The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the 17th Ward aldermanic candidates a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the city and their ward. Raynetta Greenleaf submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Raynetta Greenleaf?
She’s running for: 17th Ward alderman Her political/civic background: My political experience is of a non-traditional manner. I’ve fought for ethical and social injustice within the healthcare industry and I hope to enhance my political experience within my community. Her occupation: Patient Care Facilitator at Rush University Medical Center Her education: My elementary and high school education at John W. Cook elementary & Simeon Vocational H.S. was provided within the same Ward in which I seek to serve. I received my B.A. & M.A in Healthcare Administration at Robert Morris University. Campaign website: votegreenleaf.org Twitter: @votegreenleaf Facebook: votegreenleaf and GreenleafMotivationInc
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Raynetta Greenleaf: My top three priorities for the 17th ward is to initiate job reform, improve community relations between public safety services and community residents, and to ensure our residents have adequate healthcare options available.
I believe if we reintroduce trade and union jobs into the community its residences will have more job opportunities. Vocational skilled workers are at an all high demand as Baby Boomers retires. According to an Associated General Contractors of America survey, it is estimated that manufacturers could stand to lose over $100 million dollars with the loss of labor-skilled workers, and there will be over 31million positions vacant by 2020. It will be irresponsible to not work to bring trade labor jobs to a community of labor workers.
The additional jobs will also work as a stimulant to decrease the local crime rate. It is a proven fact that given the opportunity to succeed with employment people often turn away from crime. With the increase in job opportunities and rebuilding the relationship between the residents and Local Law Enforcement Authorities the 17th ward can see a neighborhood revitalization.
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.
Raynetta Greenleaf: I’m the founder of Greenleaf Motivation Inc. For the last two years we have promoted a Stop the Violence in Our Community initiative. Greenleaf Motivation Inc has hosted events throughout the years in the17th ward geared towards helping the community fight the violence and honor families who have lost their loved ones to violence.
We help families in the ward with back to school drives. We’ve provided kids in the ward with uniforms, book bags and school supplies. The holiday season can be trying on families; therefore, we provide a Turkey Give Away for the Thanksgiving holiday along with providing elementary school children at schools such as John w. Cook, Westcott & Oglesby Elementary with a special Christmas. We are fortunate to provide over a100 kids with Christmas gifts, and 70 kids who resides in a shelter with coats. Greenleaf Motivation Inc. has been very active in the community, and I hope to do even more once I’m elected as Adelman.
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.
Raynetta Greenleaf: Pension benefits are earned through hard work and dedication. Each employee and retiree deserve benefits for years fulfilled and time put in on working premises. Personally, I believe it’s not fair to allow the constitution to be amended to allow a reduction in pension, the city’s pension funds have roughly 50 percent of the funding necessary to support the current pension system. No support currently will be given by me to reduce the pension benefits of current city employees. To ensure that the city can meet its pension obligations, I will support coming up with a constitutional amendment to resolve Chicago’s unfunded pension liability.
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.
Raynetta Greenleaf: Building a casino on the far southeast side of 91st east of Torrence In Chicago will be an awesome move. This is a open area for new development. This major entertainment initiative can attract gamers who regularly trek to Indiana casinos. A plan to help strategically locate a casino that would complement reopening of the Regal Theater, Obama Library, as well as other projects which might be developed along the corridor facilitated by Lake Shore Drive extension.
I’m 100% for legalized and recreational marijuana, Why? We haven’t made cigarettes illegal and we can attribute to this being one of biggest cause to health problems, and associated illnesses with death. Legalizing marijuana, will help with tax revenue, money earmark for our public schools, healthier food and nutrition within our public-school systems, and possibly be what we need to help with a balancing budget. Chicago could use its legislative strength to include the Chicago Casino in the Marijuana bill and ensure that the tax revenue helps to fund Education.
As an Alderman whose constituency would be directly impacted by such a casino, I would make certain the development includes a favorable Community Benefits Agreement. Our, Government officials have made it perfectly clear that they will not pass a LaSalle Street Tax, so I will not rely upon. The Commuter tax would be met with opposition and possibly counter taxes imposed upon Chicagoans who work in the suburbs. I do not now nor in the future plan on supporting a regressive sales tax increase. Although I do not favor a Property tax increase, the previously considered real estate transfer tax on properties that sell for a million dollar or more might be plausible. I would consider Video Gambling if the majority support it by referendum.
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?
Raynetta Greenleaf: Tax-increment financing, if used properly, can stimulate the development of housing and the growth of business in depressed areas. I favor the vacant lot properties Tax-Increment. In the 17th ward we have issues of vacant lots and abandon buildings that need new development. We need to rebuild our community and add public shelters for our veterans whom are homeless. The term homeless veteran is an oxymoron that needs to be eliminated from existence. No one who fought for our freedoms should have to worry about where they will lay their heads at night.
I also favor a Tax- increment for new healthcare facilities in the 17th ward, these are community investments that will help with community revenue funding. The most important change I would like to see made to the TIF program would be to disallow the porting of TIF funds to neighboring districts. TIF funds should be used in the district of their origination.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Raynetta Greenleaf: Although it is imperative that Aldermen stay connect to the community and involved in all aspects of the development of their ward, it is also very important that there be greater transparency in Aldermanic dealings with developers and others who aspire to do business within the ward. An Alderman should not be allowed to unduly deny any legitimate entity the opportunity to do pursue opportunity or contribute to the fabric of the ward.
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?
Raynetta Greenleaf: I strongly feel that training and practices on an annual basis would be a great way to help our Chicago Police Department stay mindful of how to address any situations on and off duty.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Raynetta Greenleaf: We must put a stop the flow of illegal guns into the city. Therefore, we should coordinate preventive efforts with neighboring suburbs and Illinois State Police. We must impose stiffer penalties for anyone in possession of a firearm that was used in the commission of a crime.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Raynetta Greenleaf: With the overcrowding of our public schools Charter schools can be a benefit for our communities. It provides educational alternatives for the community but should not be used by the system to replace traditional open enrollment Public 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?
Raynetta Greenleaf: The community should have a voice on who is appointed by the Mayor to sit on Chicago Board of elections.
Is there enough housing in your ward? Please explain.
Raynetta Greenleaf: We need more affordable job opportunities to help balance housing voucher supplements. Affordable housing isn’t being produced if the community isn’t able to afford to buy homes of their own.
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?
Raynetta Greenleaf: As Alderman it will be responsibility to make sure we have a safe community with low crime areas. Due to the fact Chicago is a “Welcoming City” I stand by the policy. Local law enforcement should not detain undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities. Detaining undocumented immigrants If there is no reason for the police force to be use then I don’t see an issue to detain undocumented immigrants.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Raynetta Greenleaf: The city’s Inspector General should have audit and review authority over City Council activities. That should include subpoena power. This would ensure greater accountability and integrity.
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.
Raynetta Greenleaf: I will not and have not employed 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.
Raynetta Greenleaf: No, I’m currently looking to help start a new trend with leadership for our community. I believe we need more nonpolitical officials. Officials from the community who are for the community and who want to become community leaders who are not motivated by the politics but by doing actual good in the community.