Voter’s Guide: Where the mayoral candidates stand on the issues
February 19, 2011 1:27AM
Clockwise from left, Gery Chico, Rahm Emanuel, Carol Moseley Braun, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, William Walls, Miguel del Valle
Updated: February 20, 2011 11:38PM
GERY CHICO: Would strip down city budget and rebuild it to focus on police and job creation. Promises city will live within its means without relying on new taxes.
RAHM EMANUEL: Pledges to cut city spending by $75 million in 2011. Has outlined $500 million in further cuts. Would reduce sales tax by a quarter of one percent, but broaden base to include luxury services and reform natural gas tax to better match actual use.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Pledges “no new taxes.” Supports a moratorium on tax increment financing funds and funneling that money back into the budget.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Believes middle-management cuts could yield $100 million in savings. Moving to a grid garbage system could save another $25 million. Would institute a speculator’s tax.
WILLIAM WALLS: Will not raise taxes on city residents during recession. Instead, would cut profit margins of big-government contractors from 30 percent to 10 percent. Would eliminate beautification projects and non-essential infrastructure works.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Wants to audit the city budget to find waste and fraud, look for more revenue from the state and possibly create a city income tax on high earners.
GERY CHICO: Pledges to negotiate directly with labor leaders to craft pension reform plan that includes shared sacrifice. Says everything must be on the table, but will not begin talks by dictating to unions.
RAHM EMANUEL: Considers current pension system “dishonest” and “unsustainable.” To avoid 90 percent property tax increase, would work with unions to forge a share-the-pain compromise. Has warned that benefits must be cut for existing employees.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Would not cut pension benefits for existing city employees.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Opposed to “reducing benefits for current employees,” but supports larger contributions and later retirement age for future employees.
WILLIAM WALLS: Would move from defined benefits plan to defined contributions plan similar to 401(k) plans, but only for new employees. Existing employees would face no changes.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Would not reduce benefits for current employees but would consider reducing them for future employees.
PRIVATIZATION OF MIDWAY AIRPORT AND OTHER CITY ASSETS
GERY CHICO: Open to reviving Midway deal only after significant public input and scrutiny to avoid another parking meter debacle. Would never privatize water system or 911 or other emergency services.
RAHM EMANUEL: Would permanently ground Midway deal. Opposed to “full privatization” of other city assets. Will work with City Council to earmark all revenue from future deals for long-term investment.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Would not lease the whole airport — maybe some functions, but only in short-term leases, not 50 or 75 years.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Opposed to privatizing city assets unless the proceeds of a Midway privatization would be dedicated to shoring up the pension fund.
WILLIAM WALLS: Believes in no privatization whatsoever, arguing city assets belong to Chicago taxpayers. Says city workers can compete with anybody in the private sector.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Generally opposes privatization but would consider it on a case-by-case basis. Thought the plan to privatize Midway short-changed residents.
RESIDENCY OF CITY WORKERS
GERY CHICO: Open to lifting city residency requirement or at least negotiating it. Initially said Chicago’s middle-class tax base can survive without requiring city workers to live here, but may be having second thoughts.
RAHM EMANUEL: Open to talking about eliminating city residency requirement, but only after examining impact on Chicago neighborhoods. Acknowledges that police officers and firefighters are “anchors of their neighborhoods.”
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Opposes ending the residency requirement for city workers, saying to do so would hurt Chicago neighborhoods.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Supports the requirement that city workers live in Chicago, arguing that ending it would damage neighborhoods.
WILLIAM WALLS: Believes the residency rules are non-negotiable. It’s too important to neighborhood stabilization.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Open to discussing dropping the residency requirement for city workers. Would look at what’s happening in other cities.
CRIME, PUBLIC SAFETY
GERY CHICO: Promises to hire 2,000 police officers over four years at a cost of $200 million, revive community policing (CAPS) program, dump Supt. Jody Weis to restore morale and strip away layers of unnecessary police bureaucracy.
RAHM EMANUEL: Pledges to put 1,000 more officers on the street by using police cadets to do desk work, cracking down on medical abuses and renegotiating policy that allows 365 sick days every two years. Would dump Supt. Jody Weis.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Wants to return to the days of the beat cop familiar with the neighborhood. Would replace Supt. Jody Weis.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Supports filing all the vacancies on the police force. Would replace Supt. Jody Weis.
WILLIAM WALLS: Would create so-called “flex” police districts, in which assigned officers could be moved, when needed, into troubled areas. Would dump Supt. Jody Weis, but find a new role for him within city government, possibly homeland security.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Wants more officers on the streets; more resources for them to work with, and a crackdown on illegal gun traffickers. Would consider keeping Supt. Jody Weis, based on the crime rate dropping under his watch.
IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION
GERY CHICO: Would provide vouchers for up to 50,000 students at chronically failing schools, slash CPS central office by one-third; expand pre-school, school day and school year; replace high school textbooks with a laptop for every student.
RAHM EMANUEL: Would create local “Race to the Top” fund to reward best teachers and schools. Supports curtailing teachers’ right to strike. Wants teachers to work longer hours for extra pay and to empower parents by creating performance contracts.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Wants to shift the focus away from selective enrollment and charter schools back toward improving neighborhood schools.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Would encourage more community learning centers to involve families in schools and more programs to lure high school drop-outs back to school.
WILLIAM WALLS: Pledges to choose new schools chief with an education — not a business — background. Favors switch to elected school board, universal curriculum for all students, eliminating charter schools and strengthening local schools.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Would encourage more community involvement in education, share more information with parents and make sure the schools have the latest in technology. Argues teacher layoffs should be based on student needs, not tenure.
GARBAGE PICK-UP, BLUE-BAG RECYCLING
GERY CHICO: Wants to switch from ward-by-ward to less costly grid system; expand curbside recycling to all households citywide, bankrolled —in part— by selling advertising on garbage trucks and garbage bins.
RAHM EMANUEL: Wants a “benchmark” price per-ton for trash pick-up and give city first crack at meeting it. If it doesn’t, would switch to grid or zone system or allow competition between city and private firms. Citywide recycling after all that.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Believing some areas get more clean-up services than others, vows to change that. Wants to make curbside recycling work. Would not privatize garbage pick-up.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Wants curbside recycling expanded to all parts of city; would change garbage collection to a grid system instead of a ward-based system.
WILLIAM WALLS: Switch to cheaper grid system for both garbage pick-up and recycling. Would reward households that recycle more with faster city services. Wants to phase in citywide curbside recycling over four-year period.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Believes better education of the public could make recycling work.
GERY CHICO: Will negotiate directly with airlines now suing the city to develop operational triggers for completion of new runways, triggers that makes sense to both sides.
RAHM EMANUEL: Considers O’Hare Modernization Plan “critical” to maintaining Chicago’s status as international hub. Pledges to “keep it on budget and complete it” after resolving differences with major airlines.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Opposes the expansion. Thinks we should have a third airport. Has not decided whether Peotone or another location is best.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Supports but wants to work “in agreement with United and American airlines. ”
WILLIAM WALLS: Would re-evaluate entire project, possibly putting Phase 2 of runway expansion project on hold until passenger demand recovers.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Wants to “go back to the table with the owners of the big airlines and make some concessions.”
GERY CHICO: Pledges to create czar overseeing business development and job creation. Would eliminate $4-a-month-per-employee head tax, allow same-day permitting for small businesses and market city’s 14,000 vacant lots to attract new business.
RAHM EMANUEL: Would lift $4-a-month employee head tax, modernize Regional Port District, overhaul job training programs, streamline business regulation, establish technology campus and create $15 million funds to assist businesses.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Pledges to “cut the red tape and roll out the red carpet” for new businesses and entrepreneurs; loosen restrictions on home-based businesses. Supports living wage ordinance.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Wants to lure more green and high-tech jobs to the city; supports the living wage ordinance and thinks local communities should decide whether they want Wal-Marts.
WILLIAM WALLS: Wants to direct $2 billion from capital improvement program to small- and medium-sized businesses that create neighborhood jobs. Would focus on nanotechnology and revive living wage ordinance. Opposed to Wal-Mart expansion.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Would recruit green and high-tech companies to Chicago and increase job training, especially for youth and public-private partnerships. Supports the living wage ordinance, and, if Wal-Mart is willing to pay it, Wal-Mart.
RENOVATION OF WRIGLEY FIELD
GERY CHICO: Believes Cubs owners should pay for their own renovation. Opposes Ricketts family plan to forfeit decades of amusement tax growth to pay for it.
RAHM EMANUEL: Shares North Siders’ “affection” for Cubs and Wrigley, but has “reservations” about asking taxpayers to support a private company when education, public safety and other basic services have been impacted by Chicago’s budget crisis.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: “If we can be helpful without leaving the taxpayers saddled with debt, then I would be interested.”
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Opposed to renovation of Wrigley Field “at taxpayers’ expense.”
WILLIAM WALLS: Opposed at this time, arguing struggling economy will not allow it and taxpayers can’t afford it.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Wants to provide Wrigley “all the support we can. I don’t know about taxpayer dollars.”
PLAN FOR TASTE OF CHICAGO AND OTHER CITY FESTIVALS
GERY CHICO: Agrees with Mayor Daley that Taste should remain free, but not necessarily by folding four money-losing festivals into the Taste for one day each. Will look for private funds to better support those festivals.
RAHM EMANUEL: Believes city festivals should remain “accessible to everyone” to celebrate city’s arts, culture and cuisine. After this year, would re-examine Daley’s plan to turn Taste over to Park District and fold four money-losing festivals into it.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Consolidating the festivals is a good idea, but admission should be free.
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Does not support an admission fee for the Taste, “but I understand we have to deal with costs,”
WILLIAM WALLS: Favors a move back to the neighborhood festival concept, with events in every neighborhood. Would keep Taste of Chicago free, but cut it in half — from 10 days to five. Keep Blues and Jazz Fests, but shorten them to two days each.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: Favors consolidating festivals “when you’re low on funds. But I’m definitely not for charging to get into the Taste of Chicago.”
BRINGING SUPER BOWL TO CHICAGO
GERY CHICO: He proposed it, so he’s all for it. If New York’s new outdoor stadium can host a Super Bowl, why not Chicago — even it requires a slight expansion of Soldier Field.
RAHM EMANUEL: Wouldn’t mind bringing Super Bowl to Chicago, but it should not “divert attention” from top three priorities: stabilizing city finances; strengthening public schools, and securing Chicago streets.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: “I think it would be terrific, but I’m not renaming Soldier Field, I can tell you that.”
MIGUEL DEL VALLE: Would not be a top priority. “They need a domed stadium.”
WILLIAM WALLS: Bringing Super Bowl should wait until we get a domed stadium, and that is not a priority.
PATRICIA VAN PELT-WATKINS: “I love that idea. I’m sure that brings all kinds of revenue and tourists here.”