Ald. Jason C. Ervin (28th) | File photo
Updated: January 20, 2011 4:28PM
Birth date: 05-07-1974
Political affiliation: Democrat
Neighborhood: West Garfield Park
Occupation/Firm name: Village Manager / Village of Maywood
Marital status: No response
Campaign HQ address: 261 N. Pulaski Rd., 60624
Campaign website: www.vote4ervin.com
What is your campaign budget?
What are your top priorities for the City of Chicago?
I would strongly recommend that Chicago take bold initiatives to invest in our infrastructure to improve our economic position and create more jobs for our citizens. According to a study by the Washington, D.C. based Brookings Institution and London School of Economics and Political Science, growth in employment and per-capita income in Chicago has consistently lagged behind its national and foreign peers since at least 1993. A great deal of Chicago's lag behind foreign metros reflects a global shift of economic growth from the U.S. to developing, third-world countries, according to the study. Chicago lacks the necessary investment in infrastructure, such as, mass transit, education facilities, logistics (trains, trucks & highways), communication/internet services, etc. Also, it is important that the city restore trust in government. I recommend that greater transparency and accountability be instituted on all levels of local government to assist in accomplishing this goal.
What are your top priorities for your ward?
Job creation and training
To help meet the demand for green jobs, the City has created Greencorps Chicago, a job training program that provides diverse environmental trades training for some of the city's most economically-disadvantaged citizens. I would expand this program in addition to the infrastructure jobs referenced above. Participants are trained in environmental remediation, landscaping, maintenance and a host of other green jobs that are sorely needed throughout the city. Greencorps trainees have performed maintenance of green infrastructure and landscapes on many projects including Chicago Park District projects, schools, restored native landscape systems, and green roofs, including the Chicago City Hall green roof. I would work to expand and create more programs like the Greencorps Chicago as one of many ways to create jobs and provide training.
Safer Neighborhoods and CAPS
Push to reallocate police services from low-crime to high-crime neighborhoods
Address the 911 inequities service in my ward
Use more targeted surveillance technology for drug hot spot.
Provide incentives for more community involvement.
Avoid cutting back the CAPS program and the community officer
Increase funding for programs such as Cease Fire
Better schools and access to higher education
Support teacher training. For severely underperforming teachers, make sure they have adequate support for training.
Implement a mentor/mentee program of older students to younger students to help with studies but also life issues.
Appoint a Task Force to reduce waste in schools so that monies can be appropriately used.
Work with various Foundations to bring art and music back into the classrooms.
Work with local food organizations and support local farmers to provide nutritious meals for students.
Community empowerment and city services
Increase community participation in major decisions
Host town hall meetings and create community advisory boards
Push for equitable and fair delivery of city services
Cleaner streets and garbage services via Streets & Sanitation
The city is in serious financial trouble and can't afford the level of service it currently provides. For 2011, Mayor Daley, with City Council backing, balanced the budget without raising taxes or fees, relying instead on some cost-saving measures and one-time fixes, including using proceeds from leasing the city's parking meters. Do you support this approach? What should be done differently going forward?
Please be specific about your plans to reshape government: what services and departments would you scale back or cut? Can you identify new revenue sources? How can the City reduce personnel costs? What kind of concessions should the City seek from the unions?
The short term approach implemented by the city is fine temporarily. However, I strongly believe we must begin moving away from the short term budget fixes of the last few years. A number of approaches either implemented or suggested raise serious problems while other approaches are still being discussed. I also believe that increased openness and public input into city government would benefit the city and its residents in a number of areas. I would like to see an annual report presented at a public hearing concerning the previous year's budget performance.
The city's four employee pension funds have been called a "ticking time bomb," with Mayor Daley's pension commission predicting that the four funds will run out of money in 20 years. "There is no low- or no-cost solution to this problem," the commission wrote in a report earlier this year. "Deferring action is not a viable option." What is your plan for bringing the pension funds to solvency?
