The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 5th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. William Calloway submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is William Calloway?
He’s running for: 5th Ward alderman
His political/civic background: I have dedicated and devoted the past several years of my life to ensuring and making our city and local communities are better. I am a leader if a social justice movement in Chicago that was responsible for the exodus of ousting former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, the termination of Forrest Supt. Garry McCarthy, and arguably the force of why Mayor Emmanuel is not seeking a 3rd term. This is my 2nd political run for office. Earlier this year I threw my hat in the ring for State Representative. I’ve worked on a various of campaigns throughout the years. Some were successful some weren’t. But I feel that I was always on the right sight side if every fight.
His occupation: Community Organizer
His education: Some college course work completed
Campaign website: Callowayfor5.com
Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/Callowayfor5/
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
William Calloway: Drastically improved Public Safety Services in our ward, so that all residents from all walks of life feel safe. While bridging relationships between the community and law enforcement.
The development of Grocery stores, to eliminate food deserts to create access for afforadabke fresh fruits, vegetables, and produce.
Safe Level 1 Performing Neighborhood Public Schools: 7/9 of the CPS schools in the Ward are performing under level 1. As alderman I promise to convene meeting with each LSC Chairs to discuss and come up with innovative ways that guarantee all students have an excellent opportunity to quality education and to bring each school to level 1 performance.
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.
William Calloway: In the last two years I have faught diligently for city transparency and police reform. My fight led to the release of the Laquan McDonald video which led to sweeping changes around the Chicago Police Department. I served my city by being a voice against public corruption and a proponent for better city governmental oversight. I’ve coordinated multiple peace treaties between the rivialing gangster disciple factions in my neighborhood. I’ve also organized/spear headed peaceful demonstrations during the murder trial of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke was ultimately convicted of 2nd degree and 16 counts of aggravated battery.
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.
William Calloway: I do not believe the State’s Constitution should be amended to allow reduction in pension benefits for current city employees or retirees. I don’t believe people should be pentalized for the financial mishandling of others. However I am opened to consider reducing pension benefits for new employees as meanful way until we navigate our way out this crisis.
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.
William Calloway: Personally, I am not for a casino. As a individual who grew up with a family member who suffered from a gambling addiction I would want to see measures and other regulations instituted to address people who have or may become addicted. Also I do not believe the city of Chicago is culturally ready for Casino, and it will lead to more spike in violent crimes.
I do support the taxation of legal recreational use if marijuana. I do believe it will be a great revenue generator. But with the legalization of recreational marijuana, the discussion of how we expungement exonerate the marijuana convictions of thousands of people should be widely addressed. Possibly setting aside a percentage of the revenue generated to help with the services from those formerly convicted for marijuana possession to clear their record or help them find employment.)
I am not in favor of a Lasalle Street tax. We risk losing business.
I am opened to entertain a commuter tax if there was a way to ensure surrounding suburbs did not counter with a commuter tax of their own for city residents who travel to the suburbs for work.
I am not in a favor of any more municipal taxes. Not only does Chicago have some of the highest tax percentage in the nation, there is very little transparency to say where the revenue generated goes. For instance, last year the city passed a 7 cent bag tax but their is not any transparency on the municipal level to tell the community how much gross tax was raised and where those funds will ultimately go.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
William Calloway: As alderman I will introduce a ordinance that will take 3-10% salary decrease from certain city departments and heads of the those departments. Starting with City Council (alderman/ staff) which I think should take a 10% pay cut.
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?
William Calloway: There needs to be tougher guidelines for TIF money. For years neighborhoods that are not considered or should be considered blighted were allowed to tap into TIF funding. Most of them were in aldermanic wards who had strong allegiance to the mayor. This is wrong and that system must and has to change. I will work with State legislators to amend legislation that will course correct the way tifs should be used. There is reportedly $1.6 billion in tif revenue that exists but the impoverish communities that deserves it are being neglected while instead $55M of tifs are being diverted to projects like the Navy Pier renovations. This is an egregious injustice that has to stop.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
William Calloway: It is vital that alderman maintain the trust of the community and constituency that they are representing. To me, to stay true to that requires integrity, honesty, transparency, and responsiveness. All traits I’ve displayed through out the community and promise to uphold once I’m elected. I will establish different ward committees for ward residents to chair and lead to make the the development of the ward that much more inclusive.
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?
William Calloway: One of the communal hats I wear is a police reformist, I completely support a federally monitored consent decree to over haul the training and practices of the Chicago Police Department.
Under President Obama, the Delartment of Justice conducted a extensive investigation concluding that CPD has displayed willful patterns and practices of constitutional violation, majority against African Americans.
To ensure we can repair or start a fresh relationship after a Jon Burge era, post Laquan McDonald, it’s imperative that we adhere to the recommendations of the DOJ findings and for the city to have true reform that can be monitored independently on a federally level.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
William Calloway: The first thing I want to note: you can NOT legislate murder, racism, or violence out of someone’s heart. Although I do agree policy and legislation will help prevent or stop repeat offenders it will not get at the root of the issue creating gun violence. I believe more resources should be put in the grassroots organizations to mentor, provide life coaching, ptsd counseling, conflict resolution training, ect that will ultimately keep people from utilizing illiegal guns.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
William Calloway: I believe in traditional public schools and believe there should be a moratorium on Charter schools.
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?
William Calloway : I am a proponent for an elected schools board. I will work diligentky to remove the sole appointed power the mayor currently has selecting the Board.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
William Calloway: There can be more affordable housing in our ward. But there are huge concerns of displacement in the near future because of up coming developments. So that affordable housing will start to diminish.
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?
William Calloway: I support “Welcoming City” or “Sanctuary City.” I promise to be a voice for those undocumented and unfairly treated. Will advocate for better comprehensive immigration reform policy by talking and meeting with my congresswoman.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
William Calloway: Yes the city inspector general should have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees to ensure that our city government is operations with high level of integrity.
I would also support the reinstituting the City Council Inspector General office; formerly ran by Faisal Khan.
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.
William Calloway: I would not employ staff that in any way, shape, or form has financial ties to those who do business with the city.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
William Calloway: None