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20th Ward candidate for alderman: Jennifer Maddox

20th Ward aldermanic candidate Jennifer Maddox 2019 election

20th Ward aldermanic candidate Jennifer Maddox. | Provided photo

The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 20th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Jennifer Maddox submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):

Who is Jennifer Maddox?

She’s running for: 20th Ward alderman

Her political/civic background: Democratic

Her occupation: Police Officer

Her education: Current Doctoral Student

Campaign website: electjennifermaddox.com

Twitter: @jen4ward20

Facebook: @jen4ward20

Top priorities

What are the top three priorities for your ward?

Jennifer Maddox: Safety, Education, Economic Development

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. 

Jennifer Maddox: I have been recognized twice on a national platform for Future Ties which is an organization that I founded in 2009. We received 501 c 3 status in 2011. Future Ties is an after school program that operates Mon-Fri from 3-7 pm and some weekend trips, events, activities as planned. We also operate a summer camp for teens ages 16-18 that focuses on preparing the youth for life challenges. The teens help co-create the camp by giving us ideas on what they feel will best service them to success. Future Ties also operate a barber program through After School Matters that train and teach males ages 14-18 a life long skill and concepts around entrepreneurship. Last, we hire and we train the parents with skills that can support them as well as the youth they service in the community they live around. Most of our parents reside in the community and they are support to go back to school and get an education that will allow them to compete for better jobs to take care and support their families. Future Ties also present presentations to and inform residents about their 5th amendment right, “What to do if you are stopped or detained by the police”.

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.

Jennifer Maddox: I would not be in favor of reducing pension benefits for current or retirees. I don’t believe pensions for current or retirees should be reduced. There is plenty of room for discussion around pension contribution for new employees. Discussion around renegotiation or reducing the amount of pension benefits already promised but open to discussion increasing pension liability for new employees in an effort to ease the burden on tax payers.

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.

Jennifer Maddox: Of all the sources listed, I would be most interested in two which would be the casino and marijuana tax discussion. The remaining areas have been repeatedly taxed and has already become a burdensome for Chicago tax payers.

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

Jennifer Maddox: I’m open and interested in discussing other sources of new revenue that is supportive to Chicago tax payers.

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? 

Jennifer MaddoxIn my opinion, there is a disparity in the use of TIF funding to assist small community based businesses and a disproportionate amount of dollars being spent downtown opposed to neighborhoods that are deprived economically.

Aldermanic power

What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?

Jennifer MaddoxEvery ward has different/similar needs, constituents should be included in the conversation when it comes to what should happen in the ward, however, alderman should not hide behind constituent concerns if it is discriminatory treatment or practices.

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? 

Jennifer MaddoxRecent events in the city involving police officers seems to warrant some type of oversight to ensure that officers are better trained and if the consent decree can do that, I’m in favor.

Guns

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

Jennifer MaddoxChicago has many laws on the books that should be enforced and some level of focus should be placed on tightening the area where there are loop holes, those areas should be addressed.

Schools

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

Jennifer MaddoxCharter schools should be utilized as part of the answer to Chicago’s educational disparities not the only or complete answer.

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? 

Jennifer MaddoxI am not opposed to an elected school board since i was a part of an elected local school council. I am interested in this discussion.

Affordable housing

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

Jennifer MaddoxYes, the 20th ward has benefited from the diversity of households at every social and economic levels. Partnerships with organizations like POAH, CHA, Holsten and the Resurrection Project has increased affordable housing in the 20th ward. The 20th ward was also a recipient of the choice neighborhood award that is designed to support housing.

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? 

Jennifer MaddoxChicago as a welcoming city should remain in place and the city should be willing to challenge any federal policy that seeks to punish the city for its long standing position on immigration.

Ethics

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

Jennifer MaddoxYes. The City Council has demonstrated the need for increased oversight. This will also increase the level of trust and confidence that the public has with its elected officials.

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. 
Jennifer MaddoxHave not and would not.

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. 

Jennifer Maddox: As i have observed our city council representatives for decades now, I have seen profiles of courage and I have seen members that have attempted to better their communities and work to have what was right and needed for their wards. I would say that several alderman have inspired me with their passion, compassion and attentiveness toward matters and furthering the vision of the city and its people. Those are the attributes that i would model.