I would support a new dedicated revenue stream to support funding as long as there was not a reduction in the funding levels from current sources (i.e., Lottery for Education swap). I am not in favor of reducing pension benefits for current employees. As of Dec. 31, Chicago's public pensions had unfunded liabilities totaling an unimaginable $14.6 billion. Mayor Daley's blue-ribbon Commission to Strengthen Chicago's Pension Plans predicts that the firefighters' and police officers' funds, the sickest of the four pensions, might be depleted within 10 years.
The commission wisely recommends that funding decisions for the city's pensions be based on sound actuarial principles and that employees' contributions shouldn't be simplistically tied to their salaries, as is now the policy. But the commission offers little practical guidance on how best to fill the gaping funding hole. Although the commission encourages an increase in employer contributions, it neglects to identify a single source of new revenue. Despite the pain that deferring real action has already inflicted, the panel even suggests the possibility of issuing pension obligation bonds. I would agree with the panel and support a dedicated revenue stream to help meet funding needs.
Does Chicago need 50 aldermen? If not, what's a better number? What City Council committees could be combined? What other ways can the City Council save money?
Chicago should keep its current legislative structure. I agree with Alderman Michael Zalewski's proposal to consolidate the 19 standing committees to save Chicago taxpayers money. There is a possibility that we might be able to save up to a $1 million. Unfortunately, $1 million is not going solve our massive budget problem. But, it is a good gesture. The alderman would like to eliminate or consolidate the committees of the following four aldermen retiring from politics or moving on to other jobs: Environment Committee Chairman Ginger Rugai (19th); Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Allen (38th); Human Relations Committee Chairman Helen Shiller (46th) and Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Mary Ann Smith (48th). However, eliminating the Transportation Committee concerns me considering the effect public transportation has on my ward. Fewer staff would mean less service for the members of my community and that greatly concerns me. Perhaps consolidating this committee with another appropriate committee would be best in terms of service to Chicagoans.
Chicago was designed as a weak mayor, strong council form of government yet Mayor Daley wields considerable power over the City Council. What measures would you recommend to strengthen the council? On which issues should the mayor lead? On which should the council lead?
With a new mayor coming in, I believe the Council will regain its natural role. When an executive maintains power for an extended period of time, power tends to gravitate to that individual. The Mayor should provide leadership on most issues.
The city's tax-increment financing program has been criticized on several fronts, including the proliferation of districts, how money is diverted from schools and other basic city services, how TIF funding decisions are made and for an overall lack of transparency. How would you improve the TIF program? Does the TIF law need to be changed in any way?
I would support efforts to terminate a TIF if the objectives of the TIF plan have been accomplished before the 23 year period has ended. I would also vote to return unspent and uncommitted TIF funds on an annual basis to the various taxing bodies. The city of Chicago's TIF districts collected $520 million in 2009, the second highest amount on record. I would begin by supporting efforts to make the TIF program more transparent. Community development that is beneficial to the people in the ward is critical to its survival. However, state government owes CPS a total of $370 million for the last and current school year. Poorly educated children do not benefit any community. Therefore, I would support efforts to look at the estimated $520 million in TIF reserves that remain untouched to assist CPS.
Mayor Daley has focused on privatizing city assets. Are there any other assets the City Council should consider privatizing? If so, would you make any changes to the way privatization deals are negotiated and passed through the City Council?
Chicago is selling off infrastructure and leasing it to private investors, including: parking meters, parking garages, the Chicago Skyway ... Chicago is leading the nation in this wave of "privatizations." Over the past six years, Chicago has executed three major privatization deals and is considering more. No other American city has been so aggressive in putting public resources in private hands. The transactions are worth hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars, and have financial implications for current and future generations. Though the City and its advisors have arguably demonstrated financial savvy in structuring these transactions, they have occurred without meaningful public debate regarding how they serve the City's long-term goals, that is, how each privatization might constrain or advance the City's social, economic, or even environmental objectives. As Alderman, I would use the following criteria to assist me in determining if privatization should be considered for any given proposal.
What are the potential benefits that private operation would bring to this particular asset?
How might privatization constrain future options?
What are the social implications of the privatization?
What are the alternatives?
How can taxpayers be assured that they are getting the best price for the deal?
