To help 5th Ward voters see where their candidates stand on the issues most important to them, the Herald put together a questionnaire composed of questions from readers about topics like parks, public safety and housing.
See Marlene Fisher's answers below. See how other candidates answered here.
Marlene Fisher is a University of Chicago information technology (IT) administrator and a Greater Grand Crossing-based community organizer.
After a decades-long effort by community members to preserve Promontory Point’s limestone stair-step revetment, the park has been granted preliminary Chicago landmark status. Do you support making Promontory Point a city landmark?
In the November 2022 general election, seven precincts across the 5th, 7th and 10th wards all voted overwhelmingly in favor of an advisory referendum to stop cutting down trees in Jackson Park and prohibit cutting any at the South Shore Nature Sanctuary. Do you support the preservation of the area tree canopy as outlined in the advisory referendum?
Yes, I support the preservation with a few updates. There is no mention of replanting trees or moving trees that are young enough to be moved.
How would you work with the Chicago Park District to ensure that residents have a say in the planning process for these parks?
We have experienced how short sighted the park district can be about progress especially surrounding Soldier Field. The park district may favor history to spite modernization based on some of the latest decisions. I would like for the Park District to have forward thinking policies around development. I want a seat at the table.
Do you support the proposed overhaul of the public golf courses in Jackson Park and at the South Shore Cultural Center?
I support economic development for the Jackson Park and South Shore community. I understand the proposals and we have opportunities to work together on a solution. The OPC is coming, and we must work together as a community to reap all the benefits while not locking neighborhoods out of future economic opportunities or the decision-making process. While a golf course may not be the best use of the land based on the destruction that has been predicted. We can work together on making the park a space the community can continue to enjoy.
Would your campaign accept contributions from real estate developers and area property management companies?
Yes, the implication with this question is that by taking the money that I would be complicit in their business practices. To compete with the texting, mailers, and manpower from well-funded campaigns, I would accept contributions from those companies. As alderwoman, I would meet with them and review their policies and outline issues that adversely affect renters in the ward as documented in the South Shore CBA.
Would your office involve constituents in decision-making, regarding things like development, housing or other ward issues? What would this look like?
Yes, and those special interests’ groups must look at the decisions as a whole. We cannot deter investment or import poverty into our communities. We need to work together on solutions that make our neighborhoods housing and commerce destinations. We cannot support the unhoused and then not want them in the community.
Will you hold regular constituent meetings?
Yes, quarterly in each community. The ward website would be updated with information that community can use and disseminate to get resources they can use.
In November 2022, the Bring Chicago Home Ordinance was indefinitely tabled after 25 aldermen — Hairston among them — skipped out on a City Council meeting during which a vote would have been taken on making the ordinance a referendum on the 2023 municipal ballot. If it passes, the ordinance would impose real estate transfer taxes on properties worth $1 million or more to pay for more city services for people without housing. Would you support such an ordinance?
No, the mayor allocated $200 million for unhoused. The last thing we need to do is give businesses an excuse for not developing in the Black community.
As real estate investors buy up more property around the mid-South Side, residents are increasingly concerned about gentrification and displacement. How would you work, locally and in City Hall, to slow or stop the displacement of middle- and lower-income tenants and homeowners?
I would increase affordable housing to 30% for new development, rental assistance, homeowner/condominium assistance for repairs, fully fund the roof and porch program, property tax reform. Fully support seniors. Financial literacy programs for recipients of grants for rental, homeowner, and condominium assistance.
In November 2021, the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Coalition and other local groups announced their demands for a South Shore CBA. Among these demands are protections and subsidies for both homeowners and tenants, as well as the bookmarking of all city-owned vacant lots for affordable housing development. Would you support such an ordinance?
Other, the ordinance needs a few tweaks and imports poverty. I realize it is a negotiating tactic however the demands need to be tweaked. For example, we want to allocate 30% of the housing to low income. I am in favor however not 100% of city owned property to low-income residents.
The University of Chicago has long been a major landowner on the mid-South Side, operating hundreds of off-campus apartments and a rapidly increasing abundance of commercial property. How would your office work with the U. of C.? Do you have any demands for the institution?
I would demand more job fairs and opportunities for community input. While we do not have the resources of the university, I think the university has done an excellent job of being more transparent based upon the history. U of C can have a direct impact on educating small business owners in Grand Crossing, Woodlawn, and South Shore by having a version of the Polsky Center available to them. While they are not working on series A funding however the university can partner to have an entrepreneurial center in South Shore and Grand Crossing. Small business is not just restaurants. There is so much untapped potential of the residents and we need structural help.
How would you improve public safety in the ward?
Public safety is the number one reason there is no investment in South Shore and Grand Crossing according to residents and business owners. We must have patrols and walking patrols and involve the community. The community must collaborate with the police. Phone trees and regular block club meetings or resident meetings so that everyone knows what is going on. I am in favor of violence prevention programs, like the Violence Interrupters and funding after school programs. We must get parents fully on board and provide transportation.
What are the most pressing issues for 5th Ward residents?
Public safety: I would address public safety by requesting more of a physical police and private security presence. Police on bicycles or walking, engaging with the community. The community policing approach works. While we cannot stop random crime, we can lower our risk factors. Residents also have a stake in safety by reducing their risk factors and to look out for others by using bystander intervention strategies. Working together as a community improves public safety.
Affordable housing: increase affordable housing to 30% for new development, rental assistance, homeowner/condominium assistance for repairs, support for seniors, fully fund the roof and porch program, property tax reform. Financial literacy programs for recipients of grants for rental, homeowner, and condominium assistance.
What makes you the best fit for City Council service?
I have 25 years of demonstrated leadership experience. I am present, I listen and advocate for the voiceless. Being alderperson combines my skillset as a technology professional and a community activist. Problem solving, teamwork, strategic thinking and project planning are skills that I have perfected in 25 years as a professional problem solver leading and working with diverse stakeholders; in public and private sectors. I can and will work collaboratively with other alders to move the ward and Chicago forward.
For more information on Fisher, visit: fisherfor5thward.com
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