LINCOLN PARK — The rise of megamansions, who should be the next mayor, taxes, cops on the street, marijuana and the state of public schools have been the topic of debate in the 43rd Ward.
All four candidates for alderman in the ward participated in back-to-back debates this week, providing a glimpse into their platforms.
Here's an overview on some of the major topics discussed at the debates:
Jen Kramer, a Navy Pier director, former coordinator under Mayor Daley in Office of Special Events: Called the current community policy strategy "lackluster," and called for a greater partnership between the neighborhood and police. Kramer boasted the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Jerry Quandt, marketing consultant, former member of the Lincoln Local School Council: "The biggest challenge we have in the 19th [district] is we are down more than 300 police officers."
Quandt called her an increase in police in the ward.
Michele Smith, current alderman: Said policing strategies have been working in the ward, such as a "lock your door" campaign, community roll call, a Clark Street beat cop and lack of crime at North Avenue Beach.
"The results have shown that crime has significantly been down in our ward."
Caroline Vickrey, former lawyer in Illinois Attorney General's Office, Oz Park advisory board: Called for more police in the ward and stated that the combination of the 18th and 19th Districts has lead to a lesser police presence.
"We spend $100 million a year on overtime and we need to reevaluate that."
Elected School Board
Kramer: Does not support an elected school board.
"I think it's the responsibility of the mayor to steer education and I feel as though the mayor has done a great job with the appointed school board."
Quandt: Called for a hybrid model with both elected and appointed members.
"There needs to be a voice of the people in that process."
Smith: Does not support an elected school board.
"The buck has to stop somewhere and accountability has to be clear."
Vickrey: Does not support an elected school board.
"I don't agree with a lot of decisions that were made by the school board, but I do not think that politicizing that board is a good idea for the city."
Who Are You Voting For in Mayoral Race?
Kramer: "This race is going to be a very exciting one for the mayor and for other candidates, but I have a bigger race to worry about and that's my own."
Quandt: "Still assessing the mayoral candidates."
"To answer bluntly, I wish Rahm was a lot more fiscally responsible. I wish he was more like [former New York mayor] Bloomberg."
Smith: "I support Rahm Emanuel for reelection and Mayor Emanuel supports me."
"I like a lot of things the mayor has done. I disagree with some of them."
Property Tax Increase to Solve Fiscal Crisis
Kramer: Would do "anything possible to not raise property taxes."
"I was a city employee and I am very aware of the fact there are other cuts that can be made," while acknowledging they would be "very painful."
Quandt: "It's going to take a lot of hard work. It's going to take a lot of collaboration. It's going to take solutions that probably will entail increasing taxes in some form or fashion."
Smith: "Unless we have pension reform, our property taxes will inevitably go up 60 percent. This is not something that we can beat around the bush. We must have pension reform."
Vickrey: "Everything that we want to do and want to pay for, we can't do it."
Vickrey said "all options are on the table."
Medicinal Marijuana Dispenseries
Kramer: "I certainly acknowledge that medical marijuana is a very much needed thing....I don't truly believe that they belong in our business districts."
Quandt: Acknowledged the need for new revenue sources, said that he would address location of possible dispensaries with the community.
"I've heard from young families who are concerned not about the medical marijuana component, but they are all very well aware that we are not far away from jumping to recreational.”
Smith: Opposed to dispensaries on commercial streets, voted against ordinance to allow dispenseries in business districts, but supports medical marijuana.
"Lincoln Avenue is home to DePaul University. We have so many kids and I voted against the ordinance."
Vickrey: "I don't believe these dispensaries belong near our churches, schools and I don't believe they belong in a retail setting."
Children's Memorial Development
Kramer: "Let's get on with it." "This is a long time coming."
Quandt: Suggests need for addition of an amenity similar to the French Market or Eataly to create a "heart" of the neighborhood.
"I think it should be more than just the crossroads."
Smith: "We planned very carefully as a whole ward about this development."
"The whole aim of this development was to create a new neighborhood crossroads."
Vickrey: Blamed Smith for "stagnation" and delay by tying the overcrowding situation at Lincoln Elementary to the development of Children's Memorial Hospital.
"Looking backwards, which I don't like to do, the Children's Memorial Hospital process was just bungled from the very beginning."
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