How will the proceeds be used?
Is there adequate ongoing oversight?
Is there a process for comprehensive public input?
The Chicago Police Department is understaffed, with no lasting budget solution in sight. Given the current staffing levels, what changes would you recommend to use resources more efficiently? Do you support realigning beats in a way that moves police from lower crime areas to higher crime neighborhoods? What should happen to the diminished CAPS program?
I am very concerned that at least 3 Chicago Police officers have been gunned down over the last two months leaving communities living in fear. I would support Alderman Edward Burke's efforts to bring back a program that was pretty successful in the 1970s where off-duty officers can be hired back in the district to make up for personnel shortages on their days off. I would also support the Fraternal Order of Police in considering this as overtime. I also support realigning the beats to move more police to higher crime neighborhoods. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars to keep police in areas they are not needed. The latest city budget removed 111 police officers out of community policing and limited police hiring next year to 200 officers, leaving the Chicago Police Department with a shortage of police officers. The CAPS program is critical to my ward and many others. It is critical that we determine a way to maintain the staffing levels of this program to avoid increasing the crime rate for the city.
The next mayor will choose a new CEO for the Chicago Public Schools. Do you think the CEO needs to have education experience? Should the new mayor continue the Renaissance 2010 program of shutting down failing schools and creating new ones? Should the new mayor continue Ron Huberman's "culture of calm" effort, which aims to improve the culture of the toughest schools and provides mentors and extra support for kids at greatest risk of being shot? What should CPS do to improve neighborhood schools that are struggling to educate the large numbers of students left behind, the students that don't make it into test-based, charters or other specialized schools?
The next CEO should have an educational background. The ideas of Renaissance 2010 should be continued however there have been issues noted which needs to be addressed. The culture of calm and extra resources for the toughest schools should continue. Stop the brain drain. You cannot be what you cannot see. The number of magnets and charters should be decreased as they suck high caliber students from their respective neighborhood schools and creates a concentration of lower achieving students. This is the same public housing experiment being practiced with children. Concentrations of low achievers will not lead to progress, it may create a downward spiral from which my children in the 28th Ward may not recover from.
Do you support one or more casinos for Chicago? If so, where would you like to see casinos located?
I am in support of state-regulated gaming in order to generate revenue for the Capital bill that would fix deteriorating roads, bridges and public facilities here in Chicago. However, I would require a citywide referendum before any gambling is instituted in the City. On July 13, 2009 Governor Pat Quinn signed the Video Gaming Act making video gaming terminals legal in Illinois. The Act allows for video gaming terminals to be placed in certain liquor establishments, truck stops and fraternal/veterans clubs throughout the state. I support these locations.
The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has the responsibility of implementing and regulating gaming in Illinois. Initially, the Board must promulgate administrative rules. The rules will provide guidance on matters such as, but not limited to, standards, testing requirements, application procedures and hearings. There will be a hearing for the public to comment on the proposed rules on a date to be determined. Also, there must be ways to prevent and assist people who become addicted to gambling. Gambling addictions tears families apart, which in the long run affect the health of all cities.
Aldermen have considerable influence over TIF, zoning and other decisions, both large and small, related to development and services in their ward. Do aldermen have too much influence?
No. I do not believe aldermen have too much influence. The only other group that should have influence over what takes place in their wards are the people who live there. Therefore, I would support greater transparency and create community advisory councils to allow for increased participation.
If elected alderman, do you plan to maintain an outside job? Would you pledge not to hold any job that represents a conflict of interest, including those that involve spending public dollars?
I do not plan to have an outside job. I pledge not to hold any job that represents a conflict of interest, including those that involve spending public dollars.
Would you accept campaign contributions or gifts from your employees? Would you pledge not to hire relatives on your staff?
I would accept campaign contributions or gifts from my employees, limits are in place to regulate such. I will not hire relatives on my staff.
Does the City need to change the way it hands out contracts? Should aldermen reclaim oversight of City contracts? If so, contracts above what dollar amount?
I would support legislation or an ordinance that would restore City Council oversight and review of all City Contracts over $500,000.
