Issues

Jobs & Employment                     
  1. Re-train our Workforce: In times of economic distress, the United States, Illinois, and Rockford have not done an adequate job of creating a favorable environment for work during the 21st century.  As we look to other successful areas that have dealt with similar issues, Germany is a country that succeeded in implementing state-sponsored re-training efforts to match the skills needed in that country to those of the people.  Through these re-training efforts where government created a jobs-friendly environment, Germany today boasts a high-skilled manufacturing sector where many automobiles and mobile devices are made.  We can keep falling for conservative myth-making about tax-cuts for the rich or we can implement what we know works.  I'm for replicating success.
     

  2. Train Workers During Unemployment: Analyzing the successes and failures of other states and cities in combating unemployment is a useful endeavor.  Georgia Work$ was a program to train workers in new skill sets during periods of unemployment in the state of Georgia, of course.  As we know, during periods of unemployment not only does a lack of paycheck hurt, but failing to refine skill sets also hurts; unemployed workers are doubly penalized.  If the State of Illinois again fails to address the needs of our community, then we must.  Too many success stories have occurred in America when you give a worker a chance.  The opposition tries to tell us to "get a small loan from your parents to start a business" or that they had a small loan of $1 million to advance a business venture.  If we want to make our town work, we can do without the patronizing advice of billionaires; we can make Rockford work for us.
     

  3. Retain a Knowledge-based workforce: A persistent problem in Rockford has been our "brain drain."  We have some of the best high schools in the state in Auburn High School (being a proud Knight myself) and Boylan Catholic.  If we can work toward more four-year educational opportunities for our knowledge-based workers, we can grow the knowledge-based workforce.  We've all heard of the multitude of unfilled jobs because of untrained workers; we can change that by more heavily investing in education instead of tax breaks and tax credits that target the established wealthy.  Let's keep Rockford's local talent in Rockford.
     

  4. Expand Rockford's Opportunity for Tourism: The great thing about tourism is outsiders come to spend their money right here in Rockford!  When private developers see an economic opportunity to invest in Rockford, inducing more tourism, we all benefit through tax revenue.  The ultimate partnership between public and private sectors is allowing government to work for the neighborhoods and the citizens, while allowing private entities to work toward profits that end up benefiting the whole of Rockford.
     

  5. Set a City Minimum Wage: When city government can lead on economic issues, the entire city benefits.  A minimum wage is a moral imperative.  For so many of our fellow Rockfordians living on the margins, a minimum wage could be the boost necessary to improve lives-- the very function of government.  Contrary to Republican myth-making, minimum wages do not kill scores of jobs, but enhance standard the living.  Let's support the worker who needs a helping hand in an increasingly unequal economic climate.  Let's act on behalf of the middle and working classes.
     

  6. Improve Infrastructure in Rockford: Roads in the 2nd Ward could use a upgrade.  Bridges, like the Jefferson St. Bridge, are in need of repair.  Let's put the workers to work and partner with state and federal agencies to upgrade Rockford.  Our city will never realize a resurgence if infrastructure is substandard.  Infrastructure is a prerequisite to progress.
     

  7. Export More Rockford Products to Other Cities, States, and Countries: Again, the old business adage of "Buy from friends, sell to strangers" applies here.  In working toward a more diversified local economy, the Rockford area can expand businesses that sell cars to Iowa, shirts to Chicago, or refined steel to Canada.  By creating and inspiring a entrepreneurial spirit and support of labor, we can again be a city of makers and do-ers.
     

  8. Expand Broadband Connectivity: To connect in a 21st century economy, we do need 21st century infrastructure, and that includes enhanced speeds and expanded areas for broadband accessibility.  Other cities, like Chattanooga, have embraced technological accessibility and have begun to realize the fruits of their labor.  If other cities can embrace technological infrastructure and realize greater technological innovation, Rockford surely can as well.
     

  9. Reduce permit barriers to allow local entrepreneurs to thrive: I don't think I'm alone in lamenting the fact that there are too many KFC, Taco Bell, and Applebee's chains and not enough Primo's, DiTullio's, and Gulotta's independently-owned restaurants.  When we reduce permit barriers to business ownership in our city, we allow the entrepreneurial spirit of so many residents to take off, and all of the revenue from independently-owned ventures stays in Rockford.  Let's build a pride in Rockford and make it a place for the energetic do-ers and makers.
     

  10. Embrace our proximity to a world-class city: One of the great assets for growing cities and regions is proximity to resources.  Rockford's proximity to Chicago is not a hindrance, but a help.  We should be improving transportation means to Chicago, and the improvements to Interstate 90, before being jammed up by Gov. Rauner, are a great start.  The Chicago Rockford International Airport, which recently hosted Vice President Biden, is another asset to Rockford.  By improving and enhancing our opportunities to partner with Chicagoland, we improve and enhance life for the 2nd Ward and all Rockfordians.  In this case, as the adage goes, the rising tide lifts all boats.