Ivan J. Capifali – 38th Ward Aldermanic Candidate – Response to Community Questions

Ivan Capifali. Initiating Change.

Who are you?

My name is Ivan Capifali and I am currently circulating petitions for the aldermanic seat of the 38th Ward.  I am a 45-year-old father of three amazing children. My son Ivan (23) recently graduated from the University of Southern California.  My son Giovanni (17) is a senior at Saint Patrick High School and my daughter Giuliana just turned 5 and started Kindergarten at Disney II. 

I have served the City of Chicago for more than 20 years in critical public service leadership roles with multiple departments including the Department of Environment where I helped keep our residents safe from led and other contaminants, and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection where I currently help ensure businesses operate safely.  At each position serving the city, I have taken on more responsibility to help Chicagoans. Every day I work hard and dedicate myself to make a difference for the community. I have gained experience in public administration, economic development, budget management, compliance and enforcement, program administration and business development. Now it is time to implement these skills as I pursue my life goal of serving in public office, making decisions on the issues that matter to the 38th Ward.


 Why are you running for alderman?

As Alderman, I will keep up with the demands of the ever-changing needs of our community. I will bring new ways of thinking to the table as I work hard to solve complex issues in the community and ensure our Ward’s impact is felt citywide. Now is the time for a new voice to represent our historic and thriving community. We need representation who will always stand up for what’s right and never give in to political pressure or influence from special interest groups and lobbyists. I’m running because our Ward needs a person who can represent each and every unique voice in our continually growing community. The Great 38th needs a leader who can embrace the changes that we will inevitably encounter as a community and a city. I’m running because old politics are exactly that: old, outdated, and overdue for a fix.

Now is the time for the 38th Ward to be represented by someone ready to see change as an opportunity, not an obstacle. I’m running because I know that current leadership has not found effective solutions for complex issues like stagnant economic development, lack of effective policing. Leadership hasn’t even delivered on simple solutions like fixing dilapidated parks and providing quick and thorough response to requests for service from our residents.  I’m running because I believe in transparency and our community needs to know where our tax dollars are being spend and have a powerful voice in decisions that impact our lives.


I will use new technologies and strategies to include ward residents in the decision-making process in the ward, including an opportunity to be heard in real-time. We’re not saying “yes” to anything unless we discuss it as a ward first. 

This is not a partisan race. I will represent the 38th Ward entirely regardless of political affiliation.  I strongly believe that an elected official must be a people’s person, not only politician. I’m running because I know I can improve your life.  I’m running because we need a leader who reflects the will of the ward, not just in appearance, but more importantly in spirit.


What is your educational background?

I attended Northeastern Illinois University where I completed degrees in Environmental Science and Criminal Justice. Public health and safety issues are very important to me and I want to keep our Ward and our city as safe and clean as possible.


Why should people vote for you?

This is a time of big change in our City. This is an opportunity for the Ward to ensure there is someone standing tall for the 38th in City Hall when every issue comes to vote. You should vote for me because I have the experience necessary to run this ward. I have not been sitting back playing politics for most of the last decade. Instead, I have been on the front lines of city service, ensuring issues are resolved in the community as they arise. Together, you and I will make decisions about our neighborhood and I will deliver services promptly and expeditiously as I have been doing for decades as a city servant. I will bring solutions to your problems and provide the direction and the leadership that this ward needs. I will fight to make changes that enrich the quality of living in this community and to address the issues that have been in limbo for so long.  I too have children and I want them safe. I will fight to get more police so that my young daughter Giuliana and all of the kids in the Ward can play outside worry-free. Because I’m also tired of vacant store fronts, dilapidated parks and unfair hikes in property taxes.  You should vote for me because I know we can do more when it comes to education and because I also care about senior citizens that deserve respect fair treatment. I also believe in animal advocacy and promoting responsible pet ownership so that our pets don’t end up at the City shelter.   You should vote for me because together we can focus our efforts on tackling the real issues in the ward. I believe in neutrality and at the end of the day, my primary goal is to do what is best for the people of the Ward.


Would you vote to raise property taxes?

Chicagoans are facing the aftermath of the largest tax increase in history and I can’t justify asking the all of the working class families that make up our Ward for more in taxes. We can’t afford another tax increase, especially when we are not sure how is that going to benefit our community.  Another tax increase will be devastating.


Would the candidates make Forest Preserve Avenue a complete street?

Yes, I like and support the idea of making FPA a complete street. Complete streets improve safety, economy and provide better access to all users.  The new school will bring more foot traffic, bicycle traffic and vehicle traffic the area.  If elected, I’ll try to mirror the approach used for Oak Park Avenue. The entire area is undergoing a major face lift and we must accommodate the change in the traffic patterns.


Do the candidates support using City resources to implement Trump’s immigration policies?

I do not support using City resources to implement federal policy. Immigration is a federal issue. This City is currently facing major problems and our resources need to stay here. We need better schools, better response to citizens’ requests for help, better housing, better infrastructure and we need to make sure our retirees receive what they have earned. I do not feel comfortable being represented by someone who Fox News supports for views and votes on legislation that negatively impacts the LGBT community and U.S. citizens of foreign heritage. Trump’s immigration policy impacts communities in damaging ways well beyond any federal immigration agenda.


What are the ideas and plans to give Harlem Ave a face lift and fill the empty storefronts?  Would the candidates do anything to improve the attractiveness, business appeal, and walkability of the business district along Harlem Ave.?

Empty storefronts on Harlem Avenue and Irving Park Road are an eyesore to the community and decrease property value.  Retail is in crisis across Chicago. That is a known fact, but there are many programs available to boost economic development in neighborhoods that are unknown to many.  For example, The City of Chicago, Neighborhood Business Development Centers (NBDC) program provides grants to Chicago-based chambers of commerce and business support organizations, to assist in the development of small businesses in Chicago. It’s the job of elected officials to work with the local chambers of commerce to deliver this message to those interested in opening a small business.  In this era of internet shopping, we must think outside the box. We cannot allow blight to take over our iconic streets.


Will Community Policing be brought to our Ward? Not just vehicle patrol but foot patrol? I heard that was taken away for budget purposes? But yet there’s one officer per car responding to calls?

Increase in crime is an issue in our ward. I recently attended a meeting where it was said that our ward was considered one the safest wards in the City. And although this may be true, we are seeing more break-ins, shootings, car theft, and gang activity parts of the ward.  If we don’t gain control of this situation, it will get out of hand.


 I will push for community policing.  Our elected officials need to be persistent and demanding to get this done. I personally like the bicycle patrol approach. Police officers on bicycles patrolling our streets is one strategy among many where we can efficiently use our resources to make the community safe.


Do any of the candidates have a plan to help bring some sort of relief from all this new airplane traffic going right over our homes?   After 10 pm and before 5:30 a.m. and these planes are going right over the house?

This is an ongoing problem. If elected, I’ll work with the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission to keep our residents informed about the free noise abatement programs available.  The community needs to continue to complain and actively attend community meetings to stay informed of the progress that has been made in this area.


Today’s world with its tech advances in navigation also drives traffic into the residential streets in an attempt to relieve pressure on the main streets. Will any of you address this?

I’ve done research on this issue and it’s creating a problem all over the nation. Communities are working with their elected officials and organize against this. If elected, I will work with the City’s Department of Transportation to brainstorm solutions to this problem. I believe in preserving the sanctity of a residential neighborhood.


What ideas do you have on handling the looming pension payment crisis?

If elected, I will get in front of this immediately. The pensions problem can be a tough issue to solve. Some potential solutions are:

·       Better oversight. The fact that the pension money is being pilfered and misused is a sign that nobody is watching.

·        More transparency and accountability. Retirees are the last to find out that pensions are in danger after the is announced by the media.  

·       Implement better and more attractive pension packages and market it to the new workforce.  Workforces are changing and fewer people are opting for traditional forms of employment where they could get access to benefits that typically include pensions.

·       Implement a Funding Risk Mitigation strategy to deal with an aging workforce, negative cash flow, longer life expectancies.


Do you support an elected school board?

Yes, I support an elected school board because it will make it members directly accountable the public and because it would be more diverse. CPS’ policies need to be reviewed and updated.   An elected school board will weed out people who have conflicts of interests. Chicagoans want it. In 2015, this proposal received 90% of the vote. If elected, I will push for its implementation.


Will you be a rubber stamp for the strongman/woman mayor or work to empower the city council and bring reform to Chicago?

I will work to empower the City Council and bring reform. If elected, I will work for you and we will make decisions together. I will push for change where is needed and oppose resolutions that will not benefit you.


Which candidate will you be supporting for mayor and why?

With so many candidates throwing their names in the hat it’s hard for me to make a decision at this point. I will work with the person that is willing to bring reform and work for the people.  We need the same qualities in a mayor that we need in choosing our alderman: a new person who is forward thinking, has business savvy, knows how to make city government work, and someone who is committed to shepherding change where needed. 


How is your health? Should the public know anything as to something which may prohibit you from serving the whole term? If so, what is the concern? If you need to step down, who would you back to replace you as alderman?

I can understand how this is a very important question to our community because my understanding is that if an alderman cannot finish his term for health reasons otherwise, the people of the ward have no direct say in selecting a replacement. Not even the alderman who is resigning can handpick a replacement. My understanding is that under the law, it would be up to the mayor. So if that scenario was to play out during the upcoming term, the 38th Ward would be represented by a new alderman they don’t know, picked by a mayor they don’t know. That’s doesn’t sound like a recipe for success to me.

I am personally in great health and voters should have no hesitation or concerns about my physical and mental ability to represent this community for the entirety of the term. I enjoy exercising 4-5 days/week and maintain healthy eating habits. In the extremely unlikely event that a health issue would impact my ability to fully serve the ward, I would work to ensure the Great 38th has a voice in helping to choose an equally capable successor who shares the same values and concerns of our community. But I am fully committed to finishing what we start here together and if I didn’t feel fully able to serve you, I would not have decided to enter this race.