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21st Ward candidate for alderman: Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.

21st Ward aldermanic candidate Joseph C. Ziegler Jr Rich Hein

21st Ward aldermanic candidate Joseph C. Ziegler Jr. at the Sun-Times Jan. 25. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 21st Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Joseph C. Ziegler Jr. submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):

Who is Joseph C. Ziegler Jr. ?

He’s running for: 21st Ward alderman

His political/civic background: I have served as Executive Director of the Community Action Network (CAN).  Through our organization we have:  fed families at Thanksgiving and Christmas, painted homes for seniors free of charge, donated baseballs to our little league teams, held political candidate forums to familiarize residents with those individuals who seek elective office, and so much more.  I have not stopped working in the community.

His occupation: Business Owner (Entrepreneur)

His education:

  • Keller Graduate School, Chicago, Illinois
  • Southern University Baton Rouge, Louisiana: BS Business
  • Chicago Vocational High School

Campaign website: Pending

Facebook: Friends-of-Joseph-C-Ziegler-Jr

Top priorities

What are the top three priorities for your ward?

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.:

  1. Crime
  2. Restoration of City Services
  3. 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. 

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: The past summer I partnered with the Brainerd Community Organization to assist with the community reunion picnic.


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.

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: My Mother worked for the City of Chicago Department of Health for over 20 years.  I am opposed to reducing the benefits those employees earned through there years of working with the City. As an Elected Official I will see innovative methods of funding the pension shortfall.

City employment has also paid for many homes within the City of Chicago.  Currently, I am not a proponent of amending the State Constitution to reduce the pension benefits.



Of the following often proposed sources of new revenue for Chicago, which of the following do you favor, and why?  

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: 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.*

Four years ago, I proposed a commuter tax for those who live and pay taxes outside of the City of Chicago.  Many laughed at my position to charge a nominal tax $ 0.25 for those Metra and Pace stops beyond the City limits for those who enter the city to work and take resources outside of the City.  To my surprise Mayoral Candidate Bill Daley is also considering such a tax.

It was a good proposal four years ago and should be considered again.

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

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: Regarding the other options, I am open to discuss the features and benefits of each proposal with the exception of increasing taxes on the residents of the City of Chicago.


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?

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: The TIF Program was initially used as an economic development tool for blighted areas.  Somehow the program became a slush fund for the Mayor to reward friends.  It is important that the TIF Program be used as a tool for blighted areas (Southside and Westside) and NOT downtown and the South Loop.

Aldermanic power

What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: This is a very general question.  I am not clear on what specifically is asked.  I would request this questions be restated.

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?

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: Overall, I believe the actions of a few Police Officers are impacting the entire department.  I am a proponent of Civil Rights for all citizens and believe the department can amend their training and adopt non-lethal methods where applicable.


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

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: The only deterrent to crime is jobs. Guns and gun use is a byproduct of double digit unemployment in the community.  As an Alderman I will meet regularly with business owners in my ward and those who seek employment to provide a clearing house for community residents who wish to be employed.


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

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: I believe the Charter School System was designed to break up the Chicago Teacher’s Union.  These schools receive a subsidy from CPS.  Initially the Charter Schools took some of the best and brightest students and performed well.  As community students migrated into the charter school system some of the Charter Schools face the same challenges as the Public Schools.

I would be a proponent of declaring a moratorium on Charter Schools within the city of Chicago.

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?*

I would be open to a hybrid form of a School Board which would Mayoral appointments and Elected Board Members.

Affordable housing

 Is there enough affordable housing in your ward?  Please explain

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: No.  I have a plan to create affordable homes from foreclosed and abandon properties within the ward.


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?

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: I am currently in favor of Chicago’s position, and I am in favor of respecting the Civil Rights of undocumented immigrants who live in Chicago.


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

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: Yes, and the Inspector General should be given subpoena authority.

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.

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: No.

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.

Joseph C. Ziegler Jr.: There are two Aldermen that would receive an Honorable Mention:  Alderman David Moore, 17th Ward and Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th Ward.  I have admired how Alderman Moore and Alderman Garza have worked within their wards to improve the quality of life for the residents.


Also running for 21st Ward alderman: