The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 7th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the city and their ward. Charles Kyle submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Charles Kyle?
He’s running for: 7th Ward alderman
His political/civic background:
- 2018 Field Organizer for U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly
- 2018 United Working Families political fellow
- Cook County Young Democrats (2015-2018)
- 2016 campaign volunteer 6th- District State Rep. Sonya Harper
- Former Board Member The Planning Coalition, (South Shore 501c3 focused on community development)
- Hosted 2015 7th ward Aldermanic Forum.
His occupation: Program Director for Youth Agency
Campaign website: charleskyleforalderman.com/
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Charles Kyle :
- Economic Development
- Housing Stabilization
- Improvement of Neighborhood Schools
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.
Charles Kyle : In 2017 as a member of the Rainbow Beach Park Advisory Council I hosted a back to school event for South Shore and South Chicago residents.
Sat on the steering committee for the 2017 South Shore 5k race which is the annual community race hosted in the South Shore community.
I sat on the Associate Board for Growing Home from 2015-2018. It’s an urban agriculture organization with two farm sites in the Englewood Community.
Hosted monthly community forums called “Exchange Ideas”. Community members were able to converse and engage with various elected and government officials in a setting that was neutral and organic. This allowed for more transparent dialogue.
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.
Charles Kyle: The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to reduce pension benefits of union workers and I stand by that. Those pensioners dedicated their lives to the state of Illinois and the City of Chicago. We in turn should make sure that they’re able to live comfortably in their retirement by continuing to provide them with the cost of living increases that they are due.
I do believe that pension benefits for new employees should be reduced. At the current rate, taxpayer contributions will continue to climb and the impact of the payments will start to plateau because of the skyrocketing cost of pension liabilities. We can deter this by reducing pension benefits for new employees, and having employees who make $100K+ pay more into the system.
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.
Charles Kyle: I’m in favor of Chicago casino, and legalized and taxed recreational marijuana.
Hammond Horseshoe netted $32 million dollars in the month of June. In total all 5 north-west Indiana casinos generated $76 million dollars in a month. With many Chicago residents going across the state boarder to gamble, the City of Chicago would be able to keep those dollars in house by opening a Chicago Casino.
In terms of support for recreational marijuana, as the decriminalization of marijuana continues we need to capitalize off the potential revenue that is available. The state of Colorado was able to generate $200 million in tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana. That is revenue that could be filling state and city coffers.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Charles Kyle: I oppose an increase to the municipal sales tax, as well as any increase to property 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?
Charles Kyle: I support TIF districts. I also believe that 50% of all TIF funds should go to blighted communities on the south and west side, to help spur development.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Charles Kyle: 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?
Charles Kyle: First I would like to state that I am in support of a civilian police accountability board. While being a Chicago Police officer is a daunting and grueling task, changes to how the Chicago Police Department is ran are long overdue. The Department of Justice cited decade’s long instances of excessive force against black and brown people, as well as rampant misconduct. In order to overcome this we need sweeping reforms that make all Chicago Police officers understand the gravity of what has been allowed to take place. The consent decree and federal oversight is needed to restore the trust back between the community and CPD.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Charles Kyle: As a black man who grew up on the south side of Chicago, I’ve always been puzzled by the notion that tougher gun laws will deter illegal firearm offenses. What I’ve saw firsthand through my own experiences and as someone who works with young men of color across this city, is that tougher gun laws will not stop the flow of illegal guns to Chicago streets nor violence in communities of color. To reduce the number of illegal guns on the street Chicago should invest in workforce development, trauma prevention services, and economic opportunities for south and west side communities.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Charles Kyle: Parents have a right to want to send their child to a good school. Some parents believe that charter schools allow them the ability to do so. The bigger issue for me is the cost incurred with the proliferation of charter school expansion, the close proximity of new charter schools to neighborhood schools and way in which students of color are treated within some charter networks.
Stephanie Farmer, a professor at Roosevelt released a report talking about these things. 71% of new charter schools opened between 2000 and 2012 were opened within 1.5 miles of the 49 schools that would be closed due to low enrollments in 2013. Of that, 62% of charter schools opened between 2000-2015 was in areas of declining enrollment. All of this has contributed to the low number of students we see enrolled in district ran neighborhood schools. Furthermore dollars have to be pumped into these new charter schools as Chicago already faces financial struggle.
To answer the question, they do have a role. The role is to offer parents a choice in how their children are educated. I think the role has been expanded to undercut the Chicago Teachers Union, and in that quest we have undercut students. Because of this I support a moratorium on charter school expansion.
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?
Charles Kyle: Fully elected school board is the right thing to do.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Charles Kyle: Affordable housing is not an issue in my community. Nevertheless, because of the mass displacement that is happening in Latino communities across the city I am in favor of some form of rent control.
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?
Charles Kyle: I support Chicago’s stance as a sanctuary city. I also believe those who are in Chicago undocumented that work every day, and contribute to the cultural and social fabric of this city, should be afforded some of the amenities that other residents receive.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Charles Kyle: Yes, because when elected and government officials know that someone has the ability to audit and review their work, the likelihood of misuse of power will diminish.
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.
Charles Kyle: I would not, I believe that is a direct conflict of interest and moves away from running a transparent office, which is what I intend to do.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Charles Kyle: Black communities have languished for the last 20 years with no real development. No.
I would like to state that I am disappointed that the topic of the mass exodus of African-Americans from the city of Chicago was not a question asked on the questionnaire. African-Americans are fleeing the city at an alarming rate and being that 32% of the city is African-American, I thought it would be something addressed.
Also running for 7th Ward alderman: