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SBC wants to get your local alder candidates on the record about livable streets issues

Will these City Council seats be filled with alders who support sustainable transportation? Photo: Daniel X. O’Neil via Wikimedia Commons

This year’s contested race for Chicago mayor has gotten a lot of attention. Streetsblog Chicago is planning on reporting on all of the mayoral candidates' transportation platforms. So far the site has covered Kam Buckner's, Robert Earnshaw's, Jamal Green's, Lori Lightfoot's, and Willie Wilson's positions.

But there are also 210 candidates for alderperson on the ballot. While these races get less publicity, they still matter a lot – and Streetsblog is working to get every candidate on the record. Every alder hopeful has received a questionnaire with seven key questions about sustainable transportation and affordable housing. In early February, we’ll be reporting on their responses, ward-by-ward. In the meantime, we’d encourage readers to let candidates in their ward know that you’re paying attention, and hope to see answers that support safer streets and more livable neighborhoods.

When it comes to sustainable transportation and affordable housing, City Council races can matter just as much as the race for mayor. Not only do alders have the ability to block the mayor’s agenda, but they also have significant control over projects in their ward, including virtual veto power on things like bike lanes, new construction, and affordable housing. But given the number of candidates and the relatively small size of each individual ward, it’s hard for voters to make informed choices. That’s why Streetsblog has put out the same set of questions for every candidate to answer.

This matters for two reasons. First, it’s good for voters to know who they’re voting for. And many candidates will claim to support affordable housing, or safer streets, but not back that up by endorsing specific strategies, like equitable transit-oriented development or protected bike lanes, that can actually make those outcomes a reality. Second, these responses make it easier to hold candidates accountable once they’re elected. Studies of officials show that, contrary to popular belief, campaign promises really aren’t all empty – candidates really do attempt to keep the commitments they make on the campaign trail.

So here are the questions we’re asking every candidate running for City Council:

    1. Ward:
    2. Candidate Name:
    3. Candidate Website (Optional):
    4. The CTA has faced ongoing concerns about reliability and safety. Ridership still hasn’t recovered from the pandemic and ended 2022 at just 57% of 2019 levels. What actions would you take to improve CTA performance and ridership?
    5. In 2022, there were more than 31,000hit-and-run crashes in Chicago, and 31 pedestrians and 8 cyclists were killed on city streets. Do you believe the city should do more to protect pedestrians and cyclists? If so, what additional traffic safety measures would you support in your ward?
    6. In 2022, the Chicago Department of Transportation added just 7 miles of protected bike lanes, falling short of its own goal. Do you believe Chicago should add more protected bike lanes, and if so, what streets in your ward would be good candidates?
    7. Equitable Transit Oriented Development can help ensure more Chicagoans can benefit from living near CTA stations and high-frequency bus lines. Do you believe more should be done to support development (including of affordable units) near transit in your ward? If so, what specific actions would you support?
    8. The City’s Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance allows homeowners to add a coach house, or backyard apartment to their property. This can help increase affordable housing options and reduce displacement, but the program is currently limited to five pilot areas. Do you support expanding the ADU ordinance citywide?
    9. 2- and 3-flats are Chicago’s most affordable housing stock. But in many neighborhoods near CTA and Metra stations, particularly on the North, Northwest and Southwest sides, 2 and 3-flats are illegal to build due to single-family zoning rules. Do you support legislation legalizing 2-and 3-flats citywide?
    10. Please add any other positions you have on transportation or related housing issues that you think voters should know about.

Candidates have already been contacted, and responses are due by January 25th. They can also email responses directly to Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield at jgreenfield[at]streetsblog[dot]org. Note that in order to verify authenticity, responses must come from a campaign website domain, or the email on file with board of elections.

When you hear from candidates, tell them that you want to see their views on the record and ask them to fill out the Streetsblog questionnaire. You can also find and contact the candidates in your ward directly. A full list of candidates with emails is available here.

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If you appreciate Streetsblog Chicago's livable streets coverage, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us raise $50K by 1/31 to fund our next year of reporting. Thank you.

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