While the debate of the benefits of public schools versus charter schools continues, many are calling for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools until education funding can be sustained at a level where public schools are not continuing to close at such a high rate.
If elected, Enyia would institute an elected school board for the city's schools. Enyia supports a freeze on the creation of charter schools in the city. If elected Enyia says she will end "unnecessary testing." Enyia supports the reinstatement of arts programs and the expansion of vocational education in strategic sectors.
If elected, Walls supports an elected school board where the chief executive officer is a certified educator.
Collins supports the creation of an elected Chicago public school board. Collins supports an initiative to provide associate and skilled labor degrees to students who have graduated from Chicago public high schools, free of charge. All tuition fees and books would be paid for by the city.
If re-elected, Emanuel promises to work towards graduating 85% of public school students by 2019, and expand wi-fi connections to every classroom in the system. Emanuel will triple the number of full-day pre-K programs from 100 classrooms to 300 classrooms by 2019 and ensure that every family is within three miles of a "quality" high school program.
Fioretti supports the creation of an elected school board for the city. Fioretti supports a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools. If elected, Fioretti would work towards expanding universal pre kindergarten in Chicago Public Schools.
If elected, Wilson supports the implementation of an elected school board. Wilson also supports utilizing some of the 50 closed city schools to establish a "vigorous" trade school and alternative school program that would teach para-medical, mechanical, culinary, and other trades while allowing for the review and study of the GED for any resident without a high school diploma.
If elected, Garcia would work with state lawmakers to revoke mayoral control of the city's school board and institute an elected one. He would minimize standardized testing to the "barest legal minimum" and place a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools. Garcia would also make sure that critical bilingual and dual-language programs are available in schools for students who need them.
Violent crime is a major issue in Chicago. With 441 homicides in 2013, and 393 as of December 9, 2014 Chicago is on track to keep its title as one of the top three cities in the United States with the most murders. A worrisome paradox emerges when the number of shooting victims in the city is examined. Even as the overall crime and homicide rate steadies, the rate of gun violence is continuing to grow and looks to surpass previous years on record.
If elected, Enyia would hire more police in a bid to cut down on excessive overtime. Enyia has promised to expand restorative justice programs in order to "reduce crime and increase community accountability."
In order to "immediately reduce the number of violent crimes," Walls would declare a State of Emergency in order to implement a series of specific actions including suspending all police officer vacations and furlough days; conducting "high visibility" outdoor roll calls and academy recruit training in and around high crime areas; stopping police from writing parking tickets. He would also replace the vast majority of sworn officers presently assigned to office duty with civilians and reassign officers to street patrol.
Collins plans to hire 5,500 new police officers and 5,000 more firefighters for the city. If elected, Collins promises to remove all red light and speed trap cameras within the city.
If re-elected, Emanuel would add an additional 1000 police officers to city streets while creating a pilot program to equip patrol officers with body cameras. Emanuel has promised to expand the youth summer jobs program to effect 25,000 young people by 2018. He would also increase the "One Summer Plus" program enrolment number to 4,000 kids by 2015, regulate gun sales in the city and "closely review" applications for concealed carry permits.
If elected, Fioretti would hire at least 500 new police officers to patrol city streets. Fioretti supports re-opening city mental health clinics and creating after school and job training programs to keep kids "engaged and off the streets." He favours a "holistic" approach to policing.
Wilson does not support the hiring of more city police officers as it would result in a tax increase to support the additions. He believes that more innovative management is needed to increase the effectiveness of the existing police force. Wilson supports the implementation of stronger penalties for illegal firearms and a buyback program in order to address the problem of gun violence in the city.
If elected Garcia promises to put 1,000 new police officers on city streets. He will work towards creating "safe spaces" in every neighbourhood by replacing foreclosed properties with community "peace hubs" on high-violence blocks; keep libraries open and accessible; and ensure that park district facilities have programming that reflects the needs and interests of the communities.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the city currently owes almost $14 billion in general debt, while the city's pension funds owe around $19.5 billion in unfunded obligations to firefighters, police, and municipal employees. This equals more than four times of the city's $7 billion annual operating budget. Earlier this year Standard and Poor gave Chicago its lowest credit rating of D while Moody's Investor Service concluded that Chicago has the highest level of unfunded pension debt "of any rated U.S. local government."
If elected, Enyia would work to freeze the city's increasing debt. Enyia supports the enaction of a LaSalle Street Tax. Enyia has promised to honor current pension commitments.
If elected Walls would work to reduce the city's debt by transitioning from a "Debt to Fund Services" system to a "Pay as You Go" revenue and expenditure system. He would also cut the government utility costs by modernizing for efficiency in all city facilities. If mayor, Walls would offer city employees the option of a ten hour a day, four day a week, forty hour work week to reduce daily start-up costs.
