The first of only two forums for the 50th Ward aldermanic candidates will take place tonight at 7 p.m. at Devon Bank. I have some questions for them.
For Debra Silverstein:
1. Other than the Devon streetscape and the new library, what do you see as your main achievement for the ward over the last four years?
2. In one candidate questionnaire, you said that no zoning change is ever considered in the 50th Ward without community input. Can you recall a single community meeting that you organized that was devoted to a zoning change?
3. What will be your process for determining the fate of the old Northtown Library building? Please be specific.
4. You claim that public safety is the most pressing issue in the 50th Ward. Statistics show that the 50th Ward is one of the safest in the City. Are you overreacting to isolated incidents?
5. There have been two serious incidents in the neighborhood in the past two weeks involving mentally unstable residents. Do you now regret your vote to close the city’s mental health clinics?
6. You are one of 35 aldermen on the Finance Committee. You have never publicly protested Alderman Burke’s way of handling taxpayer business or his recusals because of conflicts of interest with his private law practice. Why?
For Andrew Rowlas:
1. What would be your first priority for the ward if you are elected alderman?
2. Would you join the Progressive Caucus of the City Council or remain an independent voice?
3. Alderman Silverstein has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in donations from local businesses. Would you accept such donations and, if so, would you institute caps on the amount of money you would accept?
4. The 50th Ward is neither politically conservative nor politically liberal but a mix of the two, with a healthy dose of political moderates. How would you effectively represent all the differing political viewpoints?
5. What would be your first priority with regard to economic development?
6. How would you as a former educator support our neighborhood schools?
For Zehra Quadri:
1. You have not reported any donations or loans to your campaign. How is your campaign being funded?
2. The services you offer at Zam’s Hope are available to all Ward residents regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity. How has working with our diverse community informed your view of what this Ward could be?
3. What would be your first priority as alderman?
4. You have said that the ward needs a far broader retailing base. How would you persuade businesses to locate here?
5. What kinds of innovative and creative businesses do you see moving to the 50th Ward if you are elected alderman?
6. Do you support turning the old Northtown Library into a Cultural Arts Center?
For all candidates:
1. One of the dangers of an elected school board is that it could be co-opted by slates of candidates backed by special interests. What would you do to prevent this?
2. The city will have to find $270M in additional funds to make required pension payments this year. Changing state law and/or the state Constitution will require too much time to be an effective solution. What do you think is the single best source of additional revenue? Please be very specific.
3. Would you support a binding referendum to cut the City Council from its current 50 aldermen to no more than 15? Please answer yes or no. Do not explain your answer.
4. Do you agree that an independent, non-partisan commission is the best way to redistrict the City of Chicago after next year’s census? Please answer yes or no. Do not explain your answer.
5. The 50th Ward contains a diverse array of people who tend to exist in ethnic, racial, or religious silos, with little contact between them. What specifically would you do to promote coöperation and interaction between these groups?
6. We are one of the few Wards in the city without a movie theater, a bowling alley, and other forms of recreation. What would you do to bring such attractions to the neighborhood?