The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 46th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Angela Clay submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Angela Clay?
She’s running for: 46th Ward alderman Her political/ civic background: Former President of Voice of The People in Uptown Her occupation: Human Resource Analyst Her education: Bachelors of Science from DePaul University in Public Policy Campaign website: ClayFor46.com Facebook: facebook.com/ClayFor46/
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Angela Clay: Preserving & expanding affordable housing, strengthening our public schools & creating employment opportunities for our youth, disabled & veterans.
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.
Angela Clay: In the last two years I recently stepped down as the youngest President of Voice of the People in Uptown, a 50 year old housing non for profit. As President I fought hard and extended contracts on affordable housing units for another twenty years & also secured funding to purchase buildings in Uptown that preserve affordability in our community. I have also been active in my previous high schools success, Uplift Community High School. Uplift recently partnered with Kuumba Lynx to become a Chicago Sustainable Community School, offering a community collective to one of the only social justice high schools in the city.
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.
Angela Clay: I believe that the language needs to be changed if Chicago plans on ever trying to get out of debt. Pensions are currently taking a fourth of the State’s budget which obviously takes away from other much needed vital services. I believe that pension reform needs to happen to protect the City & State budget as well as offer new employees options that will give them more control over their retirement.
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.
Angela Clay: I support the legalization & taxation of recreational marijuana and believe that it will generate much needed revenue for the City of Chicago. Instead of criminalizing marijuana we should be preparing communities for the employment opportunities this will sure to bring.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Angela Clay: I also favor a LaSalle Street Tax & a Chicago Casino Tax
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?
Clay: I believe that we first must start with changing the definitions in the TIF program such as ”blighted’. Blighted can mean a number of things around the city but having a “blighted” downtown TIF zone is nearly impossible yet they are zoned to receive TIF funds. Not having a clear definition takes away from real communities in despair and becomes a tool used by the Mayor. I also believe that zones do not need to be a TIF zone for 23 years as this inadvertently takes away from the growing property taxes that a successful TIF zone would create.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Angela Clay: I will do everything in my power to rein in aldermanic prerogative. I believe my Ward like others in the city have been targeted for gentrification efforts and as Alderman I will use my prerogative to ensure that unfair zoning isn’t extended and public funds are actually being used for the greater good of the community.
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?
Angela Clay: I believe that having a third party involved is wonderful and necessary to ensure the residents are safe from police misconduct. CPD needs critical crisis prevention training, mental health training and also need to connect deeper with the communities they serve. Police officers who abuse their job title need to be held to the highest extent of the law & I believe that this consent decree will strengthen that.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Angela Clay: We first need to enforce a universal background check on all potential gun owners, limit the number of guns any one person can purchase in a span of time, and also enforce tougher laws on repeat gun dealers who’s illegal gun was used in any criminal act.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Angela Clay: I believe that charter schools should offer students a chance at a great education but should not be the only alternative to school choice. I believe that by strengthening CPS, charters will have a lot more competition and their success should also be held to a high standard. If charter schools are not succeeding they should also be closed like the 50 Chicago Public Schools in 2013.
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?
Angela Clay: We are long overdue for an elected school board and hopefully under this new administration we will finally achieve this. Accountability is crucial to making sure our children have the best education possible and with an elected school board, communities will have direct impact on the changes that will affect their family.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Angela Clay: No! Over the last ten years we’ve seen over 2,000 affordable units vanish and become replaced with luxury condominiums. The median income for our Ward is only $45,644 as of 2016, but all of the development currently happening requires an average household income of $150,000. Rents have also increased drastically over the last five years as longtime residents are forced to flee due to being price out.
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?
Angela Clay: I believe that Chicago is a welcoming city and should remain that way. Chicago is a hub for immigrants looking to save themselves and their families lives and we would be doing a huge injustice by detaining them. I believe that more resources need to be dedicated to actual programs for immigrants such as housing, education & employment without the risk of deportation. I believe that CPD needs to actively be trained on what to do when they encounter an undocumented immigrant as well as educate communities of color on how they are protected by living in the City of Chicago. Assistance programs that help immigrants through the naturalization process is desperately needed and I believe the city of Chicago is well within reach to make that happen.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Angela Clay: Yes! Having a nonpartisan third party that actively audits the practices and programs adds an extra layer of protection for all tax payers.
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.
Angela Clay: I would not nor have I employed staff that have outside contracts with the city as I believe it is a conflict on interest.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Angela Clay: A role model that I look up to is the former 46 Ward alderman Helen Shiller. Helen was the alderman of our ward for over two decades and dedicated her position of power to the poor, working class & immigrant families within our community. She actively engaged the community in key decisions, she actively worked with police to patrol our community as well as fought to include affordable housing in any proposed new development. She exudes what I believe leadership should be: educated, concerned, resourceful & attentive.