15th Ward candidate for alderman: Otis Davis Jr.
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The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 15th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the city and their ward. Otis Davis Jr. submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Otis Davis Jr.?
He’s running for: 15th Ward alderman
His political/civic background: Elected Official to serve on the LSC in the City of Chicago
His occupation: Community Organizer and Minister
- MA in Urban Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity College.
- BA in Business Administration from Chicago State University
Campaign website: otisdavisforchicago.com
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Otis Davis Jr:
- Community and Economic Development
- Community Safety
- Youth Job Development Training
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.
Otis Davis Jr: In the last two years I’ve been a community representative at Daley Elementary School, I serve as a liaison between the school and community. I am also a member of the Chicago Police 9th District Faith based violence prevention committee. As the CEO and Director of the “New City Wholistic Development Corporation” I help provide education for first time homeowners, immigration status counseling, financial literacy, and adult education through GED courses and ESL courses.
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.
Otis Davis Jr: For those whom have already served their years and are a part of the system they should receive their benefits, we should pay what we’ve promised. For those whom are new employees I agree that pension benefits should be reduced by paying more into their benefits provided.
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.
Otis Davis Jr: I agree with two of these taxes, commuter tax and a real estate transfer tax increase of transaction over a million dollars.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Otis Davis Jr: I call for a moratorium on property tax increase.
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?
Otis Davis Jr: I Favor Tiff utilizing set aside dollars to invest in community development, business development and school improvement in hard hit blighted areas.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Otis Davis Jr: I will empower inspector general with subpoena power and oversight of all aldermanic activities
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?
Otis Davis Jr: I believe the federal monitored decree should be implemented to overhaul the training and practices of Chicago Police Department.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Otis Davis Jr: I believe a buy back program should be the first step. I also believe gun makers should be required by federal law to place a tracking device on each gun brought.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Otis Davis Jr: There should be a community based oversight committee established to determine the needs of the community and the performance of the Chicago Public Schools to discover what would better serve the community, a charter school or investing more dollars in the Chicago Public School.
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?
Otis Davis Jr: We should follow an elected school board system.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Otis Davis Jr: I believe within the 15th ward we need to invest in redeveloping and renovating boarded up an deserted homes to provide affordable and quality housing. We need to redirect city resources to upgrade the quality of housing stock.
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?
Otis Davis Jr: I believe that undocumented immigrants should be provided with a pathway to citizenship through implementations of the Dreamers Act.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Otis Davis Jr: Yes. I believe the inspector general should have the power to audit and review city council programs in order to bring in automatic powers and eliminate corruption and establish transparency in city government.
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.
Otis Davis Jr: No. I believe this is a conflict of interest.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Otis Davis Jr: Tim Evans was a true public servant who strive to empower the people and community with true fairness, equity, and transparency to city government. If I had to name any alderman whom serves as a role model it would be him.