On Feb. 14, Timothy L. Parker Sr. appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for Cook County commissioner in the 5th District in the March 2018 primary:
My name is Tim Parker and I’m a candidate for Cook County Commissioner in the 5th District. I am a veteran of the United States Army. I’m also a 19-year veteran of the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, where I’m currently employed. I grew up in foster care in Harvey. A graduate of Lawrence Township High School.
My top priorities for the county board once I’m elected would be to balance the county budget without creating new taxes or raising existing taxes. To cut spending at the county level versus raising taxes and to create an alliance with small businesses throughout the 5th District to ensure that those businesses grow and to develop economic stability throughout the 5th District.
My other top priority would be to bring back a Level 1 trauma center to the South Side. Specifically to the south suburbs. The first thing we have to do in terms of balancing the budget and cutting spending is do a needs assessment for every department. We can do this by either bringing in outside auditors or using our own financial departments within the county to perform that needs assessment.
The other thing would be in terms of creating the relationships with the small businesses. We have to find out first of all what is it that the small business owners need. What is it that we can do at the county level to help you grow? To help you sustain because if I don’t know what’s needed, I don’t know where the help is going to come from or how the help is going to come.
In terms of the trauma center, at one point there were three trauma centers in the 5th District alone. There are five major hospitals inside the 5th District. So what needs to happen is we need to have a conversation with health care professionals to find out 1, why did we lose those trauma centers? Two, can we get them back? And 3, what is going to take for us to get them back? These are conversations that are not currently being had.
The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations for the Cook County Board of Commissioners a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the county. Parker submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
QUESTION: The County Board enacted and then repealed a tax on sweetened beverages, then made further cuts to the budget. Can county government now claim an appropriate balance of revenue and services, or will more revenue or more cost-cutting be necessary? Please be specific as to where new revenue might come from, or where further cuts could be made.
ANSWER: By performing a needs assessment and looking at a nonessential and making the cuts in those areas. I believe that will cut back on a lot of the wasteful spending.
Timothy L. Parker Sr.
Political/civic background: Political Strategies, Member of DWSS, Youth Mentor & Community Service Advocate
Occupation: Cook County Sheriff Department (Deputy)
Education: Some College
Campaign website: https://electtimparker.org/
QUESTION: If the Affordable Care Act is eliminated or curtailed, what would you propose doing to keep the county’s Health and Hospitals System on sound financial footing?
ANSWER: My position would be by going back to what we were doing prior to the affordable care act was put in place. I also think now is a great time to bring awareness to the importance of better communication and collaboration directed at improving community health and doing so with greater efficiency. By doing so it will allow for a better understanding of needs from a healthcare staff and community standpoint.
QUESTION: What county functions or services would you support privatizing, if any, to reduce costs?
ANSWER: I don’t believe we should be privatizing services in areas where we have trained / skilled employees to perform the job.
QUESTION: The state of Illinois is behind on paying money it owes to Cook County. What’s to be done about that?
ANSWER: Once elected I will research what option are available for recovery any funds owed to the county.
QUESTION: What is your position on tax-increment financing districts? Are they a valuable development tool? Are they underutilized? Is the process sufficiently transparent? Should there be more community input? Should the definition of a “blighted” area be revised?
ANSWER: I think tax increment financing are good for bringing new major corporations to the area. The underutilization of TIF’s I feel comes from a misunderstanding of how the program actually works. As far as more community involvement I don’t see where that would be necessary. No it just simply means the area is in need of attention now I do feel that associating the word slum with should not be the case.
QUESTION: Recently, there have been calls to freeze local property taxes. What’s your view on the matter?
ANSWER: I am not oppose to freezing property taxes however before that can be done we first have to create a formula for determining property taxes that is equal and fair to all tax payers.
QUESTION: Do you support or oppose efforts to merge unincorporated pockets of the county into adjoining municipalities? If so, how would you make that happen?
ANSWER: I’m not opposing to this merging unincorporated pockets of Cook County because it will relieve some of the financial burden from the county’s budget.
QUESTION: What is your plan to encourage economic development in the county?
ANSWER: We need economic stabilization in distressed areas of the county first this can only come by supporting the small business community within those communities through offering tax incentives just as we would the major corporations.
QUESTION: An additional $40 million per year is needed to fund the Forest Preserve District’s Next Century Conservation Plan. Where can the county find the money?
ANSWER: Creating a new revenue stream by charging endogenous inmates a fee for healthcare and prescriptions as other Illinois are currently doing this will provide funding that could use for general operating purposes including the Next Century Conservation Plan.
QUESTION: Traditionally, the Forest Preserve District has not charged for parking in the preserves, but it is considering doing so at Swallow Cliff Woods. Do you support that?
ANSWER: No, I will not support paying for parking at the forest preserve people are already paying for the grove.
QUESTION: Should the Forest Preserve District have its own board, independent of the County Board? Please explain.
ANSWER: No I don’t believe another board is necessary. This will only create more bureaucracy that is not needed.
QUESTION: Is Cook County treated fairly by the state? If not, how so?
ANSWER: No, I believe the schools in Cook County are underfunded which means the children in Cook County does not receive the same education benefits as other areas in the State of Illinois.
QUESTION: Do you support another effort in the Legislature to reform the county’s pension system?
ANSWER: Yes, county employees are forced to work longer than other government agencies. Cook County requires employees to work 30+ years before receiving 80% of their pension.
QUESTION: Please name any relatives who hold a county job. What’s your general view on elected officials hiring relatives?
ANSWER: I have no relative that work for the county. I don’t feel it’s a problem if the relative has the proper credentials and experience for the job and they are the most qualified applicant.