What would you say this election is about? What is at stake in people’s lives? What is at stake for you?
Our country is becoming increasingly disparate: There is an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, a polarization of the political dialogue and the digital divide. Due to increasingly conservative federal trends, local communities and states must now take a more active role in ensurng respect and protections for its citizens.
The coming few years are going to see major changes in the 25th legislative district. The Obama Presidential Center, the proposed combination of the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses in the northern part of the district and South Works, a 20,000 unit project in the southern part of the district is going to change the entire character of the district. Few, if any, state legislative districts are likely to undergo such change in the upcoming years..
The 25th legislative district includes parts of the 4th,5th, 7th, 10th and 20th wards. There needs to be a coordinated legislative push by state, city, county and federal elected officials to ensure that the local community is involved in the planning and implementation process of these developments.
What is the core message of your campaign?
I am running for State Representative because I bring a unique perspective and skill set to dealing with the issues of criminal justice reform, education, and the creation of a fair budget. As an elder lawyer I have seen the direct impact that cuts in social service budgets mean to the lives of senior citizens, their adult children and their grandchildren. All generations are affected when cuts are made to programs for seniors or to day care and after school programs. As an attorney who has volumteered for Cabrini Green Legal Aid and the Office of the State appellate Defender, I have seen the terrible toll that the 'overfelonization' of crimes has, in its discriminatory application, taken on young people, especially those in minority communities.
Education, especially early childhood education, must be one of our major goals.
What do you think the role of government is or ought to be?
The role of government is to reach a consensus of the people on the conditions in which they wish to live. Further, it must provide a safety net of a minimum standard of living for its citizens. And it must maintain infrastructure, roads, bridges, transportation and provide common services to its people, i.e. water, sewage, police, fire services, etc. It must also act as the check on corporations preventing them from putting only coporate profits above the common good.
What do you see as the causes of and solutions for unemployment and underemployment? What would you do to create jobs? What do you think needs to happen to expand workers’ rights?
There are many reasons for un- and underemployment. Quality educaton, beginning in early childhood is essential. If we are to have a world class economy we must prepare our students to operate in the global market. Science, technology, engineering and math must be part of the cirruculum from the earliest grades. Through education and supportive programs we must address the digital divide that threatens to force people into second class citizenship.
We must realistically look at work force projections. What fields are growing?Health Care, Computer programming,digital security, robotics, artificial intelligence, wind power, solar power. There is the potential for good well paying jobs in each of these areas and I would focus on bringing state monies to colleges and local organizations which can demonstrate the ability to train for existing high paying jobs. One recent local example is Dr. Brazier's robotic training program.
Specifically, to create jobs, not only within the district but within the country, I would demand that a certain percentage of building materials n the upcoming projects be made in America. Within the 25th district I would support community benefits agreements for the OPC and South Works.
In addition one barrier to full employment is the lack of public transportation in underserved communities. I support improvements in public transportation whether that is building new or extending additional rail lines or creating bus rapid transit.
One big shift in the 'gig' economy is that workers may only work part time and thus not be eligible for benefits. Finding ways to enable those workers to have benefits is a complicated process but I can say that I think it is unethical for large companies to hire only part time workers so that they do not have to pay benefits. One notable employer is Walmart. A significant number of their workers are part time and make so little that they qualify for some form of governmental benefit. I do not think that taxpayers should be subsidizing corporate profits. I would favor legislation for employers of a certain size to be required to have no more than 10% of its workforce be part time. I would favor legislation which would allow 'gig' workers to unionize, for example, Uber drivers.
How do you see globalization affecting Illinois? As state representative, how would you propose to create a more healthy relationship with the globalized economy?
Globalization was not the panacea that it was originally sold to be. In order to effectively compete in a globalized economy we need to have an educated workforce and that begins with early childhood education.
I would work with trade representatives to determine what goods grown, produced or manufactured in Illinois could compete in the global market and provide support for those industries.
What are your core beliefs on immigration policy? How do you implement these core beliefs in your role as state representative?
My core belief is that one of the great strengths of this country is the diversity of its peoples. The breath of experience and values of our citizens enhances us all. As a State Representative I would support legislation which promotes and supports immigration.