Do you support an inspector general just for the City Council? Would you support giving the city's existing inspector general power to investigate aldermen and their staffs, including subpoena power?
I support an Inspector General for the City Council. I would not support giving the existing Executive Inspector General power to investigate the legislative branch.
Should there be new limits on who can lobby City Hall officials, including aldermen? Should former City Hall employees be prohibited from doing business with the city after their departure? If so, for how long?
Yes, former City Hall employees should be prohibited based upon similar requirements instituted by the federal government.
What's the best book ever written about Chicago? Why?
Mike Royko - Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago. I wrote a term paper in eighth grade on the book and thought it to be fascinating.
Please list your educational background
Governors State University, University Park, IL
Masters of Public Administration, August 2006
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL
Bachelor of Science in Accounting, May 1996
Please list civic, professional, fraternal or other organizations to which you belong
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Member (1999-Present)
Government Finance Officers Association, Member (2005-Present)
Governors State University CBPA Advisory Board, Member (2009-Present)
Illinois Government Finance Officers Association, Member (2005-Present)
Maywood Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Member (2007-Present)
Rotary International, Member (2007-Present)
SIUC College of Business Minority Advisory Board, Member (1999-Present)
Common Grounds Foundation Director, Board Treasurer (2001-2007)
Westinghouse Career Academy -- Local School Council, Member (2000-2007)
George Tilton Elementary School -- Local School Council, Member (2000-2006)
INROADS/Chicago, Inc. Board of Directors, Member (1994-1996)
John Hope Community Academy Library Board, Member (2002-2005)
New Morning Star MB Church Board of Trustees, Member (1998-2004)
Reading is Fundamental in Chicago Board of Directors, Member (1998-2002)
Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees, Member (1995-1996)
Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?
I have not held elective or appointive political office. I currently work for the Village of Maywood, IL as the Village Manager.
Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government
Jason Ervin - Village Manager, Village of Maywood, IL
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed
Mr. & Mrs. Claudell Ervin - $10,000, Mr. Clarence Rupert - $2,500, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Johnson - $2,000, Mr. Joseph L. Ponsetto - $1,500, Mr. Charles Smith - $1,000
Please paste a brief biography here
My name is Jason Claude Ervin, I am 36 years of age, and reside at 4238 W. Washington Blvd in the West Garfield Park community. I am a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC) where I received my undergraduate degree in Accounting and have a graduate degree from Governors State University in Public Administration. While at SIUC, I worked to build coalitions among students and faculty and was ultimately elected to the SIU Board of Trustees as a Student Representative in my senior year. Also while at SIUC, I had the opportunity to confer with and introduce to the campus the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton.
Professionally, I am a Certified Public Accountant and the Village Manager for the Village of Maywood, a bustling community of over 27,000, where I oversee all operations (Police, Fire, Public Works, Finance, and Community Development) of the Village reporting directly to Mayor Henderson Yarbrough, Sr. and the Village of Maywood Board of Trustees. In 2010, I was named the Person of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce for my work in the business community and in 2009 was named the Person of the Year by Rotary International for my work in the administration of the Village of Maywood. I also previously served as the Village's Director of Finance. Prior to working in government, I was a self employed Real Estate Broker and Certified Real Estate Appraiser and an Experienced Senior Auditor for the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen, LLP.
I have been an active member of the 28th Ward Democratic Organization for the past 14 years serving as a member of the Executive Board and Precinct Captain under the leadership of Democratic Ward Committeeman Ed H. Smith. I am also a member of the Executive Board of the Proviso Township Democratic Organization serving as its Treasurer under the leadership of Proviso Township Democratic Committeeman, State Representative Karen A. Yarbrough. I have been active in the 28th Ward coordinating the activities of many elected officials including State Representatives Annazette R. Collins, Camille Lilly, and Karen A. Yarbrough and Alderman Ed Smith's last two campaigns. I have served on the Local School Councils of Tilton Elementary School and Westinghouse Career Academy and have participated in CAPS within my local community. Furthermore, I have been a member of the Executive Boards of both the Young Democrats of Cook County and the Young Democrats of America.