The Westside Branch of NAACP held a candidates forum, Feb. 3, at the Jackson Square Center, 5130 W. Jackson Blvd. The municipal general primary election will be Tuesday, Feb. 27, though early voting began on Feb. 5.
Candidates for mayor, city clerk, treasurer and alderman were invited to present their positions as well as take questions. Mayoral candidates present for the forum were William “Doc” Walls and Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy A. Brown. The incumbent, Mayor Daley, did not attend. Each candidate was given five minutes for opening remarks.
The forum was coordinated by Mary Gardner and moderated by Iola McGowan. Second Vice President Donovan Taylor also moderated.
Here is some of what was said:
Mayoral candidate Dorothy Brown: “I’m running for mayor because I want a city that works for all of us, not just some of us. I’m running for mayor because I’m concerned about children and the educational system. I feel I have the kind of qualifications and credentials to be the mayor of the city of Chicago. I have worked in a lot of different organizations, helping an African-American gentleman actually start an accounting firm, working for a big accounting firm in the 1980s, working for First National Bank of Chicago when it was in existence, being the general auditor for the Chicago Transit Authority, and then, of course, being the clerk of Circuit Court of Cook County, the second largest court system in the world-a hundred million-dollar budget, 2,300 employees, and you know what? We didn’t just win the [office of] clerk of the Circuit Court. We have run it effectively and efficiently. We’ve received national attention for some of the things we’ve done. [We were] featured in the 2005 HP Magazine for the technology advancements we’ve made in the office. [We] improved customer services, operation efficiency, employment development and training and financial accountability, bringing back $16 million for some of our special purpose funds, recently letting the county board know that we would increase our revenue by $10 million to help them with the county budget.”
Brown also discussed corruption in City Hall, hiring of minorities, a separate office of professional standards, a code of ethnics, position papers that she issued on affordable housing and an economic development plan for everyone in the city.
Mayoral Candidate Bill “Doc” Walls: “I’m Bill ‘Doc’ Walls the most qualified candidate for the mayor of Chicago since Harold Washington. I was born and raised right here in the city of Chicago, graduated Horace Mann Elementary, Tuskegee University, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Chicago Kent College of Law. I was in my second year of law school back 1982 when Harold Washington announced his candidacy for mayor. I knew I had to get involved. [I] helped organize the Lawyers Committee for Harold Washington, served as president of Law Students for Harold Washington, served as his assistant scheduler and then became his director assistant. In that capacity I traveled with him locally. nationally and internationally. I helped organize the Department of Streets and Sanitation, Water, Sewer, selected department heads. [I] interviewed all department heads alongside Harold Washington. I’ve worked hand-in-hand with the City Council, was the liaison for the African community on the northwest and southwest sides of Chicago. I was also the person Harold Washington turned to whenever someone asked a question. Harold would say, “There is no school for mayors” and all the while he was taking me to school. I’m competent, I’m knowledgeable, I’m experienced and I’m fully conversant with the function, operations, and intervals of Chicago city government. I know city government, and I know how to build a city government that works for people in the city of Chicago who are most in need.”
Walls said he is focusing on three things: public safety, education and jobs. He wants to make sure the police and fire department is ethnically diverse, making sure people who deal with immediate needs of citizens reflect all ethnic groups. His goal is a police department that is more pro-active, addressing needs before they become major. He wants to end Renaissance 2010 because he thinks it is weakening public education. And he guarantees that every Chicagoan who wants a job will have one under his administration. He will also end privatization.
Following the mayoral candidates were candidates for city clerk: Miguel del Valle, Jose Cerda III and Diane Jones. The city clerk’s responsibilities include maintaining official records of city government and issuing all business, liquor and other city licenses.
Jose Cerda: “Part of why I’m running is because of my experience working with President Clinton. One of things I learned is that government is what you make of it. It isn’t just the position that you have, it’s the values you bring to government. I think our clerk’s office has great potential to do much more than it does, and that is why I am running. I think I have the biggest and the broadest vision. Its primary function should be open and accountable government. It should be fighting scandals and involved with jobs protection. A lot of things get passed in City Council with promises of jobs. The clerk could serve as the independent balance to help track some of those jobs.”
Miguel del Valle: “I’ve been the city clerk for two months. I was appointed by the City Council. When I talk about my past, I just don’t want to talk about my 20 years as state senator, serving a legislative district on the near Northwest Side. I want to talk about my past two months. First thing that I did was eliminate the use of a Chicago police officer to guard and drive the city clerk around. Previous clerks had as many as three police officers, which was an abuse of taxpayers dollars. A city clerk should not be afraid of the voters. Second, I instituted a policy that people have access to information regarding the working of the City Council. Changes I’ve made: You can now find the status of a [legislative] bill. We will have a totally open student internship program. For too long it was a secret. I’ve put out notices and press releases to every university. I will not accept campaign contributions from anyone doing business with the city, any employee or the clerk’s office. If you’re going to set a standard, you have to set the highest possible standard. If we’re going to regain confidence in an office that has been tarnished by corruption in the past, then you’ve got to set the highest standard. I’ve already done that.”
Diane Jones: “I’m a native resident of Chicago. My background is in business development and community development. I am the president and CEO of Successful Independent Network. We provide business services to emerging and existing businesses. I am the former executive director for the Madison/Western Chamber [of Commerce]. I am the chief executive assistant to Commissioner Patricia Horton, and I have been engaged and involved in the community for several years. The main thing I’m concerned with is the cost of the city sticker. Chicago is by far the highest, and we have to look at how we’re charging the residents for services. [Costs] are going up, nothing is going down. People have to be able to afford to stay in the city-the price of housing, utilities, gas prices, everything is high. We have to have a livable wage. Let’s fight together to get rid of the Denver Boot. We need new and emerging leadership.”