The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the 16th Ward aldermanic candidates a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the city and their ward. Eddie Johnson III submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Eddie Johnson III?
He’s running for: 16th Ward alderman His political/civic background: N/A His occupation: Educator His education: Englewood High School, Northeastern IL. University and Northern Baptist Seminary Twitter: @Eddie16thWard Facebook: facebook.com/eddie16thward/
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Eddie Johnson III:Top priorities for the 16th Ward:
- Straighten Public Safety
- Improved the Delivery of City Services
- Increase Jobs and Economic Development opportunities.
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.
Eddie Johnson III:
- Over the last 2 years I’ve work with residents and community organizations to avoid the closing of 4 Englewood high schools (Team Englewood, John Hope, Robeson and Harper); while also serving on the CPS Steering Committee for the new $75 million Englewood Stem High School I’ve work with community residents and community organizations advocating for an inclusive community engagement process.
- Recruit and hire more than 60 youths for summer job employment with various youth programs (After School Matters and One Summer Chicago)
- Coordinates a annual Summer Day Camp and Summer Lunch Program servicing 125 children.
- Coordinates Clean and Green Clean -Up Initiatives for Senior Citizens, local churches and block clubs.
- Closely work with over 20 community organizations and faith-based organizations to offer community resiliency events “Taste of Englewood” and “Englewood Harvest Fest” these community wide events provide community resource fairs and job opportunities for more than 1000 residents.
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.
Eddie Johnson III:The state Constitution shouldn’t be amended to allow a reduction in pension benefits for current city employees or retirees. Reducing pension benefits for new employees shouldn’t be a option. The city of Chicago should meet its pension obligations for retirees illustrated by the state Constitution.
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.
Eddie Johnson III:N/A
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Eddie Johnson III:I support/favor 1. (Tax Increment Finance Reform). Reapportions of TIF dollars surplus to meet current obligations and future necessary service expansions can be used a new source of revenue. 2. (Collecting Unpaid Fees and Fines Fairly) Promote compliance and remove the current system of revenue gauging; collecting unpaid fees and fines are sources of new revenue if used properly 3. (Video Gambling) Is an opportunity to bring in revenue from people who want to pay the revenue, not by forcing something on someone.
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?
Eddie Johnson III: Improved management of the TIF program can be done with new polices that enforces accountability in TIF spending; creation of TIF advisory councils throughout city wards will provide accountability and transparency. Reform of the TIF program must consist of redefining or creating a proof requesting system for new TIF districts status is needed to better serve qualifying TIF district status (blighted-communities); I will support a policy/legislation that prohibits diverting TIF funds for handpicked city projects and worked to ensure allocated TIF dollars to stay in projected/accredited TIF district communities.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Eddie Johnson III: N/A
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?
Eddie Johnson III: The overhaul training and practices of Chicago Police Department from the recent consent decree will not make it tougher for the police to do their job. The federally monitored consent decree fails to acknowledge the irregularities of Chicago Police Department “Community Policing” issues. The imposed consent decree don’t address the Chicago Police Department district by district cultural deficiencies as result will not make it tougher for the police to do their job. But instead should improve the performance of officers who complete the required training and education of improved practices.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Eddie Johnson III: Chicago should provide resources to organizations that educate residents and provide programs that promote “Non Gun Owners”. Chicago should also support policy areas where gun owners and non-gun owners are in more agreement.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Eddie Johnson III: The appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools is to provide non-traditional educational opportunities and first-rate education to all Chicago children. Charter school access shouldn’t disturb the educational environment of Chicago Public Schools system; by receiving resources that are allocate for Chicago Public neighborhood schools. The role of charter schools within Chicago Public Schools system shouldn’t include competing for students in low-enrollment attendance areas.
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?
Eddie Johnson III: Chicago Board of Election shouldn’t be solely appointed by the mayor and should switch to a elected school board.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Eddie Johnson III: There isn’t enough affordable housing in the 16th Ward. As alderman of the 16thWard I will support a Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan that will increase the supply of quality housing in 16th Ward. Some key components of affordable housing for the 16th Ward will include renovations of current abundant/vacant properties, offer residents affordable resources so they can buy, fix and purchase properties within the 16th ward.
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?
Eddie Johnson III: I support the policy of Chicago being “welcoming city” Chicago can do more for undocumented immigrants by providing educational resources and social service support that promotes immigrants to be self-sufficiency.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Eddie Johnson III: Yes the inspector general should have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees. These powers are within the inspector general authority that promotes transparency and honest oversight.
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.
Eddie Johnson III: No
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Eddie Johnson III:No
Also running for 16th Ward alderman: