"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." -Winston Churchill
It is not secret our nation, our state, and the City of Chicago are facing historically difficult times. A stagnant economy is keeping unemployment rates high. We're facing record budget deficits. And if you listen to enough politicians and pundits, you might be forgiven for thinking things can only get worse.
But I refuse to accept that.
I'm no Pollyanna. I understand the road to recovery will be a long and difficult one. But as a city, we've always come away from difficult times stronger, smarter and better.
For years, the Chicago City Clerk's office was a haven for corruption and bad government; one politician after another abused the office, doing just enough for the office to function. And in ordinary times, no one seemed to notice.
These are not ordinary times.
Four years ago, Miguel del Valle took on the monumental task of cleaning up the office, and he did a great job. Today, the Clerk's office is transparent, functional and - most importantly - honestly run.
As Clerk Del Valle moves on, I am eager to take the office to the next level.
To be sure, my first priority will be to ensure Chicago residents and businesses are served competently, quickly and courteously, and that the Clerk's office is the most well run, user-friendly, social media rich and technologically advanced office in government.
But I've never been one to stand still. Playing soccer in high school and college, I always looked to the next move, the next opening, the next play to help my team succeed.
I will use the office of City Clerk to help lead Chicago's recovery. I have proposed a program to allow good corporate citizens to sponsor ads on the backside of the Chicago vehicle sticker. Right now, it's wasted real estate. By charging companies $12 per year for each of the 1.25 million stickers we sell, we could raise up to $15 million.
Under my plan, we would dedicate those funds toward hiring 100 new Chicago Police Officers, and use the rest to bring down the cost of the stickers and create a summer jobs program for at-risk youth.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I should feel most flattered, as mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel recently, um, borrowed my idea two weeks after I proposed it. We will though, have to agree to disagree on how to spend the funds. I'm committed to hiring more cops, putting at-risk youth to work over the summer when they're most vulnerable and giving people a bit of a break on the stickers.
As Clerk, I will use the office to propose legislation to the City Council, and will help regular Chicagoans put their good ideas before the Council. Legislating is a passion of mine, and I am excited about the opportunity to take the mystery and intimidation out of it for people whose good ideas deserve to be heard.
My parents came to Chicago from Mexico more than 40 years ago. Through their example, my brothers and I learned about hard work, perseverance, and the true meaning of the American Dream. We'll come through these tough times a stronger city. I look forward to doing everything I can to make that happen. And I can't wait to get started.
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