Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board questionnaire:
1) Donald Trump calls Chicago violence “totally out of control.” What are your solutions?
The fact of the matter is, Chicago’s violence is out of control. It’s led to our citizens
feeling powerless against what often seems like random violence that affects innocent people. It makes residents feel as though they are losing control to perpetrators, while also losing their city to a reputation no one wants. One of the tenets of my 6-Point Plan I developed as a result of listening to the concerns residents have over rising crime rates,is promoting peace. Here are my ideas on how we do that together:
a. I want more and better trained police. Under-trained officers contribute to hair-trigger responses and unwarranted action against unarmed citizens.
b. I want more social programs for youth; like most people, I believe that an “idle
mind” leads to young people flailing for something to do, and that something
isn’t always good. I want more grassroots programs that help keep, or get, young
people on a path toward engagement (positive social interaction), then
graduation, employment or education.
i. One example of a program that is working is the YMCA of Metro
Chicago’s Urban Warriors program that pairs military veterans with gang-
involved youth to mentor them; the veterans are self-less, serving twice
(once in a recent war, again in this community program)
c. I believe we need a special prosecutor to handle cases of police misconduct.
d. I want to recruit more people and organizations to perform what I call “selfless
activities” for the greater good of our communities. By this, I mean that people
contribute in small ways like a block clean-up activity on a Saturday afternoon. A
few neighbors get together and pick up trash on the block.
2) Does Chicago’s Welcoming City (sanctuary city) Ordinance give immigrants enough protection? Why or why not? How far should the city go if being a sanctuary city jeopardizes future federal funding?
As someone who thinks the city must maintain and grow the funding generated from federal resources, I am concerned about jeopardizing federal funding. Yet, I believe that we need to do what it takes to protect Chicago residents, and to protect our status as a Sanctuary City without jeopardizing funds.
a. I stand for protection for all citizens.
b. It’s important to share with you that during all of my conversations and
listening sessions across the 4th ward, this topic has not emerged as a key
issue for the residents of the 4th Ward.
c. Realizing that I will be Alderman for not just the 4th Ward, but a voice for the
city overall, I pledge to have an open mind on the city’s response to the new
President’s warning about a potential loss of funds, while always listening to
the people of my ward, and collaborating with other members of City Council
to help develop solutions.
3) Some reforms have been put in place for the Chicago Police Department. What
additional reforms, if any, are still needed?
I applaud the reforms that have been put in place so far, and as an Alderman, I would becommitted to promoting peaceful solutions to a volatile issue, I would call for:
a. More training for police officers
b. Initiatives to re-establish trust between CPD and the community
c. Greater transparency in the CPD budget, including cuts, any reduction of the
work force, and the incremental addition of new officers.
4) How would you improve the city’s junk bond credit rating?
It is deplorable that the city has permitted this kind of fiscal irresponsibility to go on unchecked for so many years. As a trained accountant I understand deferring debt repayment and restructuring loans, but most every day citizens do not. Elected officials have a duty to make it plain to residents why we are where we are and how thestewards of the city’s finances plan to address our financial woes. Here are a few ideas I would implement in the near future as Alderman:
a. Reduce reliance on short-term borrowing and postponing debt repayment
until decades into the future. Our children and the most vulnerable in the
city should not have to suffer the consequences years in the future of poor
decisions made in the past.
b. Increase transparency in government spending. Explain to Chicago residents
how and why it is important to maintain a certain credit rating, how it affects
the ability to borrow later and the consequences of such actions.
c. Address the pension debt head-on, but find solutions that don’t unduly
weigh heavily on the backs of the citizens who have already paid enough.
d. Develop new sources of revenue which do not rely on increasing property
taxes. The residents of the city have shouldered enough of the burden. It’s
time for the elected officials and city leaders to start thinking more creatively
and stop reaching for the low-hanging fruit.
5) What would you do to propose to do to reverse the city’s population losses?
As Alderman, my mantra will always start and end with protecting our citizens and
exercising greater fiscal responsibility. When we do those two things consistently, then we can see improvements in other areas: better quality education, a more effective police force, reduction in crime, improved housing options for all residents. Specifically, my goals are:
a. Reengage the citizens in a system of government that is for and by the
b. Increase transparency in government, recognizing not every resident will
agree with every decision made in City Council or by their Alderman, but
when elected I will ensure the residents know the issues and my position on
them long before votes are cast in city council meetings.
c. Develop new tourism hubs in the ward, not just in downtown and north side
neighborhoods. For example, establishing new cultural attractions in the 4th
Ward south of the loop and near south side that can become hubs for
restaurants, entertainment, small businesses and new housing options.
We’ve seen examples of this in Andersonville and in Pilsen.
6) The city has been using TIFs to pay for loans to improve the CTA. Would you
consider raising property taxes for public transit, or you do you have some other idea?
