WTTW’s 2018 Voters’ Guide to the Cook County Primary is an online resource designed to inform voters about the candidates running for office in the March 20 election.
Candidates were given two minutes to tell voters where they stand on the issues, why they feel they are best qualified and what they intend to do if elected or re-elected. The messages were recorded at the WTTW studios at no cost to the candidates. The Voters’ Guide is an online version of Candidate Free Time, pioneered by WTTW in the 1992 race for U.S. Senate. This year’s Candidate Free Time is produced with and underwritten in part by the League of Women Voters of Cook County.
About this office: Cook County Commissioner
Seventeen elected Commissioners constitute the Cook County Board, the governing policy board and legislative body of Cook County. The Board sets policy and laws for the county regarding public health and public safety and oversees safety and maintenance of county highways. The Board approves the annual budget and oversees financial integrity of the County.
About this candidate:
Name: Joshua Gray
Residence: Joshua resides in the 5th ward in the South Shore community
Family: Joshua’s parents have been married for 33 years. His wife, Paraisia Winston Gray, is an attorney and they have four children.
Occupation: Joshua is currently the Director of Community Engagement and Advocacy for a Chicago Education Reform Organization.
Political Experience: Former community activist and organizer of the 5th, 6th and 17th wards, Canvasser for the Democratic National Committee, Volunteer for Obama for America, Former Chairman of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and current member of that same board, and local educational advocate.
What is your vision for this office?
My district only covers the Chicago area, because of that I look to leverage the seat of Cook County Commissioner to revitalize our neighborhoods. My key priorities are fiscal responsibility, to increase access to county services in the Chicago area, and juvenile reform. I want more programs that focus on job training and placement for teens, young adults, and ex-offenders. I would like citizens to know more about why they are taxed and where the money goes. Third, I would like to see more people in communities throughout Cook County served by the health and hospital system. Violence and trauma have caused an increase in mental health needs. Those affected by violence combined with an underserved population of people who suffer with mental illness, has increased the number of people who need access to care. I would promote Cook County investing in its current infrastructure to build a mental health facility for teens and young adults.
I would also commit to opening a community office in the district as soon as possible. The district office will have staff members dedicated to serving the community. I will have monthly meetings and host constituent nights. Special community meetings will be conducted to discuss what to do with county money. I will also attend other community meetings and sit on boards for community organizations in my district where appropriate. I will create an online platform and hotline number for residents to quickly give their county concerns and issues.
What is the most pressing issue facing constituents, and how can you help address it?
Chicago has become the city of over taxation. The Cook County Board has played a huge role in this. We have paid heavily into a system that gives the average citizen nothing. I believe in a balanced budget that protects pensions and sustains the county, but not at the expense of programming and resources for the community. If taxes increase so should the services we receive in the community. We have to stop promoting a system that mismanages public dollars, especially when taxes grow and services dwindle for those least able to pay. I will propose the following ordinances:
1) Property Tax Moratorium:
It is time for property taxes to be frozen. The people of Cook County need a break from tax hikes. However, knowing that our property taxes pay for services and projects, there will need to be a time frame attached to the freeze while a committee evaluates the current system, past approaches, and develops a new plan. That plan will then be discussed publicly before the County Board votes on it.
2) Assessor Reform Ordinance:
There have been many calls from the public to make the property tax assessment formula transparent. The Assessor has refused. With this ordinance, it will be mandatory for the County Assessor to make this process public. We will also tackle the issue of property taxes being assessed unequally throughout Cook County.
Hi, my name is Joshua Gray, I am a husband and a father, and I am running for Commissioner of the 3rd District of Cook County. The 3rd District is full of great neighborhoods and wonderful people who are hopeful for a better Chicago.
I grew up in Hyde Park, and a lot has changed in Chicago. It has become the poster-child for over taxation. The recent tax hikes have led to the outflux of thousands of residents who just cannot afford to live here anymore.
We have lost families, businesses, and our sense of community to greedy government waste.
I want to be your Commissioner because I know that the County can do more to help communities in Chicago. I will use my background as a community organizer and CPS educator to improve access to County services. I will continue my fight against gun violence and drugs in our communities. I will remain an advocate for youth employment and help ex-offenders find jobs. I will work with you to redevelop and bring opportunities back to our neighborhoods.
To combat some of the highest incarceration rates among youth and adults in the country, I will introduce strategies to increase opportunities for neighborhood-based jobs.
We can have a better Chicago. A Chicago where we are not taxed out of our communities or our homes. A Chicago where we are sending our kids to programs, and not prisons. A Chicago where we provide services, and not take them away. We need creative and progressive solutions to make our County strong again for the sake of my family and yours.
If you want that type of Chicago, a better Chicago, then in March elect me to the County Board and together we can make that possible.
I am Joshua Gray and I am already working for you.
See more candidates for Cook County commissioner, 3rd County Board District.
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