Fiscally Sound City Government
Like many other state and local governments, Chicago faces difficult financial challenges. The escalating cost of pensions threatens the financial well-being of the City, as well as the Chicago Public Schools, and reforms to these systems must remain a top priority for all city officials. In the face of these shortfalls to mounting structural budget deficits, the City has made many tough choices to ensure that critical investments in education, job creation and safety are maintained for the children and families of Chicago. These tough choices have also served as an opportunity for reform to make this City government work better for all its residents. City leadership must remain vigilant in supporting initiatives that continue to change the way Chicago does business. Controlling spending, using new technologies and initiatives to improve efficiencies, and reducing the size of City government have helped move the City’s financial position in the right direction. More remains to be done to further reduce its structural deficit, but City government shouldn’t be forced to choose between protecting critical investments in neighborhoods and families, and making itself more efficient, accountable and smaller.
Much progress has been made in Chicago to expand access to a quality, 21st century education for every child in every neighborhood. This progress is already yielding results. Since 2011, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has moved away from one of the shortest school days in the nation to a full, quality 7-hour day. Its curriculum is now aligned to the rigorous Common Core, while preschool has been made available for every child and a new teacher evaluation system – that supports our educators and ensures accountability – has been implemented. To maintain this forward progress, Chicago needs leaders who support these initiatives and policies that put children first. Our elected officials should demand that every family have access to a wide range of school choices, including high-quality neighborhood, charter, IB, STEM and Selective Enrollment schools. They must also reject calls from special interests for an elected school board, which would only further inject politics into our public schools and put their interests before those of our students.
While more work remains to be done, Chicago has recently experienced the lowest crime rates in nearly 50 years after the implementation of new tactics that bolstered community policing, put more beat officers on the streets and created a new gang database system. This represents progress, but our public officials cannot be satisfied until every individual throughout our city experiences the same sense of safety that most Chicagoans already enjoy. We cannot rest until every child and every parent feels safe in their own neighborhood. Our leaders must continue to support progressive tactics that will continue to make every neighborhood safe for every family.
Economic Development and Job Creation
Today, Chicago has the 23rd largest economy in the world and is ranked the second most economically competitive city in North America. Thanks to major investments in and partnerships with our local tourism and tech industries, small businesses and corporate community, Chicago is moving in the right direction. To keep this momentum going, our leaders must support initiatives that help foster economic development, investments in our neighborhoods and good paying jobs in order to keep Chicago affordable and livable for middle class families. City leadership must continue to build upon partnerships with the private sector to keep Chicago competitive. Elected officials can’t vilify our corporate community if we are to build a robust and sustainable economic climate that will help support key public sector engines, such as great schools, transportation, parks and safety. Chicago must have leaders that are willing to work in collaboration with the business community – not against it. And, City leaders must ensure that private sector partnerships bring the greatest return possible for all Chicagoans.
Investing in our Infrastructure
To remain competitive in the 21st century and enhance the quality of life for its residents, Chicago must continue to invest in its infrastructure, which is the backbone of the city’s economy. Chicago businesses and jobs rely heavily on our public infrastructure, from roads and public transit to our international airports, public schools and water system. At the same time, investments in our neighborhoods, including the rebuilding of public schools, playgrounds and sports fields as well as streets, bike paths and nature trails, all support strong communities for our families. Our elected officials must support ongoing and robust investments in Chicago’s infrastructure that will continue to attract new businesses and create stronger neighborhoods.
If you are a candidate for Chicago alderman in the upcoming February 24, 2015 municipal election, please fill out the form below to request the Chicago Forward Questionnaire: