The two finalists in the race for city treasurer, Ald. Ameya Pawar and state Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin, share the same values. Both, as elected officials, want to help the middle class and those in poverty climb the economic ladder.
But Pawar has a terrific record of achievement. He has shown he can get important stuff done. That’s why we endorsed him with enthusiasm before the Feb. 26 election — and why we want to endorse him again today.
Long before a proposed $15 hourly minimum wage was passed in Illinois, Pawar successfully championed raising the minimum wage in Chicago. In 2014, he and other progressives in the City Council pushed through an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour over five years. That $13 will be reached this summer.
Pawar also was a force behind an ordinance that requires businesses in the city, such as coffee bars, to grant even part-time workers a modest number of paid sick days. In the new gig economy, where an increasing number of people work two or three part-time jobs to make ends meet, the ordinance is a model of good sense and compassion.
When hourly workers at O’Hare Airport complained that some of their wages were being stolen by employers, Pawar spoke up for them in the City Council and pushed for an ordinance that got almost 8,000 workers a raise and secured their right to unionize.
Now, Pawar wants the city to help more residents collect the Earned Income Tax Credit, a move that would put more money in people’s pockets and bolster Chicago’s economy. He also wants the city to partner with charitable foundations to launch a pilot project to provide 1,000 Chicagoans with an income of $1,000 a month for 18 months to measure how it would improve their quality of life.
As city treasurer, Pawar says, he would work to secure strong returns for the city’s investments while finding opportunities for working-class and middle-class Chicagoans to raise their standard of living. He supports 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.
His advocacy on behalf of ordinary working people is consistent and principled.
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