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Chicago is about to choose its next mayor – and 14 candidates are vying for the job. To help voters better understand the candidates’ positions on specific issues facing the city, we conducted a short multiple-choice survey. Bill Daley, Garry McCarthy and Neal Sales Griffin did not participate.

Choose a topic below or scroll to read all the candidates’ answers.

Ethics

At least three members of the Chicago City Council are under federal investigation: Ald. Ed Burke is battling a criminal attempted extortion charge; the FBI reportedly built a hefty case against outgoing Ald. Danny Solis before he agreed to wear a wire; and Ald. Willie Cochran is scheduled to go to trial in June on corruption charges. There are now widespread calls to clean up City Hall. How are the candidates for mayor promising to do that?

What type of ban on outside employment for aldermen do you support?
  • A full ban
  • A partial ban
  • I don't support this proposal
What kind of mayoral term limits do you support?
  • Two terms
  • Three terms
  • I don’t support mayoral term limits
What kind of aldermanic term limits do you support?
  • Two terms
  • Three terms
  • Limits only for committee chairmanships
  • I don’t support aldermanic term limits
Should aldermen control zoning in their wards?
  • Yes
  • No
Who should make zoning and licensing decisions?
  • City Council members
  • The administrative branch
Do you support a ban on Chicago politicians’ family members getting city jobs?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Only for top policy positions

Education

One of the next mayor’s first tasks will be to negotiate a new contract with Chicago teachers; the current agreement expires at the end of June. The Chicago Teachers Union has already laid out 75 demands, including a call for 5-percent raises. And while Chicago’s mayor currently appoints Chicago Public Schools leadership, state legislators are considering changing that law so the school board would be an elected body.

What kind of school board do you support?
  • Elected school board
  • Hybrid school board
  • Appointed school board
Are you in support of teachers getting raises in their next contract?
  • Yes
  • No
  • It depends
Do you support a longer school day?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support full-day kindergarten?
  • Yes
  • No
What type of charter school changes would you like to see?
  • More charter schools
  • Fewer charter schools
  • I think the current number is about right

Pensions

Chicago residents are already paying more than their suburban neighbors on 911 fees and property, water and sewer taxes in order to help pay down pension debt. But a pension cliff still looms, with the city expected to have to raise its contribution to pension funds by nearly $1 billion by 2023. Outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel has laid out some controversial ideas. Among them: changing the state constitution so the city can reduce benefits, building a casino in the city, and issuing a pension obligation bond. How are the candidates proposing to shore up these funds?

Do you support raising property taxes to help close the pension gap?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support hikes in any other taxes/fees to help close the pension gap?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support pension obligation bonds to help close the pension gap?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support a change to the Illinois Constitution to end 3-percent compounded cost of living adjustments (COLAs)?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support taxing marijuana sales to fund city pensions?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support a city casino to fund city pensions?
  • Yes
  • No

Crime

Chicago Police Department statistics show that homicides and other crimes are down, thanks in part to more officers on the streets and gun detection technology. But violence and police-community relations are complex, pressing issues. A just-approved consent decree will bring reforms to the police department – the agreement sparked by the 2014 murder of black teen Laquan McDonald by a white Chicago police officer – but Chicago’s police union opposes that decree. And the next mayor will have to negotiate a new contract with the union. What will the next mayor do to curb crime and bridge tensions between residents and police?

Do you support building a new police and fire academy?
  • Yes
  • No
Would you hire more police officers and detectives?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support raising property, real estate, or sales taxes to help hire more police officers?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support tougher sentences for illegal possession of weapons?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support tougher sentences for failure to report lost or stolen weapons?
  • Yes
  • No

Transportation

Chicago has one of the nation’s largest public transit networks. But the network’s infrastructure is aging, and transit agencies say they’re underfunded. What do the candidates for mayor think is “fare” when it comes to the CTA?

Do you support building more bus rapid transit lanes?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) to fund transit upgrades?
  • Yes
  • No

Finance

Chicago’s current budget contains no brand-new taxes (though residents are paying higher taxes due to phased-in hikes from prior years). Still, the city has a structural deficit. And enforcement of the Chicago Police Department consent decree, pensions and other costs will add to the spending tab. A look at the mayoral candidates’ fiscal forecasts.

What action will you take on TIFs?
  • Continue to use TIFs
  • Use TIFs only in blighted areas
  • End all TIFs
What tax or taxes would you support raising to help fund city government? (Check all that apply)
  • Property tax
  • New Chicago income tax
  • Expand Illinois sales tax to include services
  • Soda tax
  • Financial exchange tax
  • Other
  • We don’t need additional taxes

Development

From Avondale to Woodlawn, Albany Park to Washington Park, Chicago’s a pulsing city of neighborhoods. But the city faces challenges over affordable housing, gentrification and a declining population. How might proposed mega-developments like Lincoln Yards and “The 78” contribute to these problems – or help solve them? And that’s only if they’re approved – some of the candidates for mayor want to block the developments. Here’s where they stand.

Do you support the $800 million TIF for the Lincoln Yards development?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support the approval of zoning changes for the Lincoln Yards project?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you support using TIF funding for Related Midwest’s development project, “The 78”?
  • Yes
  • No

Learn more about each mayoral candidate, and see all their responses to each survey question.

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