City of Chicago City Clerk candidate Ameya Pawar

What’s your background?

I come from a background of social justice. I spent the last seven years in City council and passed over a dozen pieces of legislation all focused on social and economic justice. Raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing sick leave, combating wage-theft, and fighting sweatshops that produced uniforms for city workers.

When I look back, I think, “We guaranteed paid sick leave, raised the minimum wage.” These are essential human dignities. It’s not like people are getting ahead merely because we provided people with some decency.

In my time in office, some very wealthy people use the power of investment to shape policy and financial policy. Why can we do the same? It’s great to pass legislation to guarantee fundamental rights but what about using our investment power to shape a new political economy that addresses income inequality whether that’s attacking student loans, childcare and affordable housing, three issues that address every single community from the working class to the upper level.

In regards to educating residents about the office of City Treasurer and having more input, what are the first steps you would take as City Treasurer?

First and foremost is building on Kurt Summers’ good work. I don’t see the 77-neighborhood initiative have to end with him leaving the office. I can take what he did and scale it. Launching a public bank would require a referendum to change the city’s charter to get legislature in Springfield to get a private bank established.

My first step is to take his framework and go back into the communities and say, ‘I need you to organize with me. Do you want economic and social justice in your neighborhood along with investments in your communities with the dollars regenerated from legalizing cannabis–ravished by the racist war on drugs? Alternatively, do you want to organize with me to launch a public bank? I need you to join forces with the treasurer to get a referendum on the ballot.

I want to shed light on where the things are falling short and why a public bank would make up the difference. I’m an organizer at heart, that’s what I’ve always done in the city council.

That would not change as Treasurer. Making sure that people and communities have a role in the decisions we make is precisely the kind of office we would run.

Where do you stand on the city investing in projects and making sure we have a return on our investment?

We want to make sure that city taxpayers earn money on their dollars. The one thing to be mindful of is, what is the benefit to this city? The overall benefit of the community. Are we continuing to invest in fossil fuel that hurts the environment just because it produces a good performance on the spreadsheet? Alternatively, are we going to investing in green infrastructure so we can create jobs and make sure we’re not hurting our environment? These are the types of initiatives I want to take on.

I’m not interested in doing things the old way. I’m not interested in the status quo or looking at a piece of paper to see if we’re up seven percent without asking, ‘does this company we invest in pollute the environment? If so, are they polluting the environment and preying on communities of color?’ If they are, I don’t care if it’s a solid return on the spreadsheet, I want to figure out how we can get the same return by investing in our communities–this will be my priority.

For more information on Ameya Pawar’s platform, visit: www.