4th Ward candidate for alderman: Ebony D. Lucas
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The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 4th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Ebony D. Lucas submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Ebony D. Lucas?
She’s running for: 4th Ward alderman
Her political/civic background:
- King College Prep Local School Council
- Mandrake Park Advisory Council, Immediate Past President
- 4th on 53rd Parade Committee
- Clean Kenwood Committee
Her occupation: Attorney
- JD, University of Michigan
- Masters of Management in Nonprofit Organization, Case Western Reserve University
- BA, Elementary Education, University of Michigan
Campaign website: lucasfor4th.com
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Ebony Lucas: (1) Create an aldermanic office that is accessible, responsive, and works collaboratively with, the residents of the ward through use of software to track resident issues, consistent town hall meetings, open office hours, and participatory budgeting.
(2) Improve public safety and police accountability by working collaboratively with CPD on a community policing plan for more officers on foot and bicycles and increased officer attendance and participation in community based and park district programming.
(3) Create a comprehensive community-driven development plan for the entire ward that includes affordable housing for working and middle income earners, clean energy, funding for improvement of neighborhood schools, and investment in commercial development and job creation.
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.
Ebony Lucas: In the last two years I have created a community garden; worked with community members and organizations to plan a safe place for teens on Halloween in Hyde Park; assisted Bronzeville residents with formation of block clubs; planned events as President of Mandrake Park Advisory Council; worked with students, parents, faculty, and staff at Kenwood High School to fight for funding for a clean school, functioning HVAC system– we were successfully added to the CPS budget.
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.
Ebony Lucas: The state constitution should not be amended nor should pension benefits for new employees be reduced.
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.
Ebony Lucas: I support legalized and taxed recreational marijuana and a LaSalle Street tax.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Ebony Lucas: I oppose a municipal sales tax increase and real estate transfer tax increase.
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?
Ebony Lucas: TIF Districts were established to develop in blighted communities but are not being used as they were intended. In addition, the Chicago Public Schools need the financial resources set aside for the TIF to bring equity to neighborhood schools in all communities. I support a moratorium on any new TIFs, a removal of the schools as a contributing body for the TIFs, and a review of TIF districts to ensure that the funds are being used to create jobs, vibrancy, and basic needs, such as grocery stores and healthy food choices in neighborhoods with the greatest need.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Ebony Lucas: Aldermanic prerogative has allowed segregation and lack of affordable housing in communities across the city. It can be reined in by requiring that every ward have a ratio of affordable to market rate housing. In addition, it should be limited in those wards where affordable housing is lacking.
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?
Ebony Lucas: The training and practices of the police department must be overhauled to rebuild the trust and relationship between police and the community. Any increase in job difficulty is outweighed by the public interest of reducing misconduct and having police who protect and serve.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Ebony Lucas: Chicago can reduce the number and use of illegal guns by investing in education and services in neighborhoods that are in the most need. Investment in schools, training, jobs, vibrancy, and opportunity as well as addressing basic needs such as healthy eating and mental health will reduce the cycle of criminal activity.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Ebony Lucas: Charter schools have an opportunity to bring educational opportunities such as single- sex schools, arts, and other programs targeted at students who have unique needs, talents, or gifts. Charter schools should not be used as an alternative to having quality neighborhood schools in every 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?
Ebony Lucas: The Chicago Board of Education should be an elected school board.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Ebony Lucas: There is not enough affordable housing in the 4th Ward, especially for working and middle income families who cannot qualify for subsidized housing. One solution for this is an ordinance that removes some of the obstacles from purchasing existing properties that need rehab.
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?
Ebony Lucas: Chicago is a welcoming city, however, we still have policies, such as the gang database, that allow authorities to target undocumented immigrants. The resources used to target undocumented immigrants should be used to provide education and other services to assist families with obtaining legal status in the US.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Ebony Lucas: The inspector general should have the power to audit and review city council programs so that the office can effectively prevent corruption, fraud, misconduct, and waste.
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.
Ebony Lucas: No.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Ebony Lucas: My goal as Alderman is to be a leader who empowers residents, addresses issues, and contributes to the successes of everyone. There are multiple Alderman who have engaged residents, communicated effectively, and who have truly considered the residents of their Wards and the City of Chicago. I look to those best practices for inspiration.
Also running for 4th Ward alderman: