Participatory budgeting has proven to be an effective form of engagement in some wards, and this is an approach that should be expanded. Last year the city held a series of hearings on school closings at which residents made impassioned and well-reasoned arguments against closures that were overwhelmingly ignored – and often poorly attended – by school officials. This is unacceptable. City departments routinely ignore the strong sentiments of majority stakeholders in communities on development issues, and advance planning scenarios that directly contravene or flat-out ignore the sentiments of local residents. This, too, is unacceptable. I do not naively assume that neighborhood residents will always reach consensus on local civic projects or development plans, but city officials deny the insights that local residents have to offer – and often undermine the wellbeing of existing residents – when the concerns of community members are simply ignored. I am committed to an open, transparent, responsive system of public input and review for development projects, budgeting and civic planning across the city.
I have proposed having “Ward Nights” in every Ward across Chicago when I am mayor. As I have said previously: The 5th Floor will belong to all of us when I am mayor.