Suspension of a person’s drivers license for unpaid tickets is currently being used as a debt collection tool. Tickets often go unpaid simply because people lack the financial resources to pay tickets on time. For these individuals, license suspensions only make matters worse.  Many Chicagoans need to drive for their jobs, and even many non-driving jobs still require employees to have a valid driver’s license.

Will you support ending the use of driver’s license suspension as a penalty for non-moving violations, including unpaid parking and compliance tickets? What concrete policy changes will you initiate or support?


DOROTHY BROWN:

Mayoral Questionnaire
One of my first initiatives as Clerk of the Circuit Court was to create a financial compliance unit, whose mission was to improve the collection of fees and fines owed to the Office.  The Unit had the responsibility for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of collection methods and policies and seeking new ways to collect debts. The Unit helped to devise two major collection strategies: instituting a periodic amnesty program and accepting payment plans. As a result of these initiatives, the Office saw a significant increase in collection of debts.  
 
As Mayor, I will ensure that Chicago has a financial compliance unit that monitors and evaluates debt payments and implements innovative mechanisms for residents to pay what is owed to the City, including periodic amnesty programs, waivers of fines based on verified hardship applications, deferred payment plans and other as determined by staff. 

GERY CHICO:

Mayoral Questionnaire

The suspension policy is punitive and cruel and I will end it.


BILL DALEY:

DID NOT RESPOND.


AMARA ENYIA:

Mayoral Questionnaire

Chicago has a history of punitive policies that increase the everyday economic stressors of Chicago’s most vulnerable and widen the wealth gap that only benefit and privilege those with access to power.  

The answer to Chicago’s problem is not just a change in leadership, but a reimagining of the system’s design.

We have the chance to build a Chicago that is equity-forward, a Chicago that actively rejects the idea that citizens should be punished for being poor, a Chicago that protects its people and provides a workforce that allows us all to thrive.

Chicago’s legacy of draconian policing in low income black and brown communities takes a significant toll on the pockets our communities when its predatory practices exploit public safety systems,  hurting black and latinx communities the most.

The majority of Chicago’s bike tickets go to bikers in Black communities like Austin and Lawndale, and when it snows, CPD tickets minority communities for shoveling violations more than all other communities. Almost a quarter of those living on less than $15K a year report having outstanding ticket debt, and are 40 percent more likely to be issued vehicle-related tickets and fines, even though white communities own more vehicles. On top of student loans, medical bills and other debt, ticket-driven debt perpetuates a cycle of financial insecurity for families that are already significantly disenfranchised, pushing them into unemployment, bankruptcies and incarceration.

Chicago is leading the nation in bankruptcies – not because Chicago’s wealthy face higher rates of hardship, but because compliance violations incur the largest source of ticket debt in the city, and that fact is a stain on Chicago’s progress. When people lose their licenses and cars, they lose their jobs, and when people lose their jobs, they lose their livelihoods.

From overwhelming tax costs that eat away at what Chicagoans are able to put on the table at dinnertime, to targeted racist and classist ticketing that place even higher barriers on an individual’s ability to live their daily lives, the draconian nature of Chicago’s fines, fees and forfeiture systems perpetuate disparities in revenue growth and holds us back from thinking of new, innovative ways to keep Chicago’s economy thriving. We need progressive and productive ticketing and fee policies that protect our communities instead of punishing them for being poor. As mayor, I’ll:

  • Conduct an assessment and take a hard look at the impact of Chicago’s predatory tickets, fines, fees and forfeiture system on low income constituents
  • Fight for progressive fee structures that impose lower tax rates on lower-income constituents
  • Replace the existing Chicago vehicle immobilization payment structure with amnesty programs that will allow Chicagoans to repay their debt in public service instead of cash to reclaim their vehicles

BOB FIORETTI:

DID NOT RESPOND.


LA SHAWN FORD:

Mayoral Questionnaire
My mayoral campaign is simultaneously an anti-poverty campaign. Residents without resources are consistently, in a wide variety of categories, penalized. City policies seem to be focused on disempowerment rather than building appropriate empowerment processes. The punitive suspending of drivers licenses is one more example of the spiraling loss of resources that people experience that only accelerates downward. Without a license, one cannot drive, oftentimes this prevents a person from going to work or looking for employment. These are the exact problems I will attack as mayor.

JERRY JOYCE:

DID NOT RESPOND.


JOHN KOZLAR:

Mayoral Questionnaire

We need to hold those who break the law accountable. I would be more than happy to find a way to make sure unpaid parking and compliance tickets are paid, even if it giving the those more time to pay the ticket, or pay a reduced fee.


LORI LIGHTFOOT:

Mayoral Questionnaire
It is unacceptable that our ticketing system is having such a devastating impact on low-income people and people of color. To identify and address racial disparities, I will direct that an audit be conducted into potential bias in ticketing. Additionally, right now people who owe money to the city aren't allowed to work for the city or as taxi or ride-hail drivers. I would end this policy for people whose outstanding payments are below a certain threshold, and would seek to stop the suspension of drivers’ licenses for non moving violations.

GARRY McCARTHY:

Mayoral Questionnaire

This comes down to a person’s ability to pay.  In those cases where the loss of a driver’s license could mean the loss of a job, a home, or a families well being, I would advocate for payment in the form of an appropriate and verifiable community service.


SUSANA MENDOZA:

Mayoral Questionnaire

I support reforming the system by which ticket debt accumulates on Chicagoans. I would explore ways to use technology to build in leniency where it makes sense, so that Chicagoans can be warned about potential violations before they even happen and won’t see continuous repeat tickets for the same violation, forcing some residents into bankruptcy. I would begin by limiting the use of driver’s license suspension and work to eliminate it fully as a penalty for non-moving violations. 


TONI PRECKWINKLE:

Mayoral Questionnaire
I would support a policy that ended suspension for non-moving and compliance tickets and I would support city sticker payment plans and the absolution of city sticker ticket fees once a new city sticker was purchased in full. I would also consider alternatives to cash repayment; like community service, for those individuals demonstrated to be unable to afford even a modest payment plan. Most importantly, as Mayor I will advocate for revenues from other sources like legalized marijuana, a progressive state income tax, and a government-sponsored casino to make the city much less reliant on fines and fees to provide city services. 

NEAL SALES-GRIFFIN:

DID NOT RESPOND.


PAUL VALLAS:

Mayoral Questionnaire
I will stop the general practice of suspending drivers’ licenses, I will get rid of the red light and speed cameras, and I will cap fines so that they do not exceed the cost of the licenses, stickers or tickets. These will be done immediately. 
 
The city’s current policies are the most regressive form of government funding imaginable. These policies currently cause disproportionate effects to low-income communities, including out of control ticketing on city sticker ticket violations and drivers’ license suspensions for unpaid tickets. Fines, fees, and penalties that exceed people’s ability to pay can create barriers to employment and mobility. When people cannot pay fines, fees, or tickets, their credit can be taken away or downgraded, their drivers’ license suspended, making it impossible for many to get a job or find a place to live. Ultimately, this creates less productive citizens and taxpayers. This is a classic ‘lose-lose’ for the City and its citizens.  
 
As mayor, I will call for a standing committee of public policy experts and citizen groups to review all City fee and fine policies and make recommendations. I will also review all current prohibitions on those with debts to the City from being hired, receiving contracts, or securing licenses or grants. I will consider a fees and fines amnesty program that will waive all penalties on late ticket payments. Better options could allow people with debts to the city to conduct business, but then have their debts paid off over time with deductions from city wages or other payments. I will call for a review of the current prohibitions on those with debts to the city from being hired, receiving contracts, or securing licenses or grants.

WILLIE WILSON:

DID NOT RESPOND.


 

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