Willie Wilson was a Chicago mayoral candidate in 2015 and a U.S. presidential candidate in 2016.
He was born in Louisiana into a family of sharecroppers and later moved to Chicago in 1965. Wilson became one of the first Black McDonald's Restaurant owners in the United States, owning five stores. He founded the Grammy-winning Willie Wilson Productions, where he produces and hosts the long-running, syndicated gospel music television show Singsation! In 1997, Wilson founded Omar Medical Supplies, an international business that distributes disposable products for use in medical, industrial and food-service areas.
Windy City Times: With so many candidates running for mayor, what makes you more qualified to hold this office than the rest of people in the race?
Willie Wilson: I have a heart for the people and will always put people above politics. I have never been a part of the corrupt political machine and have chosen to self-fund so that I will only be accountable to the people, not big corporation or political parties. Until there is real equality and inclusion of opportunity and resources, our city will continue to be split down the middle, violence will continue running rampant, shady politicians will continue running amuck and our debt and taxes will be out of control. Inclusion is the key. Together is the way.
WCT: Expand on your 10-point plan for Chicago and why you chose those issues.
WW: I have listened to the people. Taxes, schools, economic development, justice-system reform, red-light cameras, legalizing marijuana, ending corruption, safe neighborhoods and ending police brutality and violence are all things that resonate among the people. No new taxes. Only new revenues. When economic development is up, violence comes down.
WCT: Where do you stand on the Ed Burke situation?
WW: I have only met him once. Bill Daley, Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza and Gery Chico have been a perpetual part of machine politics, have direct ties to Burke and have received support from him one way or another. Now they are distancing themselves. That is hypocritical. They also need to be investigated and Burke should resign. He has been there far too long and is a good example of why we need term limits in Chicago.
WCT: I see that you back an elected school board. What will that board be tasked to do? Tell me what your ideal Chicago Public School ( CPS ) system would look like.
WW: Yes. I will have an elected school board that works with community-based parent organizations and CPS staff to determine the proper number, size, location and staffing of each school and in each community. I am not a supporter of charter schools. I believe taxpayer money should be used for a single, unified and equal system of education for all students.
WCT: I noticed you did not have anything about the LGBT community on your campaign website. What is your vision for the LGBT community going forward?
WW: LGBT people, like every other group, should be equal, have the same access and feel safejust like every other group and community in Chicago.
WCT: Would you advocate for mandatory LGBT-inclusive education at all Chicago Public Schools starting in middle school regardless of what happens on the state level?
WW: If city council votes in favor, I will also. The same applies for the pending Illinois state law. We do have to respect the legal process and abide by the laws of the land.
WCT: Are any of your campaign staffers openly LGBT?
WCT: What is your position regarding funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and education?
WW: It should be increased so every neighborhood will have the same access. Until there is real equality and inclusion of opportunity and resources across Chicago, we will continue to be a Tale of Two Cities.
WCT: How will you address the city's continued infrastructure problems? Blighted and underserved areas?
WW: Communities with resources, thriving businesses and jobs have low crime rates. Those who do not, have higher crime rates. The TIF Plan was designed to stimulate growth and improvements in these so called blighted communities. We must get back to the original goal of this program and use these designated funds for which they were purposed.
WCT: What is the ideal minimum wage for the city of Chicago?
WW: We need a living wage. Fifteen dollars per hour is still not enough to survive in this city.
WCT: How would you address the budget shortfalls that do not include additional regressive taxation and fees?
WW: Clean up city corruption that costs taxpayers $500 million annually. Reduce and eliminate many of the nickel-and-dime taxes like the bag tax, the city vehicle sticker, outrageous parking fines, fees and red light cameras. Establishing new revenues such as my proposed citizens-owned casino, the legalization of marijuana and the reopening of Meigs Field will bring in a surplus of $2.5 to $3 billion annually.
WCT: What are your recommendations for better relationships between the police and citizens they serve, including people of color and the transgender community?
WW: I intend to divide the city into four separate police districts and form community-based citizen committees in each district to help choose the best police leader for their district. This will bridge the gap between citizens and police to work together and develop a trusting, collaborative process that should lead to solving current issues and deter and decrease future crime.
WCT: What kind of relationship do you plan on having with the city council, Gov. Pritzker and state legislators?
WW: As an international businessman, I get along and negotiate with a diverse array of people every day. I plan to do the same with both city and state elected officials.
See www.williewilsonformayor.com/ .