The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 8th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Linda Hudson submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Linda Hudson?
He’s running for: 8th Ward alderman His political/civic background: I was one of the lead organizers for the Can the Tax Campaign, a community-led initiative that successfully pressured the Cook County Board of Commissioners to repeal the sugary drink tax. I am a founding member and current President of the Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition (EWAC), a community-based organization whose mission is to ensure that local public officials are accountable and make decisions based solely on their constituents’ best interests. I am currently the President of the Avalon Park Advisory Council where I’m working to bring about much needed repairs to the neglected park. After learning that the Avalon Park area had off-the-charts lead levels in its drinking water, EWAC alerted the residents and notified them of where they could get free water testing kits. There was no notification from our elected officials. I Worked on former 8th Ward Alderman Lorraine Dixon’s first campaign. I also ran for 8th Ward Democratic Committeeman in 2016. His occupation: Senior Tax Assistant His education: B.A. Business Management- Chicago State University. Campaign website: agreater8withlindahudson.com Facebook: facebook.com/lindahudson.8ward/
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Linda Hudson:Business stability and economic development. Public Safety. Education and programs for youth.
Recent civic work
Please tell us what you have done in the last two years to serve the city, your neighborhood or a civic organization. Please be specific.
Linda hudson:I was one of the lead organizers for the “Can the Tax” Campaign, a community-led initiative that successfully pressured the Cook County Board of Commissioners to repeal the sugary drink tax. I am a founding member and current President of the Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition (“EWAC”), a community-based organization whose mission is to ensure that local public officials are accountable and make decisions based solely on their constituents’ best interests. I am currently the President of the Avalon Park Advisory Council where I’m working to bring about much needed repairs to the neglected park. After learning that the Avalon Park area had off-the-charts lead levels in its drinking water, EWAC alerted the residents and notified them of where they could get free water testing kits.In 2015 I led EWAC in galvanizing community support to stop the placement of a medical marijuana dispensary in the 8th Ward. This forced the current alderman to withdraw her support and stopped the opening of the dispensary.
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Chicago is on the hook for $42 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, which works out to $35,000 for every household. Those pensions, in the language of the Illinois Constitution, “shall not be diminished or impaired.” Should the state Constitution be amended to allow a reduction in pension benefits for current city employees or retirees? How about reducing pension benefits for new employees? Please explain.
Linda Hudson:The constitution should not be amended to allow a reduction for current city retirees. But negotiations should be done to amend benefits for current(less than 10 years of service and new employees.
Of the following often proposed sources of new revenue for Chicago, which of the following do you favor, and why? A Chicago casino, legalized and taxed recreational marijuana, a LaSalle Street tax, a commuter tax, a property tax increase, a municipal sales tax increase, a real estate transfer tax increase, video gambling.
Linda Hudson:A Chicago casino with certain guarantees that funds go for education and reducing pension obligations. Also, the location of the Casino must be carefully considered. A LaSalle St. tax sounds good, but I need to see a more detailed analysis on its viability. Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana is probably going to happen and I would like to see any money for Chicago be used for infrastructure work that could be needed as we look at lead contamination in the water.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Linda Hudson:We have to think outside the box since Chicago residents already face high taxes. One new idea would be a storm drainage fee based on square footage of outdoor space (i.e., parking lots). Big box stores, large corporations and other tax exempt entities; such as large churches and universities, with large parking lots would pay a larger share for their disproportionate burdening of the system. This money could also be used to deal with the lead in Chicago’s water.
We need to take a look at North Dakota’s public banking model. It is the bank for the state of North Dakota serving as a depository for all taxes and fees collected and its public subdivisions as well as working funds for state institutions (except pension funds and other state managed trust). And it uses these resources to fund development, agriculture, and small businesses in the state, mainly by working through the states community banks. These banks are established and controlled by cities or states, rather than private interests. They collect deposits from government entities, from school districts, from city tax receipts, from state infrastructure funds, and use that money to issue loans and support public priorities. They are led by independent professionals but accountable to elected officials. Public banks are a way to build local wealth and resist the market’s predatory predilections. They are a way to end municipal reliance on Wall Street institutions, with their high fees, their scandal-ridden track records, and their vile investments in private prisons and pipelines. They are a way, at long last, to manage money in the public interest.
Tax-increment financing districts are a primary economic development tool for Chicago. In a TIF district, taxes from the growth of property values are set aside for 23 years to be used to support public projects and private development. What changes do you favor, if any, in Chicago’s TIF program?
Linda Hudson: There is more than $1billion dollars in TIF funds sitting in accounts all over the city. These monies were supposed to be for blighted communities but have been mostly used for the Mayor’s pet projects. We have closed schools and mental health clinics because “we are broke” when in reality, we are not. Unless the city is going to use TIFs as they were intended then I support the elimination of TIFs. Currently, there are too many problems facing the city for TIFS to continue as structured. TIF funds should be considered to help reduce the city’s pension debt.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Linda Hudson: Most importantly, it should be removed from affordable housing decisions. Most of the city’s affordable housing is located in majority black wards contributing to the segregated housing patterns that have plagued Chicago for decades. I would support that.
The City of Chicago has entered into a federally monitored consent decree to overhaul the training and practices of the Chicago Police Department. Civil libertarians say it is long overdue, but others say it is unnecessary and could make it tougher for the police to do their job. What’s your view?
Linda Hudson: I don’t believe it would make their job harder and it is very necessary. My improvements for CPD would include:
- I support the reinstatement of the CAPs program with full funding.
- The hiring of a new Superintendent with new ideas and a better understanding of real community policing.
- Establishment of a Civilian Police Accountability Council comprised of elected civilians to ensure that all citizens are vested in improving public safety.
- Seek to have more Beat cops who walk or ride bikes to establish better community relationships.
- Demand a revamp of CPD training with an emphasis on diversity and building community relationships. Training can be vastly improved without building a multi-million dollar training facility.
Many violent offenders have mental health issues and many are victims. In 2012, The Community Mental Health Council, the largest clinic on the South Side closed its doors due to lack of funding. We have to reopen mental health facilities to help reduce violent crime.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Linda Hudson: The number of illegal guns cannot be reduced by Chicago alone. It would take state and federal action as well. But new policing strategies could be instituted to reduce the amount of violence committed with those guns.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Linda Hudson: I am not convinced that the use of charter schools in Chicago is in the best interest of our children. I support a moratorium on charter schools until a true evaluation of their effectiveness is done and to ensure that neighborhood schools are not being deprived of needed resources.
Should the Chicago Board of Education be solely appointed by the mayor, as is now the case? Or should Chicago switch to an elected school board or some hybrid?
Linda Hudson: I will continue to support an elected school board structured to attract a good mix of people both geographically and ethnically diverse with skills and experiences that will benefit our children.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Linda Hudson: Yes. It is time for those wards that have historically kept out affordable housing to now accept it.
Chicago, by ordinance, is an official “welcoming city.” This means the Chicago police are generally prohibited from detaining undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities. What’s your position on this policy? What more — or less — should be done with respect to undocumented immigrants who live in Chicago?
Linda Hudson: The policy is acceptable, but those who are arrested for violent crimes should be reported to federal authorities.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Linda Hudson: Yes. It is one way to help restore transparency and accountability to the city council.
Would you employ, or have you employed, staff in your office who have outside jobs or contracts with entities that do business with the city? If so, please explain.
Linda Hudson: No I would not. And no I have not.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Also running for 8th Ward alderman: