Increasing Community Engagement and Political Transparency
Chicago has a history of ignoring the interests of residents and catering to the interests of corporate donors and machine politicians. I plan to make decisions with the input and participation of community members. Democracy isn’t just about making-good decisions; it’s about making decisions in a way that allows as many people to participate as possible. As 48th Ward Alderman, I plan to increase community-engagement in ward-level decisions by piloting participatory budgeting, creating new advisory councils, and investing in greater neighborhood outreach.
1. Pilot Participatory Budgeting
Every year, the city allocates $1.5 million per ward for capital improvements. This money is often referred to as MENU funds.
As Alderman, I will establish a participatory budgeting scheme–like the processes used in wards 49 and 47 –to determine what projects receive funding. Participatory budgeting allows neighbors to weigh in on how we fund infrastructure and other beautification projects. My office will solicit ideas from community members, develop those ideas into concrete proposals, and distribute surveys online and in-person so that neighbors can vote on their favorite projects.
2. Improve political access and governmental accountability
- Require the CTA and CPS to attend regular hearings at City Council – which they’ve routinely refused – to answer critical questions about ghost trains and school funding
- Pass legislation to enhance public financing of elections like New York City so that more everyday people can run for office, not just the well-connected and those funded by special interests.
- Collaborate with Reform for Illinois and Fair Vote Illinois to pass ranked choice voting
3. Community Advisory Councils
I will establish advisory councils on public safety, zoning/development, business, sustainability, and arts and culture. Councils will host community meetings and submit proposals to my office. I will publicly respond to every proposal to explain my decision to accept, reject, or modify the proposal.
- Politicians often focus on the ideas and aspirations of voting-age residents. My experience as a teacher has taught me that young people are a vital part of our community’s future. As Alderman Larry Svabek, I will also convene a Youth Council to encourage participation from our neighbors who are ages 13-18. Over the course of the year, members of the council will work alongside staff to implement a ward-level project.