Alderman Nugent, Dasgupta discuss variety of issues at 39th Ward candidates forum
by BRIAN NADIG
Public safety, homelessness and other issues were discussed at a Jan. 19 forum for the two 39th Ward aldermanic candidates, incumbent Samantha Nugent and Denali Dasgupta.
“It’s the number one issue across the city,” Nugent said of public safety.
Crime can have a negative impact on the economy because fewer people will visit the central business district if they do not feel sale. “This money supports us,” she said, adding that tax revenue from retail sales and hotel stays helps fund many safety and social programs.
As alderperson, Nugent said that she has advocated for more police officers in the 16th (Jefferson Park) and 17th (Albany Park) police districts and sought funding for technological resources, including the installation of police observation device cameras and license plate readers.
Nugent said that in January both districts received eight additional officers and that during the last two years POD cameras have been installed at the Milwaukee-Elston, Cicero-Peterson and Pulaski-Bryn Mawr intersections.
Nugent said that her and her staff regularly attend police beat meetings.
Nugent added that she has supported budgets which include increased funding for mental health services and co-sponsored an ordinance calling for more time off between shifts for overworked officers.
Dagupta said that some of the surveillance technology being used to addresses crime raises issues of “civil liberties”.
“I don’t think the way to keep us safe is to treat us all like criminals,” Dasgupta said. On her website, Dasgupta calls for the cancellation of the city’s contract for ShotSpotter technology and the elimination of the gang database.
Dasgupta said that while police resources are being “stretched thin,” the “true costs of policing” must be examined, including the cost of lawsuit settlements. She said that she supports the “Treatment, Not Trauma” campaign, which calls for a citywide emergency crisis, non-police intervention model.
Dasgupta said that she herself is a victim of violence and that connecting people to the community can help victims and make for safer neighborhoods.
Nugent said that she introduced “participatory budgeting” to the ward and that the program has funded a variety of infrastructure projects, including murals, school and park improvements, and pollinator gardens. She said said that it is a democratic decision-making process because residents come up with the funding proposals and chose the winners through a community vote.
Nugent allocates $500,000 of the ward’s annual $1.5 million in discretionary funds toward participatory budgeting. The remaining $1 million is reserved for side-street resurfacing and emergency repair projects.
Dasgupta said that as alderperson all of the ward’s discretionary funds would be part of the participatory budgeting process.
Dasgupta criticized Nugent for not attending a special City Council meeting on the proposed “Bring Chicago Home” plan, which calls for increasing the real estate transfer tax on properties worth more than $1 million to fund programs for the homeless. The meeting was one council member short of a quorum.
Nugent said that under the plan the transfer tax would increase by 253 percent, from $3.75 for every $500 of the sale price to $13.25 for every $500, calling it a “huge” increase for individual home and commercial property owners.
As alderperson, Nugent said, “There is no role I won’t do. …. I wake up every morning to serve the residents of the 39th Ward.”
Whether bringing a meal to a resident who just lost a loved one or listening to residents at a block party about the crumbling infrastructure of their alley, Nugent she and her staff attend a variety of meetings and community events throughout the ward in addition to holding “open ward nights” to stay better connected with residents.
Dasgupta said that if the ward’s current administration was more collaborative and transparent, “I’d be working for the alderman instead of running against her.”
Dasgupta said that Nugent’s record “speaks for itself” and that she hopes the ward’s constituents will vote for change on Feb. 28.
The event was co-sponsored by the Brynford Park Community Association, the Forest Glen Community Club, the Hollywood-North Park Community Association, the Mayfair Civic Association, the North Mayfair Improvement Association, the North River Commission, the Old Irving Park Association, the Sauganash Community Association, the Sauganash Park Community Association and the West Walker Civic Association.