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 issues facing the city and their ward. Jedidiah Brown submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Jedidiah Brown?
He’s running for: 7th Ward alderman
His political/civic background: local, state, and federal consultant/Advocate – Second time candidate for Alderman in Chicago
His occupation: Justice founding President
His education: Some College
Campaign website: JedidiahBrown.com (Launching soon)
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Jedidiah Brown: Quality of life improvement, Coordinated Economic development, Community Driven Public Safety
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.
Jedidiah Brown: Over the last two years I’ve been a frontline first responder advocate, Addressing a wide range of issues from police accountability to Government responsiveness. I’ve worked directly with Chicago residents dealing with trauma and an array of issues. I’ve coordinated the organizing of countless citizens for direct action, lead benevolent projects to address quality of life issues, and created the “Justice Organization” to give a voice and solutions against all forms of injustices affecting our cities holistic health.
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.
Jedidiah Brown: We must change our financial course! It would be morally wrong to dishonor our commitment to the pensions of those who’ve served our work force. It would also be wrong to force those same residents to have to compete for jobs with the next generation, in order for them to subsidize missing income. I do fully comprehend the gravity of the pension problem we face but I believe that responsible fiscal management, adding progressive revenue policies, closing corporate loopholes, reducing government wasteful spending, pursuing every bad privatized/bank deal, reducing police misconduct settlements, and rolling up our sleeves to spend adequate time solving this issue, we can add smart investments while growing both our home owners and business districts over time to generate the needed revenue for the obligations we have.
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.
Jedidiah Brown: I am in favor of standing still on regressive taxing structures to require the wealthy to pay a fair share. We must take the city hands out of the pockets of the citizens already struggling to have a decent quality of life. I personally support the (With tailored public safety planning) and legalized recreation marijuana which shouldn’t have been criminalized in the initial perspective. I am not a fan of the commuter tax, municipal sales tax, nor a real estate transfer tax because taxing is a political go to for those not willing to spend real time in solving financial problems, especially created from wasteful spending and corruption. The citizens of the city nor our neighbors deserve to continuously see a reduction in finances because our government won’t end complicit dysfunction. However I personally consider Video Gambling, the LaSalle Street tax, and intentional investments as viable sources that could create billions of dollars in revenue in just a year from with a more progressive approach. I however would fully educate the constituents on all economic realities and cast votes according to the will of the 7th ward residents.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Jedidiah Brown: I am fully supportive of progressive taxation and investment into industries of our direct future
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?
Jedidiah Brown: Improved transparency and accountability: including expanded public forum and expanded City Council review and oversight. I support a moratorium on new Tifs and greater transparency of porting.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Jedidiah Brown: introduce budget cuts to expand and fully fund the oversight powers of the inspector general. I also will utilize a reinvigorated PB process with menu resources from an independently elected precinct captain program in ward. Create a new Caucus intending to keep the city council from dishonoring the oath of service to constituents
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?
Jedidiah Brown: I am of the persuasion that officers who truly take the privilege of being sworn as Chicago’s finest to serve will do that with honor regardless of a consent decree or otherwise. I have consulted numerous times with the Justice Department advocating for this deal towards reform and oversight. I continue to engage and advocate for the proper monitor, so I fully support the legally binding step in accountability. I believe that with proper wrap around services and reimagined procedures around merit we can create America’s greatest police force.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Jedidiah Brown: TELL THE TRUTH!
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Jedidiah Brown: I believe in fully funded public education as a moratorium should be placed on opening any other charters. Charters should administer after pubic school programs…
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?
Jedidiah Brown: I fully support and elected school board…
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Jedidiah Brown: Our ward has sufficient resource for affordable housing and should now provide greater resource and opportunity towards ownership and improved access to greater life quality
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?
Jedidiah Brown: I support Chicago being a Sanctuary however that places a greater investment in providing for legal citizens living oppressed with citizenship.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Jedidiah Brown: I fully believe the inspector generation should have audit and review capacity in city council programs, operations, and committees with full funding to do so. I also believe the inspector general should be allowed to independently initiate investigation by which I’m willing to consider a budget cut to also fully fund. It will ensure integrity, transparency, end corruption, and remove abuse of authority towards the betterment of our city.
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.
Jedidiah Brown: I see this as a conflict of interest and wouldn’t consider hiring an employee with an outside job with entities doing business with city.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Jedidiah Brown: We haven’t had a leader in City Government since Harold Washington, I also tremendously appreciate the contributions of newly elected commissioner Brandon Johnson.
Also running for 7th Ward alderman: