About the Candidate
Name: Joe Dunne
Date of Birth: 1972
Occupation: Vice President of Real Estate Development, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp.
Political Experience: I was elected to the Local School Council at Helen C. Peirce Elementary School for three terms, from July 2014 to December 2020.
Political Party: Democrat
Why are you running?
The 48th Ward is my home. I was born and raised here and I’m raising my family here. I am the third generation of my family to live in Edgewater and I have deep roots in the community. I have a passion for our community and I care about my neighbors. I know that the ward has a long tradition of community involvement and of neighbors working together and I’ve spent years volunteering in various capacities to help make the ward a better place for all. I want the ward to remain a safe and welcoming place for my children to grown up in, for Jennifer and I to grow old in, and for new neighbors to make their home.
I believe we need an alderman who knows the community and puts the community voice at the center. We need an alderman who understands how to bring people together to find solutions. I’ve successfully done so in my work and in my service at Peirce School.
This is an uncertain time for the city and the ward. We are facing challenges in addressing public safety, rising property taxes, affordable rental housing, and economic development. We need steady leadership to make sure the ward remains a safe and welcoming place for all residents, and we need to work together to ensure that happens. I have the skills, experience, and track record to deliver results for the voters of the 48th Ward.
What does this office do well, and what needs fixing?
I believe that Alderman Osterman has done a great job engaging his constituents, allocating menu funds, and gaining support from city, state, and federal representatives for projects benefiting the 48th Ward. I am interested in exploring participatory budgeting. I think that this could be a good mechanism for additional community engagement.
What is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?
Public safety is the most pressing issue facing the people of the 48th Ward and something we need to address as a community. Community residents are concerned about safety on our streets and on the CTA. There is a perception that the police are not as present as they were in the recent past.
As alderman, I will work to ensure that the 48th Ward has the appropriate allocation of resources to address public safety. I will push for the reinstitution of foot patrols in our commercial districts, including the Bryn Mawr Historic District, and for officers to consistently work in the same neighborhoods and on the same beat. We need our police officers to know the community and for the community to know the officers working our streets. I will also push for increased security on the CTA, particularly at our train stations and platforms.
What specific steps would you take to ensure your office is accessible and responsive to your constituents?
I will communicate with my constituents via a weekly newsletter, through the existing block club networks, and via direct interaction and participation at community events. Regular town halls and community forums will also be an important part of my communication. I believe that effective communication requires more than just pushing information out via emails and newsletters, and so I will also have in-person meeting and events to make sure we are pulling in residents who may not be technologically proficient.
Do you believe in the tradition of aldermanic prerogative, which gives each City Council member the final say on issues in their ward?
I believe in a community-informed process for reviewing and approving development proposals and requests for re-zoning. In my view, Aldermanic Prerogative is important in ensuring that the voice of the local community is included in decision-making. I think that an open and transparent process is the right approach to balance Aldermanic Prerogative and the need for more residential units in Chicago.
Should the $1.9 billion budget for the Chicago Police Department increase, stay the same or decrease?
Funding for the Chicago Police Department should remain consistent, because it is critical to improving public safety in the ward and the city. We need to bring staffing levels back to where they were in 2019, prior to the significant workforce reduction from retirements and resignations. We need to have an appropriate staffing level, so that officers are not required to work 12-hour shifts and have days off cancelled on a regular basis. We need to provide the appropriate allocation of resources to all communities in the city and to implement the reforms required by the federal consent decree.
Should the city raise the Real Estate Transfer Tax on properties sold for more than $1 million to fund programs to help unhoused Chicagoans?
There is clearly a need for additional homeless housing and social services and the City has not done enough to support the families and individuals living in the tents in the parks and under viaducts. I am supportive of finding revenue to address this critical need and would support placing the question on the ballot.
Should the city open and operate mental health clinics to provide free care to Chicagoans?
Yes. We have an obligation to care for all residents of the City of Chicago. I believe the City needs to reopen the shuttered mental health clinics and provide adequate staffing at all clinics to address the needs of the community.
How should Chicago build the 120,000 homes it needs for low- and moderate-income Chicagoans?
The preservation and creation of new permanent affordable housing has been my life’s work for the past 16 years. I have a deep understanding of what it takes to successfully finance, build, and maintain affordable housing. I believe we need to advocate for increased, dedicated funding streams for affordable housing including, but not limited to, a new state affordable housing tax credit. We also need to work with our local congressional representatives and senators to advocate for increased federal resources to support affordable housing.
We need increased funding for and availability of project-based rental subsidies. One of the most difficult elements of preserving affordable housing is the fact that operating costs outpace income over time, leaving older properties with depleted reserves and little cash flow. This condition is exacerbated in properties that provide critical housing for very-low and extremely-low income residents (50% AMI and lower). Project-based rental subsidies — including funding for the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund – are an important resource for preserving existing affordable apartments. These subsidies are also a critical component in meeting the need for permanent supportive housing, which is badly needed to help address homelessness.
I believe that we need a multi-pronged effort to create new permanent affordable housing in the ward. City-owned properties, such as the 48th Ward Streets and Sanitation yard and the properties acquired by the CTA along Broadway, present opportunities for Equitable Transit Oriented Development, including 100% affordable rental apartment buildings. However, tax-credit and government funded development moves slowly and takes years to successfully finance and construct. We need to also work with private developers across the ward to ensure that the 100% of the units required under the Affordable Requirements Ordinance are built on-site. These units are able to be delivered much quicker than publicly-funded housing, and therefore are important in meeting the immediate need for affordable housing. I will work with the City and private developers to identify ways to incentivize the extension of affordability provisions beyond the 30 years required by the ARO.
What do you see as potential solutions to address the number of shootings in Chicago?
The long-term answer to reducing violent crime in Chicago is to focus on the redevelopment of the neighborhoods and residents who are most impacted. Significant portions of the South and West sides of Chicago have been chronically disinvested for decades. These communities have a lack of quality housing, underperforming schools, and little economic activity. As an affordable housing developer — having worked in Lawndale, Woodlawn, West Garfield Park, and other communities — I know that changing these conditions requires sustained investment. Simply building more housing, or recruiting business investment, is not enough on its own. We need to work with the community to build local outreach efforts for violence interruption, economic opportunity and job training.
As alderman, I will support funding for non-profits and community organizations that are engaged in violence reduction efforts at the local level. I will work with the Department of Housing and the Department of Planning and Development to ensure that the city’s community investments are aligned to have the greatest chance for long-term success.
I will also support implementing the University of Chicago Crime Lab’s Workforce Allocation Model. Changing the way we police our neighborhoods requires that we have consistency in the allocation of resources, consistency in the implementation of the federal consent decree, and consistency of leadership throughout the department so that officers on the front lines have clear direction.
Should the city do more to encourage residents to live close to where they work and shop by building dense multi-unit apartment complexes near transportation hubs?
Yes. Transit Oriented Development is an important tool in creating healthier, walkable, and active communities. Allowing greater density near mass transit stations can help reduce reliance on cars and promote walkable communities, both of which are good for the environment and promote public health. In my role as Vice President of Real Estate Development at Bickerdike, I have recently completed the development of the Lucy Gonzalez Parson Apartments, an Equitable Transit Oriented Development located at the Logan Square Blue Line Station. I have also previously developed the Wilson Yard Apartments and Wilson Yard Senior Apartments, which are located adjacent to the Wilson Red Line Station. We have a shortage of affordable housing in Chicago and an overall shortage of housing in the market. Allowing greater density at strategic locations along transit routes is an excellent step at incentivizing the creation of more housing.
Should the city prioritize the construction of bicycle lanes and encourage people to use bicycles to commute to work?
Yes. The 48th Ward has been a leader in the city on the installation of bike lanes and the adaptation of our streets to provide safe access for all modes of transportation. According to data compiled by Bike Lane Uprising, the 48th Ward is among the top three wards in the city with the most miles of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways. As Alderman, I will continue to prioritize bike safety and complete streets. I will work to establish a network of interconnected bike lanes in the Ward, including critical east-west connections, constructing protected bike lanes where it makes sense.
What steps should the city take to prevent Chicago’s shoreline from eroding further?
Rising lake levels are having a dramatic impact on the buildings along Sheridan Road. While there is little we can do in the short term to address rising lake levels, there are things we can do to limit the long-term impact of rising lake levels. In order to address the risk of flooding in the short term, we need to shore up the existing breakwaters and sea walls. Now is a perfect time to take preventive measures to protect the shoreline, as the lake level is lower than it has been in recent years.
As alderman, I will work with our congressional representatives to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers completes its assessment of the shoreline condition and that federal funding is provided to implement improvements to the revetments.
Long-term residents of the area know that the lake level rises and falls in cycles, so we know that it will be high again and we need to be prepared.