Belmont: Lakeview Action Coalition Hosts 32nd Ward Forum

 

Belmont Stop IconBy Julian Zeng
The Red Line Project
@RedLineProject

Posted: Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011

With the election a week away, the four candidates running for 32nd Ward alderman participated in a forum that focused on small business and healthcare Tuesday night.

The forum, hosted by the Lakeview Action Coalition at Theater Wit, was originally scheduled to be held on Feb. 1, but was postponed due to the blizzard. 

Incumbent Ald. Scott Waguespack and his three opponents -- Brian Gorman, Bryan Lynch and David Pavlik -- each responded to questions written by members of the Lakeview Action Coalition board and 32nd Ward audience members. The forum was moderated by Carol Small.

David Pavlik arrived late to the forum because of what he said was a family emergency.

One of the over-arching issues was how the candidates planned on helping small businesses established in the 32nd Ward grow and thrive in a tough economy, as well as how they would protect existing jobs.  

Waguespack was first to respond to a question about employment presented by attendee Sylvia Sepulveda, saying it is important to “streamline the process” of establishing small businesses in the 32nd Ward. 

“The faster we get businesses in here, the faster people can get to work,” Waguespack said.  

Gorman cited the enormous budget deficit of up to $700 million the city of Chicago is currently facing when addressing how to increase revenue without raising taxes. His main solution was to encourage the availability of small business, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the jobs in Chicago.  

Gorman added that there are things the City Council can do to improve the situation without taxing or cutting the budget. 

“It’s using the city government to make our lives better: to increase revenue, to create jobs, and to bridge the budget gap,” he said.

Providing sufficient income for people to cover the cost of living is a pressing issue that faces not only the citizens of the 32nd Ward, but the entire city of Chicago. Lynch said he foresees a great increase to the cost of living in the city, for which he offers must be resolved in creative ways to reduce the costs. 

“Working men and women should be properly compensated for the work that they do," Lynch said. "Where we need to look at instituting a policy to bring up the minimum wage is perhaps at larger scale employers who have greater economies of scale. This would allow the employers to absorb more of the deficit easier than “a ma and pa sandwich shop or another small business owner.”

Pavlik stressed that the 32nd Ward must “incentivize small business to create jobs for us, and good paying jobs ... Saying things like ‘if you hire x number of people, we will give you property tax relief, or relief on your fees and licenses.’ ”  

Pavlik also referenced his previous position as deputy director of the Illinois Department of Transportation when discussing the possibility of offering transportation cost rebates to those that fall into a certain income bracket.  

Waguespack directly challenged Pavlik’s stance on incentivizing businesses in the first and only tense moment that arose from an otherwise civil forum.  Waguespack alluded to Pavlik’s current job as state budget manager, and asserted Pavlik has been supportive of the new income tax which has made life difficult for many businesses and lower income citizens.

Ald. Scott Waguespack greets Robert Kazluski

Incumbent Ald. Scott Waguespack greets Robert Kazluski
after the 32nd Ward forum, hosted by the Lakeview Action Coalition.
(Photo by Julian Zeng)

Pavlik responded with a metaphor to his current position as state budget manager. Pavlik made a comparison to someone working at a Jewel-Osco, where the price of a loaf of bread was raised.  He asked the audience whether or not the cashier or store manager was to blame for the price hike.

He compared this situation to the government’s bill to raise prices passing in the House of Representatives and Senate, naturally without unanimous support or backing. 

Although the candidates’ ideas on employment issues differed somewhat, their stances on housing and healthcare were similar.  All four candidates support subsidized and affordable housing staying in the 32nd Ward.

The candidates listened intently to an account given by Li Papineau, a member of the Lakeview Action Coalition’s Board of Directors.  Papineau described her own struggles to gain proper healthcare at a time when she was very sick; with those experiences ingrained in her mind, she looked to the candidates to address the poor track record of obtaining health insurance and ensure access to the uninsured.

Waguespack said he would work with the offices of hospitals and make sure “they’re providing the health care at the level that they should be, not just what’s on the books, but what is right for the people here in the ward and throughout the city.”  

Lynch admitted the healthcare system is not something people should take for granted, as he himself fell into the trap of believing health insurance “was a relatively easy thing to get.” 

Lynch said he believed the city needs to play an active role in making sure health services are readily accessible to everyone, no matter their income level or education base.

“It would be great to stand here and say as an alderman that I could do something to make sure that you’re gonna have health insurance coverage, but I don’t think anyone in this room would think I’d be speaking genuinely,” he said.

At the end of the forum, the audience members were able to briefly meet and greet the candidates.

The general municipal election will be held on Feb. 22.

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