28th Ward candidate for alderman: Jasmine Jackson
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The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 28th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Jasmine Jackson submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Jasmine Jackson?
She’s running for: 28th Ward alderman
Her political/civic background: I am second time candidate for Alderman of the 28th Ward.
Her occupation: Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
Her education: B.A. — English Literature and Communications, M.Ed. — Elementary Education and Special Education, M.A. — School Leadership
Campaign website: jjfor2019.com
Twitter handle: @jjfor2019
Facebook page: facebook.com/jjfor2019/
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Jasmine Jackson: Increased public safety; neighborhood schools that will support a curriculum focusing on advancement in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (S.T.E.A.M.), and vocations. The development of small businesses to provide employment opportunities for all residents, and grocery stores within walking distance to to eliminate the food deserts in our neighborhoods.
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.
Jasmine Jackson: I actively volunteer and partner with community not for profits and civic organizations and contribute to the 7th congressional district planning committees and events focused on education, technology, mental health, employment and youth. I am a current member of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), CTU Black Caucus, Caucus of Rank and File Educators (C.O.R.E.), CTU Special Education Task Force, NAACP-Westside Chapter-Education Committee, NAACP -Westside Chapter Membership Committee, National Block Club University (N.B.C.U.), and the 7th Congressional District Special Education Committee.
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.
Jasmine Jackson: An unfunded pension liability is the difference between the pledges made to pensioners and the assets available to fund those pledges. The city pension funds only have half the funding required to support the city’s pension system. We must keep the pension benefits promises we made to current city employees. Yet, we must also ensure that the city can meet its pension obligations going forward. Therefore, to address our unfunded pension liability, we must amend the Illinois constitution. We should also replace the automatic 3 percent annual increases with an inflation formula, capped cost of living increase for new hires.
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.
Jasmine Jackson: We should completely consider the pros and cons of building a casino in Chicago. The only goal cannot be to stop Chicagoans from going to Indiana casinos. The revenue from that Casino must be earmarked and not used to replace money currently used to fund education, or some other mandate. Illinois legislators and the Governor seem to be inclined to legalize recreational marijuana. Any tax revenue resulting from the legalization of marijuana should help protect communities that may be negatively impacted by that legislation. It is highly unlikely that the Federal and State Government would change their position on the controversial LaSalle Street Tax. Therefore, I would not consider that as possible revenue source.The Commuter tax is not feasible. I would not support a Property tax increase. I am not in favor of increasing our municipal sales tax. The working poor are already hard pressed to make ends meet. We cannot become more dependent on regressive taxes. The proposed real estate transfer tax on properties that sell for more than a million dollars is an option. Video Gambling may be a possibility, but we need to do an impact study to determine whether or not it would raise enough revenue to make it worthwhile.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Jasmine Jackson: See above answer.
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?
Jasmine Jackson: TIFs are intended to develop housings and businesses in blighted communities.
The city should not be allowed to transfer TIF funds from one district to neighboring districts. Those funds should be used only in the original district. There should be greater transparency in the reporting of tax dollars diverted from other taxing bodies as a result of the TIF.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Jasmine Jackson: Aldermanic communications with contractors, those who own businesses in their ward, those who hope to do business within their ward, and others who do business with the city should be well documented. Alderman should be required to communicate with such entities and persons using their official City of Chicago emails.
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?
Jasmine Jackson: I wholeheartedly support the consent decree and its overhaul of the training and practices of the Chicago Police Department. First responders should receive training to deescalate situations involving individuals with mental illness or cognitive impairments. It will better prepare the officers when faced with a challenging situation and the community will not be fearful when the call is made to officers for support. It will also protect the residents in need of help and create a stronger relationship between the officers and the community residents. More importantly, it will hold police officers accountable for their actions. I also fully support Community Police Accountability Council (CPAC).
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Jasmine Jackson: We need to establish a task force made up of Chicago and suburban police forces who use advanced technology to prevent the flow of illegal guns. We have to make certain all coordinate their work in conjunction with the State Police.
Anyone in possession of a firearm that was used in the commission of a crime should receive stiffer sentences.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Jasmine Jackson: I am a former charter school educator so I believe charter schools can be used to expanded educational options. They can also empower educators and provide opportunities for greater innovation. However, charter schools should not be given preferential consideration by the city or state, and they cannot be used as an alternative to traditional public 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?
Jasmine Jackson: Chicagoans should elect a seven-member, single district, school board, with a board president elected at-large.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Jasmine Jackson: No. Affordable housing is a challenge for working families faced with rising property taxes, and individuals earning low wages. Quality, affordable housing should be and remain a top priority. A higher percentage of units should also be required to accommodate low income earners and senior citizens on a fixed income.
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?
Jasmine Jackson: Chicago police officers already have to face many challenges on a daily basis while working in high crime areas and should not be given the additional task of detaining undocumented immigrants. However, information should be shared with federal immigration authorities when an undocumented subject is taken into custody because local police agencies don’t have the same information as federal authorities, and local agencies do not have information if a person is wanted or has a warrant. Chicago police are here to protect the civilians and should not let anyone or anything compromise their safety or the safety of the civilians.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Jasmine Jackson: Yes. The Inspector General is the first line of defense against those who would engage in illegal activities. We must ensure that elected and appointed officials make decisions based upon that which is best for the city, not themselves or others. In addition to greater audit and review authority. The IG should also have subpoena power.
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.
Jasmine Jackson: No. I wouldn’t hire staff with ties city contractors.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Jasmine Jackson: Harold Washington because he was a champion for the neighborhoods and built a coalition of people of various hues and backgrounds. I will also champion the neighborhoods and build a coalition of people. I will entrust and rely on residents, activists, neighborhood groups, and faith based organizations to implement an agenda of caring and investing in people as the priority and foundation for rebuilding the 28th Ward.