39th Ward candidate for alderman: Joe Duplechin
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The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 39th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Joe Duplechin submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Joe Duplechin?
He’s running for: 39th Ward alderman
His political/civic background: Lifetime Member of the VFW. Volunteer/Assist with Boy Scout Troop 3969. Volunteered for the PTO at my children’s school
His occupation: Chicago Police Officer
His education: B.S. Accounting
Campaign website: crowdpac.com/profile/joefor39th
Facebook page: facebook.com/39thwardcandidate/
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Joe Duplechin: Improve public safety in every community. Have a service-oriented Ward, with reliable and predictable programs. Prioritize the needs, and goals of the communities which I serve.
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.
Joe Duplechin: I serve the City everyday as a Chicago Police Officer. I am a life member of the VFW and support many Veterans causes. I support Unions and have supported striking workers throughout the city.
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.
Joe Duplechin: I believe if you reduce benefits for current employees, or retirees the city would be breaking a deal/promise it has made with its workers. It is not the fault of the workers that bad management has led to 42 Billion in unfunded pension liabilities. As far as reducing pensions in general, I believe we have to stop looking at the results of a contract with workers or government as a zero sum game. During times of economic prosperity, we should all reap the benefit. During times of economic hardship, we should all feel the pain.
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.
Joe Duplechin: I favor a Casino, because I believe it could help with tourism in the city. I favor legalized marijuana because the taxes could help our fiscal crisis, and the rules would make it legal rather than quasi-legal. As far as the other taxes, I believe we need to be careful as to not scare off businesses or residents.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Joe Duplechin: The reality is that we need to raise revenues as a city to meet our obligations. Revenues can only be raised essentially through taxes, or cuts in city services. We need to be open to a variety of options, including taxes, new revenue sources, and most importantly creating an environment where businesses, and residences can thrive.
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?
Joe Duplechin: I would favor a more transparent system. When a TIF is created in one part of the city, its impact is felt citywide through loss of funds to CPS, and the city’s general fund. I believe the criteria should be more definitive, its goals clear and apparent, and its need based in actual data. I also believe the guiding principal of a TIF district being to help those areas of the city that need it the most.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Joe Duplechin: This is a difficult question for me. I grew up in poor conditions, and would have benefited from affordable housing as a child. Aldermanic prerogative can work to force alderman to build affordable housing in their respective wards as well. So, to reign in a tool in one section, would force losing a tool in another section of the city.
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?
Joe Duplechin: As the vast majority of police officers are good people, the consent decree will only impact department policies. The decree will probably make it more difficult for good police officers to do their jobs. I wish the FOP, or any street level police officers could have had a say in how the decree was written, other than in the public comment section. If the consent decree serves to protect the citizens of Chicago, I will support it.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Joe Duplechin: I believe the only way to reduce the number of illegal guns in Chicago has more than one answer. First, we have to make sure our elected officials, and judges follow the laws as written. Second, make sure those that have access to guns in Illinois are not contributing to the destruction of our communities. Third, partner with federal law enforcement to make sure states with relaxed laws or different needs are not helping to contribute to Chicago’s gun violence problem.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Joe Duplechin: I believe if CPS were managed in a way that put students, teachers, and neighborhoods in the forefront our neighborhood schools would all be successful, and there would be no need for profit taking 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?
Joe Duplechin: I believe our citizens are informed enough to have an elected school board.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Joe Duplechin: Our ward is diverse with pockets of people of varying incomes living in, sort of defined sections. So, for example, all of the affordable housing areas are clustered together. Also, most of the areas are clustered together in similar ways. Such as single family, apartments, condos, and high-end housing. I would like to integrate a lot of these communities. I believe a thriving community takes people from all walks of life.
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?
Joe Duplechin: I believe our government has no right, or obligation to find out someone who is in the U.S.A’s immigration status. If one person is subjected to immigration checks everyone should be. However, I do not believe anyone should be. Now, if someone commits a serious crime, and thereby their immigration status is discovered, that is acceptable.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Joe Duplechin: I do not think the inspector general has the ability to be an expert on every topic our local government provides. However, I believe audits should take place with the results being available to any local, state, or federal authorities.
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.
Joe Duplechin: I currently have no employees. I would not hire those with special interests either.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Joe Duplechin: No, I plan to be a modern role model for alderman.