1) What experience makes you the best candidate to serve as trustee?
I have been active in progressive politics for over two decades and participate in several civic organizations where I have honed my leadership and negotiation skills. Through my labor union background, I have gained knowledge on how to bring about change through honest dialog and I have an appreciation for working people, fair practices and economic justice. I am a renter, union activist and LGBTQ community member, a tireless worker and knowledgeable leader who will make sure the interests of all Oak Park’s residents are considered and represented.
2) What do you consider the top three issues of concern in Oak Park and how would you address them as a trustee? These are the three election cycle issues dominating the local conversation: Property taxes, Affordable Housing & Equity.
Property Taxes: I will only support a balance budget that doesn’t shift expense into future budget years
Affordable Housing: Work with state officials to pass an equitable rent control legislation.
Equity: Work with the 30 plus community groups already championing this issue to create a policy that reflects the needs of all Oak Parkers.
3) What is your position on affordable housing in the village?
I support affordable housing
3a) Is more or less needed? As long as we have homelessness, poor people, working poor, seniors and other traditionally marginalized people then there will be a need for affordable housing options.
3b) Why? Because housing is a human right and social justice issue. As a community, we should provide housing options and related relief to all who need it, giving every community member the opportunity to live a better life.
3c) How would you address this as a trustee? I support rent control legislation. Until rent control is a legislative reality, I envision housing that is spread throughout the village using existing rental property. I want a policy that assesses developers the market rate value of a unit, if they choose to pay fees in-lieu of providing affordable units. Then those funds could be used to subsidize affordable rental housing in existing properties.
4) How would you work to ensure greater equity and diversity in the village?
I often say representation matters. People need to see others like them when they enter a room. They want to know that the elected and appointed leaders can understand their experiences as Oak Parkers. So if elected I would be first openly gay African American man on the Village Board. Hopefully my presence can elevate conversation of diversity and inclusion in village government. I would work to be to highlight what is possible and positive about the village to surrounding communities. As a Trustee I would continue to work with local community experts who know equity issue better than me to help guide my decision make and policy advocacy.
5) What should the village do to help ease the tax burden in Oak Park?
Village leader must adopt a balanced budget that doesn’t shift costs into future budget years. Hold the line on new spending and commit to making service cuts. These ideas are not revolutionary, but they are realistic and practical.
6) What would you do to ensure greater cooperation between the Oak Park’s various taxing entities?
If elected I enter the cooperation conversation without the baggage and history that other have from their previous attempts of trying to undermine each other. I would seek suggestions for areas of cooperation from the Village Manager’ staff and seek allies within other taxing entities who are open to coordination, cooperation and collaboration. I would also actively promote the collaborative work being done in IGOV so the community can see we are serious about cooperation.
7) What are your thoughts on transparency in the village?
The Open Meetings Act should be the first rule for guiding transparency in government. During the decision making process, I would keep this question in mind: “Would community members want to about know this? Also can I legally share it?” Then, I would share as much as possible via social media , email or e-newsletter.
7a) Is more or less needed or is the village currently striking a good balance on transparency? In my opinion many civic minded community members have lost faith in village government. Village leaders are not operating in an open and honest way that gives the public confidence in the decision making process.