If elected, Collins would use Title 1 funding to create a revenue base for the modernization of Chicago Public Schools. Collins supports the implementation of a $1 tax on all Chicago Board of Trade financial transactions. Collins promises to provide 90% of pensions to city employees that retire at age 50 with at least 20 years of service or more. If elected, Collins would implement a homeowner tax relief program that would freeze property taxes for the next 4 years.
If elected, Fioretti would tap TIF surpluses to address short term needs in the city's budget, and reform the way TIFs are handed out. Fioretti says he will work with State legislators to examine a LaSalle Street transaction tax to boost revenue for the city. He supports the introduction of a "small" commuter tax so that commuters are helping to pay for the upkeep of streets and city services.
If elected, Wilson supports increasing the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019. and the implementation of the "LaSalle Street tax" which would provide revenue from electronic financial transactions on Chicago’s trading exchanges. He also supports brining in a financial and pension expert to examine the current city pension situation and create "innovative, legal ways" to fully fund the pension system without raising taxes to support it.
Currently, job creation and minimum wage policy are the two major issues facing Chicago. The City of Chicago uses Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in order to create money for the development or redevelopment of a particular TIF district. TIF works by using speculated revenue from taxes to subsidize the creation and development of areas where tax money will be collected in the future.
Enyia has promoted the creation of incentives for entrepreneurs to hire locally. If elected, Enyia would streamline the small business licensing process.
Walls has outlined a number of initiatives to encourage economic development: Cutting Procurement Department red tape, unbundling government contracts, and, providing wrap up bonding and insurance. If elected, Walls would establish a City Start-up Capital loan program for equipment and payroll to enable more business' to submit bids for city work.
If elected, Collins would create 35,000 city worker jobs for employment at homeless shetlters, parks, and museums. If elected, Collins would implement a plan to create 250,000 new jobs in the city of Chicago over a three year period. 50,000 new jobs would be created in the public sector while 200,000 would be created in the private sector. If elected, Collins would build two new casinos on the south side of Chicago to produce new revenue for the city. Collins has stated he would raise the minimum wage to $16 an hour over a three year period.
Emanuel raised the minimum wage in Chicago to $13 by 2019. Over the next four years, he will ensure that the ordinance is fully implemented.
If elected, Fioretti would work to expand vocational education in schools and create a youth summer jobs program to continue helping train young people for the workforce. Fioretti has stated the importance of reducing red tape and bureaucracy to make it easier for small businesses to start in the city. If elected Fioretti supports raising the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour for companies that make more than $50 million a year.
Wilson supports a number of initiatives to increase economic development in the city. These include establishing a Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board; Selling vacant city owned lots for one dollar to community run small businesses; and creating mentorship programs to assist and supervise those who want to start a local business. Wilson also supports building a casino in the city to create jobs, revenue and bring tourists to the city.
All cities face obstacles as they grow and Chicago is no different. It takes the right leader to identify and address these problems as they arise in order to keep a city as a place people can and want to continue to grow with. Important community issues currently facing Chicago include mental health, affordable housing, crime, and unemployment.
If elected, Enyia would preserve current levels of affordable housing and increase accountability on landlords to provide quality housing. Enyia has committed to rebuilding community mental health services.
If elected, Walls would institute a plan to create 20 Big Box Grocery stores, and 60 mid-sized Neighborhood Markets. Walls supports the allowance of "cook-on-site food trucks" in the city.
Collins supports the construction of a new, city owned hospital with a level 1 trauma centre in the city's southside. If elected, Collins would implement a homeowner tax relief program that would freeze property taxes for the next 4 years.
If re-elected, Emanuel has promised a number of initiatives regarding community development including modernizing and expanding the city's public library system; ensuring every child is within 10 minutes of a park; continuing to eliminate food deserts; and expanding transit-oriented development. Emanuel would leverage $1.3 billion in public and private funds to "create, preserve, and rehabilitate 41,000 homes and apartments for public housing."
If elected, Fioretti supports the opening of a trauma centre on the city's South Side and would work to re-open public mental health clinics across the city. He would work towards closing food deserts across the city, and keeping housing affordable for all residents.
Ethics, accountability and transparency are the mainstays of good government. Regular audits and the publication of important public records are a good start to opening up democracy to the people, but the introduction the new technology is making it easier than ever. Webcasting public meetings, or using the internet to inform citizens of government decisions can further open up the decision making process to those whom it affects most.
Enyia is against the practice of PAC money and gifts for all city officials. If elected, Enyia would commit to webcasting all public cabinet meetings as well as a monthly mayoral public meeting.
Fioretti has stated he will end the prevalence of insider deals that benefit the well-connected in the city. If elected, Fioretti would proceed with a "top to bottom" audit of the city government to find waste, fraud, and abuse.