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24th Ward candidate for alderman: Traci ‘Treasure’ Johnson

24th Ward aldermanic candidate Traci Treasure Johnson 2019 mayoral election | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

24th Ward aldermanic candidate Traci "Treasure" Johnson meets with the Sun-Times Editorial Board Jan. 25. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 24th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the city and their ward. Traci “Treasure” Johnson submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):

Who is Traci “Treasure” Johnson?

She’s running for: 24th Ward alderman

Her political/civic background: I have had the Opportunity to work with multiple campaigns from local Alderman, State Reps., Congressman and State Senators. I am also a community activist and the secretary of the oldest west side organization the now 74 year old Midwest Community Council. Formerly Led by our “Joan of Arc” of the westside Ms. Nancy B. Jefferson

Her occupation: Part owner of 25 year old family business S&S Pest Control

Her education: Oak Park River Forest for high school and Triton for some college

Twitter: @ForTraci

Facebook: CitizensforTreasure24thward

Top priorities

What are the top three priorities for your ward?

Traci “Treasure” Johnson: Equal Economic Development, Employment opportunities and rapid homelessness

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. 

Traci “Treasure” Johnson: I have stood out front for many years with MCC where we focus on education, healthcare, economic development, job placement small business inclusion and unjust issues. Alongside with the community’s advocates, business owners and residents demanding fairness of the access to local, city and state contracts, job opportunities for ex offenders and at risk youths, and justice for victims of the continued police brutality including Rekeyia Boyd, Pierre Loury, Aaron Harrison, LaQuan McDonald to name a few.

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.

Traci “Treasure” Johnson: I do not think that the Constitution should be a amended for reductions to the current city employees due to the fact that the agreement has already been in place and promised to the workers, but I do believe for the new and future city employees the pension benefits should be assessed properly, equally, and fairly based upon the current economy


SUN-TIMES 2019 CHICAGO VOTING GUIDE


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.

Traci “Treasure” Johnson: I favor a Chicago casino, legalized and taxed marijuana, a LaSalle Street tax and the real estate transfer tax. These entities can generate millions of dollars with the proper taxes being applied that are just not in place currently

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

Traci “Treasure” Johnson: I oppose another property tax increase because we can not continue to create revenue off the backs of the hard working constituents of the communities

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? 

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonI favor electing a committee that oversees the allocation of the TIF dollars to ensure they are honestly and accurately being properly appropriated and directed towards exactly what it is set aside for originally. To help enhance and develop our blighted communities that are surrounding the majority of our black and brown residents. To invite private developers that meet the expectations and demands of those who reside in the community First not later.

Aldermanic power

What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonI will be true representation of All the people in the 24th ward once elected and continue to serve and represent the people during my entire term and after!

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? 

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonI agree that it is definitely long overdue. As we see time and time again the police department and some of its officers are truly disconnected with many of our communities. Where it’s obvious that the non training has been a main factor in many instances.

Guns

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

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonI will work with my state legislators to enforce a stricter trafficking law to detect illegal gun distribution

Schools

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

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonThe role of the charter schools was to provide another educational option for parents that are interested in the more advanced technologies that are not restrictions of bargaining. It sort of became a weapon for corporate privatization of education. I will implement an advisory board to oversee the results of the current charter schools to make certain they are not taking away from the CPS system and children in the community

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? 

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonI totally support an elected school board

Affordable housing

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

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonNo there is not enough affordable housing in the 24th ward, but there is definitely a large amount of vacant land and abandoned properties within the ward where I foresee definite economic development by true and sincere developers looking to work hand-in-hand with the residents.

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? 

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonThe laws should be enforced fairly and due process must take its course

Ethics

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

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonYes, the IG should have the power to audit and review as long as there is transparency. And in the case it’s not, a new committee should be implemented including the proper parties that will investigate thoroughly with un bias

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. 

Traci “Treasure” JohnsonNo it would be a definite conflict of interest

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. 

Traci “Treasure” Johnson: Yes it is. Former Alderman Wallace Davis Jr. My current senior advisor who has been a true mentor, true representation of the people, who is one of the few to stand up against the status quo while serving in city council. Making history by being the first black Alderman to beat the democratic machine incumbent Ed Quigley. The Only Alderman to designate a boulevard to a living legend the Joan of Arc of the west side Ms. Nancy B. Jefferson naming Warren Blvd. Nancy B. Jefferson Blvd before her transition! History maker that continues to make history!


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