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18th Ward candidate for alderman: Derrick G. Curtis

18th Ward alderman candidate Derrick Curtis 2019 mayoral election

18th Ward aldermanic candidate and incumbent Derrick Curtis. | Provided photo

The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 18th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the city and their ward. Derrick G. Curtis submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):

Who is Derrick G. Curtis?

He’s running for: 18th Ward alderman

His political/civic background: Democratic Committeeman, over 25yrs as Precinct Capt/Coordinator

His occupation: Alderman

His education: Background in Internal Investigations, Certified courses with Institute of Police Technology and Management

Twitter: @Dgc018Derrick

Facebook: @Dgc018Derrick/

Top priorities

What are the top three priorities for your ward?

Derrick G. Curtis:

  • Public Safety
  • Economic Development
  • City Services

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.

Derrick G. Curtis:

  • Implementation of the paid sick leave ordinance
  • Police Reform
  • Secured Advance Manufacturing Center
  • Taco Bell
  • Chick-fil-A
  • 1st African American Fire Brigade.
  • Mentoring inner-city youth, help raise funds to send youths to EMT certified training.
  • Town Hall meetings, Business Symposiums, Foreclosure seminars, Veterans Appreciation event, Tax appeal workshops, Ham & Turkey giveaways.

Pensions

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. 

Derrick G. Curtis: We need to honor our commitment to working people and make our pension payments. This can’t be fully one sided – we need a balance that takes into account our commitments to both City workers and retirees as well as our commitments to the taxpayers. I took the hard votes to shore up our pension funds. We should explore adding another tier for new hew hires that have the option for 401k style retirement plans. I want to work with organized labor to ensure that their input is heard in any discussions about pension reform

Revenue

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.

Derrick G. Curtis:

  • A Chicago Casino
  • Video gambling
  • Legalized and taxed marijuana
  • Real estate transfer tax
  • We should explore these options before raising property or sales taxes

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose? 

Derrick G. Curtis: No response


SUN-TIMES 2019 CHICAGO VOTING GUIDE


TIFs

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? 

Derrick G. Curtis:

  • TIF funding has been a key part of updating our infrastructure and stimulating economic
  • We need to amend the TIF ordinance to modernize it and address today’s concerns that weren’t prevalent when the ordinance was first passed.
  • We need to hold those who receive TIF dollars accountable for the promises made. If a company commits to creating certain amount of jobs in return for incentives, we need to make sure those jobs were actually created

Aldermanic power

What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?

Derrick G. Curtis: 

  • Aldermen are elected to be advocates for their communities and I believe aldermen should continue to use the tools at their disposal to affect change in their community
  • As an alderman, it’s our duty to ensure we are communicating effectively with our constituents about decisions that impact the city and ward.
  • The council as a whole might need input on ward specific projects on a case by case basis as they can have a citywide impact.
  • Conversely, certain ward projects may require more input from constituents to discuss possible citywide impact.
  • We need to consider each of these on a case-by-case basis

Police reform

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? 

Derrick G. Curtis:

  • I support the consent decree.
  • The consent decree was negotiated with the Attorney General, CPD, and the City of Chicago at the table
  • The increased accountability reflects the values of our City while providing police with more training and more resources.
  • Reform and public safety go hand-in-hand
  • The consent decree will help ensure Chicago police officers have the training, resources and support they need to do their difficult jobs and help rebuild trust, in the communities they serve.

Guns

What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns? 

Derrick G. Curtis: 

  • We need to continue to stop the demand for guns by continuing to invest in underserved communities through economic development, create jobs, mentorship and job skills training.
  • We should explore a lawsuit against the state of Indiana to hold gun dealers in the state responsible for failing to adhere to basic standards of accountability.
  • We need to work with Springfield to explore all options to reducing gun violence and the flow of illegal guns into our communities.

Schools

What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system? 

Derrick G. Curtis: 

  • Charters can play a key role in education but each proposal needs to be carefully examined and weigh the community need, academic performance of other schools within the charter network, and the quality of life of students enrolled
  • Charter schools should be held to the same standards of performance as other CPS schools.

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? 

Derrick G. Curtis: I support the current school board and Dr. Jackson but I am open to discussing what a hybrid approach would look like.

Affordable housing

Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain. 

Derrick G. Curtis: We need to continue to grow our affordable housing stock through expansion of Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund and the expansion of the Preservation of Existing Affordable Rental (PEAR) program, both of which purchase and preserve affordable housing stock in Chicago.

Derrick G. Curtis: Currently working with a Buyer/investor to build 129 single family affordable homes on a site what use to be Marquette Village.

Immigration

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? 

Derrick G. Curtis:

  •  I support Chicago’s status as a “welcoming city”
  • We need to continue to offer resources for those who locate here including access to job opportunities, housing, and legal assistance

Ethics

Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not? 

Derrick G. Curtis: The Inspector General has proven to be a powerful resource for the City Council and should have the power to investigate when appropriate but these cases should be considered on an individual basis.

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. 

Derrick G. Curtis: I hired a part-timer that use to work for a City Delegate Agency Service provider with experience in permits and forming committees.

Role model

Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain. 

Derrick G. Curtis: The person that I admire and try to model myself after is past Alderman Thomas Murphy. His motto and legacy has always been “Bringing people together”. He always taught us to never separate communities, Six different diverse communities with one and the same message


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