Eight years ago, we endorsed a political newbie, Ameya Pawar, for alderman of the 47th Ward.
We wrote: “This young man’s smart and forward-looking ideas made him an easy pick for this North Side ward. . . . He also knows his way around a city budget and appreciates how Chicago’s patchwork of neighborhoods must rise or fall together. The Council would be lucky to have him.”
We were right.
Fast forward to 2019, and those words (except for the “young man” part) hold up as we endorse Pawar to be Chicago’s next city treasurer. He’s our pick over accountant Peter Gariepy and state Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin.
As alderman, Pawar led the effort to gradually increase Chicago’s minimum wage. It will go up this summer to $13 an hour. Pawar also helped craft a long overdue ordinance that requires private companies to give workers a modest number of days to call in sick and still be paid.
He will take his progressive ideas to the treasurer’s office. Pawar talks of creating a public bank to support affordable housing, offer low-interest student loans and possibly do business with the marijuana industry (something other banks may be restricted by federal law from doing) if recreational pot is legalized. Reasonable people might have questions about all these ideas, but they’re fresh and worth exploring.
We certainly support his overarching goal, which is to give working-class and middle-class Chicagoans more opportunities to prosper while securing strong returns for the city’s investments.
“I view the role of the treasurer as one of collaborator, partner and resource,” Pawar wrote in his Sun-Times candidate questionnaire. “The office of the treasurer is not a platform for political advancement or legislative aspirations; it is a position of extraordinary responsibility and opportunity to shape the financial future of all Chicagoans.”
The city treasurer has a spot on the boards of all the city pension funds. Pawar promises to use his voice on those boards “to examine the impact our investments have on our workers, communities, environment and the nation.”
Based on his track record, we think he means it.
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