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Pawar says he’d ‘fight income inequality,’ launch public bank as city treasurer

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) announces his candidacy for Chicago city treasurer during a press conference outside the Thompson Center, Monday morning, Oct. 29, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) announces his candidacy for Chicago city treasurer during a press conference outside the Thompson Center, Monday morning, Oct. 29, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) has made it official: he’s running for city treasurer.

Pawar, on Monday, said he plans to use the office to fight against income inequality.

His prescriptions include a “public bank” –– a city-owned financial institution that would cut private banks out of the lucrative business of handling the city’s money.

Pawar also called for targeted investments like affordable housing and childcare centers.

At his announcement outside the Thompson Center, Pawar related his goals for the office to the story of his father, who immigrated to the United States from India, and then moved from job to job in a changing economy.

“In just the 40 years that he’s lived here, stagnant wages, shrinking benefits, union-busting, stepping on the necks of American workers day-in, day-out, and constant uncertainty has chipped away at the American dream,” Pawar said.

Peter Gariepy, a CPA who is considering his own run for city treasurer, in an interview last week said that some of Pawar’s plans, including the public bank, step beyond the scope of the office.

“Its not to say that these things are not possible, but when we have a growing pension crisis that threatens the livelihoods of our municipal employees, our laborers, our police and our firefighters, I don’t think its prudent at this time. I think we should look at those initiatives, but those have to be handled at a far higher office,” Gariepy said.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) announces his candidacy for Chicago city treasurer during a press conference outside the Thompson Center, Monday morning, Oct. 29, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Pawar’s response: this isn’t the first time he’s been told to stay in his lane.

“When I ran for alderman, people were also telling me, ‘the job is not be a legislator, the job is just to focus on local services, to pick up the trash.’ We did that, we continue to do that, but we also focused on passing legislation, and driving policy from City Council,” he said.

Pawar added that the treasurer could also advance his ideas as a public advocate.

Pawar said his work as treasurer will build on his work passing progressive legislation in City Council, including a minimum wage increase and mandatory sick leave. Pawar expects a bill he introduced creating a city Office of Labor Standards to enforce the city’s labor laws to pass this week.

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At Monday morning’s news conference Pawar showed off a slate of politicians lining up behind his campaign: Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), Ald. David Moore (17th), state Rep. Theresa Mah (D-Chicago), Sen.-elect Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Cmsr. Josina Morita.

This is the third office Pawar has publicly explored as his self-imposed two-term term limit as the mayor’s alderman approaches: he also ran a progressive campaign for governor and mulled a run for mayor.

At least two other candidates are publicly considering a run: Gariepy, who challenged Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas in a democratic primary in 2018, and Melissa Conyears-Ervin, who represents a West Side district in the Illinois House.