violence and women often bear the burden of keeping children in their families and community safe. Recognizing that the issues surrounding safety are complex and multi-pronged, what is your highest priority with relating to safety of your ward’s residents and who are you receiving advice from to address that priority? (Feel free to include any necessary context for your answer — context may, but does not need to, include citywide considerations, feasibility of implementation, political challenges, concerns regarding overzealous implementation of safety protocol, or anything else necessary to understand your answer.)
The crime rate in Chicago is an indication that communities are underserved and have been for years under current and previous administration and City Council. We need fully funded neighborhood schools, trade programs in public high schools, a focus on job creation, and community based health services in all communities.
Chicago also lacks affordable housing and living wage jobs. The root causes of crime can be stated as did John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath , “When a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need….repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”
Chicagoans want reforms in government. Public oversight of city departments such as an elected school board or elected police board that would provide input are needed in our city where Mayoral prerogative is used to run the city without legislative input from the Council. I fully support the CPAC (Civilian We need fully funded and community based police in all communities. We do not need our current militarized “force” that travels around the city and uses tactics that invade and destroy communities. We need FULL DISCLOSURE AND ACCOUNTABILITY on the part of our police. The Justice Department came to Chicago and finally produced (about 97 or 98) recommendations for improved policing. Only one of those recommendations was to build a Police Academy. We may or may not need a new training facility — but the fact is that Chicago’s pay to play corruption is rooted in these building projects — no bid contracts, no union workers, cost overruns, pay offs, etc. all make this an attractive option for “insiders” and Alderman who want to be rewarded for supporting the Mayor on other issues.
We need accountability, training, more staff (services not just officers) and community relations training and support. Neighborhood Citizens need a voice in how the police should interact in communities.
5. Closing comments
(Suggestions include: Tell us why you should be alderman, the impact you want to have on the community, your goals for the ward and the city of Chicago. Final thoughts.)1. Tell us about yourself
(Provide us with a brief summary about who you are, how long you have lived in the ward, what made you decide to run, and/or why you want to be an alderman.)
I have lived most of my life in the 40th Ward of Chicago.
I have a personal, first hand understanding of how our system of regressive taxes, fines, and fees go hand in hand with privatization to drain money from the public which should be invested in neighborhood residents and services.
Over the past decade I have seen our hard-working families, friends and neighbors become profit centers for the downtown corporate and tourism trade. For decades, our City Council has transferred our neighborhoods’ wealth to downtown. Then cynically, through privatization and tax breaks City Hall transfers more wealth to the very corporations who outsource our jobs and receive TIF money that is skimmed from our schools, parks, health clinics and libraries. This must stop.
As a CPS math teacher and the only union member in this race I also know how unemployment, cuts in benefits, health insurance and retirement benefits affect families and children. I will fight for equal pay and equity in all sectors of the job market and in all city and state funded contracts and social programs that affect our communities.
As a teacher, Local School Council member and former social worker I understand that equity and equality are not the same thing. Equity means that people and communities should receive the tools and services that they need to reach a common goal or to achieve as others do. Some communities need more funding and services to achieve equality. I fully support this and will fight for affordable housing, smaller class sizes, adequate and affordable public transportation, access to affordable health services in all communities, job creation and the elimination of food deserts.
I will continue to bring my passion, experience, problem solving skills and voice to City Council to represent neighborhoods, families and working people in Chicago.