First, raising property taxes for any reason should be frowned upon. Second, most
residents’ understanding of TIF comes from what they might briefly read in the newspapers and briefly hear on the news. For most people, it’s a complex issue that they don’t have the time to dive into and understand fully, while trying to juggle work, school, family and other responsibilities. What they DO understand, deeply, is that our schools are still languishing, crime is still rising, and vacant lots and abandoned buildings are still the norm in their ward. So, as Alderman, I would use my financial background to educate the public and, with their input, work to develop innovative solutions to the public transit problem.
Rather than discuss what I am against, I will tell you what I am for.
a. I support reducing the fiscal burden of the city’s residents by not longer
seeking first to increase property taxes as an automatic means to increase
b. I am for advocacy, which means I will educate the residents about what TIF
funds are and how they were intended to be used. And I’ll help hold elected
officials accountable for using the funds in the manner in which they were
c. As Alderman I would seek funding from the state and federal government to
ease the financial constraints facing public transit today.
d. I am in favor of listening to the residents of the 4th Ward about the lack of
transit options connecting the south lakeside communities with downtown,
about poor service and rising fares, and I’ll balance those concerns with our
current financial resources in an effort to find new solutions to old problems.
e. I am an advocate for creating feedback loops with the community. To that
end as Alderman, I would create TIF Advisory Boards that include residents of
the 4th Ward who would have a say in how TIF funds are spent in their
f. I support rewarding TIF initiatives and businesses that provide mandatory job
training or apprenticeships for our youth.
7) Property taxes in the city are going up partly to pay for Chicago Public Schools. Is this the right approach, or do you favor another way to stabilize Chicago’s public
The right approach to supporting a quality public education for all students is one that promotes fiscal responsibility and accountability as well as protects and prepares our children for a competitive job market. Two major components of my 6-Point Plan are to offer quality public education for all and to increase fiscal competency which when included as cornerstones of any assets-based approach, stabilize our schools. How do we do that?
a. We must begin to develop innovative alternative revenue sources to fund
quality public education. Stop reaching for the low hanging fruit – property
taxes. Let’s think smarter, longer and harder on complex issues that deserve
fiscally sound solutions.
b. We must increase the number of viable properties on the tax rolls in order to
increase the revenue generated by property taxes.
c. We have to rehabilitate vacant lots and abandoned buildings, which not only
adds revenue but reduces crime by eliminating the nooks and crannies in our
neighborhoods that are sought out by criminals.
d. We must develop, support and promote programing for our youth that make
a life of crime seem unattractive and unappealing.
8) Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised to eliminate “scoop and toss” by 2020. Also, the city borrows to pay for large legal settlement costs. Do you support that? If not, how should the city pay for its settlements in the future?
This is a very good, layered question with several embedded issues, some of which many residents do not understand. As the candidate with professional financial and legal experience, this is a complex matter that is extremely important to me, and one that as Alderman, I believe I have the business acumen to fully appreciate, while adding value to the conversation and help generate viable solutions.
First, scoop and toss: It’s a financial strategy that seeks to delay debt repayment far out in the future. It is my belief, that the current plan to eliminate scoop and toss debt by 2020 is too far out. We need an immediate solution to eliminate this form of debt restructuring. Borrowing, to pay for large legal settlements or any other debt for that matter, that delays repayment of a significant loan for decades is not the best financial practice and one that should be avoided. I would support a reasonable fiscally sound plan that address the debt in the short, delays payment, but not the at the expense of future funding of much needed city services, programs and initiatives.
Furthermore, we need to examine why the city is paying out such large legal
settlements in the first place. It is my understanding that the largest legal settlements stem from police misconduct cases. Let’s take a long hard look at police reforms that can reduce the misconduct, which should lead to fewer lawsuits and settlements.
9) Civic groups, including the Civic Federation, have called for consolidating local
governments in Chicago and reducing the number of elected officials, including the number of aldermen on the City Council. Do you support that?
I would support any reasonable measure to improve the manner in which the city
council conducts business and advocate for what is best for all the city’s residents. This would include consolidating departments and agencies where it makes fiscal sense to do so and reducing the number of aldermen. I would pay close attention to the revised remap, and as Alderman, advocate for preserving the unique fabric of our neighborhoods and stop the practice of playing politics and gerrymandering by drawing lines that seek to divide and destroy that very fabric.
10) What are the two biggest issues specifically affecting the Fourth Ward and what are your plans to deal with them?
In my 6-Point Plan I discuss several issues that I’ve gleaned are most important to the residents by talking with them in the places they live and work. What I hear time and again is that public safety, education and quality housing are at the top of the list, and they are addressed in the plan. But for me to select just two of them as the most important is an insult to the others.
As Alderman, I would address the importance of fiscal accountability and advocacy for the residents of the 4th Ward as my primary goals. Because when we address our fiscal ills we will have enough resources for more, better trained police walking the streets; quality public education for all children; quality housing at reasonable prices; and more energy efficient living. And when we prioritize the well-being and improved quality of life for all the city’s residents, we restore people’s faith in government and their trust in their elected officials to advocate, to be accessible and to be accountable.
Experience working in leadership roles on Chicago political campaigns and in national civic organizations and local not-for- profit foundations.
Education: JD, University of Illinois; BA, Roosevelt University; St. Ignatius College Prep
Gerald Scott McCarthy