1. TRANSGENDER HEALTH CARE

In December, the CTA updated its insurance policy to cover transition related surgeries for transgender employees, as required by law.

Would you ensure that every City agency and private city-contractor has a policy that covers transition related healthcare and prohibits discrimination against employees who are transgender? If yes, please explain how you would implement this legal requirement in your first year in office.

VALLAS:

Mayoral Questionnaire
I will sit down with the community and see what it would take to implement it. As someone with a transgender niece and is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ issues, it has always been one of my priorities, well before it became politically fashionable, to support LGBTQ+ rights. I am a strong advocate for equality, I supported marriage equality in 2001, I put domestic partners’ benefits in my school district contracts in 1995, and I will ensure that there is no discrimination in all City departments and in all City contracts. 

2. LGBTQ & POLICE

Members of the LGBTQ community, especially individuals who are transgender, intersex, and gender-nonconforming, and who come from communities of color, report experiencing high incidents of violence and harassment from law enforcement, which erodes trust, and leads to a fear of law enforcement.

Will you pledge to work with the LGBTQ community to update CPD policies that would reduce violence and harassment, and increase trust between the transgender, intersex and gender-nonconforming community and the CPD? If yes, please describe the elements of an updated policy that would reduce the violence and harassment faced by the LGBTQ community.

VALLAS:
Mayoral Questionnaire

The key is to increase training in CPD, and I feel that all City agencies should reflect the communities that they serve. The way to empower the community is to give the community power and nothing gives the community power more than representation. I will ensure that all redundant training includes addressing the issues identified. 


3. RELIGIOUSLY AFFILIATED HEALTH CARE

Religiously-mandated restrictions – such as the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) – tie the hands of health care providers at religiously-affiliated institutions by prohibiting a wide range of services, including contraception and other types of essential reproductive health care.  Patients are harmed when religious restrictions require that their health care providers deny them basic health care services or withhold full information from them.

Will you oppose the extension of TIF and other taxpayer-funded resources to expand and advance health care institutions that deny comprehensive reproductive health care services and information on the bases of religiously-mandated restrictions? 

VALLAS:
Mayoral Questionnaire
In principle, I am opposed to providing subsidies to organizations that discriminate in any way, and that includes religious organizations. It all depends on the conditions. If there is a religious healthcare provider that is doing extraordinary work in the community, especially with the low-income providers, but for specific religious reasons they have some reservations or are reluctant to provide certain services, I will give it some thought and weigh the benefits to determine if there needs to be exceptions. However, I would oppose providing subsidies or support to groups that deliberately discriminate. 

4. BREASTFEEDING IN CHICAGO

A breastfeeding parent who is not able to regularly nurse or express breast milk through pumping is likely to experience pain, discomfort, and engorgement, and may be at risk for possible infection and/or a reduction in the amount of breast milk produced.

Will your administration insure that every municipal building and office is accessible for breastfeeding parents, including a private, non-restroom space for parents who need to pump breast milk and provide staff training on the rights of breast-feeding parents?

VALLAS:
Mayoral Questionnaire
We will provide the facilities for breastfeeding parents. One would hope that there would not be a need for special training on sensitivity towards breastfeeding parents. People will understand the rules, rights, and expectations of the spaces to accommodate these individuals. I have done this before and it did not require special training. As the husband of a wife who breastfed at least two of my children while working, there did not seem to be a need for training.

5. POLICE REFORM

In September, the City committed to reform the CPD by signing an agreement with the State of Illinois.                                              

Do you support the consent decree between the City and the Illinois Attorney General designed to reform the CPD?  What three steps would you take immediately upon taking office to ensure that the decree is effectively implemented? 

VALLAS
Mayoral Questionnaire

The consent decree is here to stay and I will implement it with my appointed Superintendent through the mayor’s office. My goal is to prioritize the restoration of the police department. That means the filling of vacancies, the rebuilding of the depleted Detectives Division so we can get shooters and murderers off the street, and the building of the police department’s infrastructure (meaning the 1:10 ratio of sergeants to officers) and the rebuilding of the training officer infrastructure so that the police department has the proper supervision, because without the proper supervision we cannot have effective accountability. These are all provisions required in the consent decree. 

I will establish the type of training regiment to ensure that there is redundant training on the critical areas identified in the consent decree as areas of training deficiencies that the consent decree is supposed to address. This would include building a modern public safety training facility. 
 
I will also create a pipeline to ensure that the next generation of not only police officers, but first responders reflect the community. That can be done through the school systems’ military academy and ROTC programs, which serve virtually every community, and which serves almost 10,000 students per year (90% of whom are Black or Latino, 85% of whom are low-income). 

6. CHANGES TO CPD

Are there any elements of the consent decree that you would want to change? If so, what changes would you make? 

VALLAS
Mayoral Questionnaire

My public safety plan includes staffing police with enough resources and supervision (sergeants and training officers) to ensure that there is beat integrity, which is critical to effective community policing, and effective personnel oversight and management, which is critical to accountability. My plan also calls for expanded training to address all the deficiency areas identified in the consent decree and to ensure that training is redundant, which is critical to training effectiveness. A special focus of this training will be de-escalation and CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) training when officers encounter individuals who have mental health illnesses. A part of my plan is also to re-open mental health centers and to ensure that there is a community mental health center in every police district and that those centers work with the police department on not only training, but to provide support. My plan also includes ensuring that there is comprehensive and redundant training, as mandated by the consent decree.  Further, properly supplying officers with non-lethal resources such as TASERs and ensuring that police officers have working radios and cameras.  This will additionally contribute to positive change. My plan also includes creating a pipeline so that the next generation of police officers come from the community by partnering with the high school ROTC programs and military high schools. Those schools annually serve a population of 9,000 students, 90% of whom are Black and Latino. I intend that the next generation of all first responders be drawn in large part from the community through those programs. I will also review use of and criteria for the current CPD gang database. 


7. POLICE CONTRACTS

If new contracts have not been negotiated by the time you enter office, what changes would you demand in a new FOP contract in order to advance the police reform process? Do you support the 14 recommendations promoted by the Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability?  

VALLAS
Mayoral Questionnaire

I will do what I have always done, negotiate a contract that is fair and promotes accountability and transparency. I will certainly consider the recommendations that have been made in my negotiations. 


8. LICENSE SUSPENSION

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?

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. 

9. PARKING TICKET DEBT

Implementing “ability to pay” hearings and affordable payment plan terms would benefit low-income Chicago residents by allowing them to keep driving legally and avoid having their cars towed or booted.

Will you support creating a citywide process to determine a person’s ability to pay fines and fees, and adopting standards to ensure that payment plans for people who owe ticket debt must be affordable and accessible?

VALLAS
Mayoral Questionnaire

As I mentioned, I will eliminate red light cameras, stop suspending drivers’ licenses and cap fines so that they do not exceed the cost of the original license, vehicle sticker or ticket. These I will do unilaterally. I will then call for a standing committee to address the aforementioned issues and to develop an ability to pay plan.  


10. WELCOMING IMMIGRANTS

Chicago prides itself on being a welcoming city for immigrants, newcomers and asylum-seekers.  The current policy that the City is defending against a challenge by the Trump Administration is considered inadequate by many, since the policy allows someone to be reported to ICE if they have a prior felony conviction, a criminal warrant, a pending felony prosecution, or they are on the City’s gang database – a database that is notoriously inaccurate.

Will your administration support closing the loopholes listed above, in the Chicago Welcoming City Ordinance?

VALLAS
Mayoral Questionnaire
I support the “Welcoming City” Ordinance. When I was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, we were a “Welcoming School District” and didn’t need an ordinance to ensure that. This means students and their families were provided the same supports and building access regardless of their immigrant status. I will continue that approach citywide as Mayor. I will, however, cooperate with outside agencies on issues related to violent criminals and individuals who pose a potential threat to the community. All too often the immigrant community is victimized. 

11. TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT

Open, transparent government is a critical value in our system of government. Over the past several years, the City has refused to release material about important public policy matters, even when requested through the Freedom of Information Act process.  Such denials have led to litigation and delays in releasing information to the public. 

Will your administration commit to ensuring that city, and all of its agencies, promptly and completely respond to FOIA requests?   How will you act to implement your commitment? 

VALLAS:
Mayoral Questionnaire

FOIA and other sunshine requests are a much-needed component of transparency in our government.  My administration will be transparent and will be compliant and expedient with all requests. I will act through executive order to implement this commitment. The only limitations on that would be the release of personal information on individuals, particularly children. As Mayor, my office will further support, instruct, and empower city agencies to follow suit through providing the adequate resources and training.


12. SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS

As one of the most surveilled cities in the world, Chicago collects vast amounts of sensitive information about its residents every day.  The city employs an extensive, unchecked, surveillance camera system that is utilized by an unknown number of agencies, including CPD.

What specific steps would your administration take to limit and regulate the use, and how will you ensure that the public knows how these systems work, and what technology is being utilized? 

VALLAS:
Mayoral Questionnaire
As technology changes and the need for information evolves, it is important to create an institutional process in order to assess and evaluate information related to surveillance. I will create a mechanism, a permanent standing committee, that includes broad representation of organizations, like the ACLU, that oversees the efficacy, impact and utilization of data. The impact on citizens is our foremost concern. 

13. FACIAL RECOGNITION

The use of facial recognition technologies by law enforcement has been criticized because those systems have been shown to be susceptible to discrimination and bias.

What steps would your administration take to limit and regulate the use of facial recognition technologies by law enforcement and private businesses?  How would your administration generally support or oppose the use of facial recognition technology in Chicago?  

VALLAS:
Mayoral Questionnaire

The standing committee should review the use of the equipment and assess if the technology being used is inadvertently discriminatory in practice. Technology will evolve and having a standing committee will allow groups to oversee, weigh in and provide input to current and future technology. This is so that our standards and policies can evolve while ensuring the protection of peoples’ civil liberties and human rights. 


14. SURVEILLANCE DATABASES

Do you believe in using civilian oversight to ensure transparency and accountability for police practices, including the use of automated and surveillance technologies for law enforcement decision-making? How would you incorporate civilian oversight and ensure transparency in CPD’s use of automated and surveillance technology?

VALLAS:
Mayoral Questionnaire
I support a hybrid police board, a board in which the majority of its members are appointed by the mayor and are appointed based on their public safety expertise, but I also believe that the board should have representation from the community, individuals who are chosen by the community. This will ensure that police oversight will have both expertise and transparency. 

 

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