Otis Percy, 46, is running for the 37th Ward aldermanic seat as a write-in candidate. He could not be reached for an interview before we published our special election issue earlier this month, so we’re publishing excerpts from an interview we conducted with him last week.
What are your opinions on school closing? Charter school? Student-based budgeting?
There isn’t any legitimate reason to close schools in Chicago. How can the city council allocate some needed resources and funds from a broken school system that’s underfunded, that they’re responsible for defunding?
Charter schools are private entities that calculate our children as inventory. School-based budgeting is a flawed system implemented to account for school closure. When they’re defunding programs that keep the attention of troubled youth, as well as academic scholars.
If alderman, would you push for the implementation of community benefits agreements with respect to the redevelopment of closed school buildings in your ward?
Yes, we need to access and utilize these empty schools for the benefit of our communities. Re-investment is a must due to the lack of many different resources.
Are you in favor of an elected school board? If so why?
100 percent. The responsivity should fall on the parents to pick the school board since their children will be attending. The obligation should be to the citizens, not to the mayor or City Council. The City Council’s responsibility is to fund the school’s budget.
Do you think that city grant programs like Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program adequately address the lack of access to capital the plagues most small black-owned and women owned businesses on the west-side?
No, the evidence is in the lack of black businesses, not a lack of potential economic opportunities. How are we living in a major city, but also living in the middle of the desert (i.e. lack of food, lack of essential black businesses, etc.)?
What are some other small business-related ideas you may want to implement as alderman?
Offer free monthly workshops building business plans, management training, financial planning, etc.
Crime and Policing
Are you in favor of the proposed police and fire training facility that’s to be constructed in the 37th ward?
No, we need to utilize resources and funds to offer needed opportunities that have shown better results to the issues faced in the 37th and wards mirroring the same issues.
Although, proper training of police in areas predominately of color needs the same type of training they receive in a predominately privileged areas. This doesn’t constitute a viable reason to neglect other areas of needed resources. The answer is better training, not a better facility.
How would you help bridge the chasm between residents and police officers in the ward?
By make everyone accountable for their actions. The alderman must stand with the people, just like the police must serve and protect everyone the same no matter what type of elements are plaguing the streets.
Jobs and Income
Are you in favor of $15 minimal wage?
Yes. The City Council, state, and federal governments should always adjust wages to suit the cost of living.
What are some ideas that you may bring as alderman for increasing residents’ access to job opportunities?
Always utilize space. My aldermanic office in the ward will allocate space for a ward Community Center, that’ll have free job placement, afterschool programs, free workshops for training in trade as well as computer science.
Do you believe that the current youth programming that exists in the 37th wards adequate? How or Why? And if not, how will I improve the situation?
No, you must be able to reach the youth. If we really want to combat the negative influences, we must listen to the loud voices that are screaming what’s needed. Not just giving whatever they think they want.