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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Sneyers prepares for '15 mayoral challenge
by Matt Simonette

This article shared 6200 times since Sun Jul 27, 2014
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Dennis Sneyers said that he has been tempted to run for public office since he was a kid, but not for an office as big as the one he'll be vying for soon.

"I always thought that some day I might run for Congress or something like that," Sneyers said. "I never thought that I would decide to run for mayor of America's third largest city."

Sneyers, who has worked in the financial services industry for several years and is openly gay, will formally announce his intentions Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. "I've been thinking about this for the last couple of years. What better time to enter politics than now, when the city needs so much work?"

Sneyers claims he would bring to City Hall a governing style that's more diplomatic, transparent and open to new ideas than the one Mayor Rahm Emanuel has had.

"No one person is all knowing, and the mayor has to be willing to consult with others to investigate problems that need solving," Sneyers said. "That's one thing I've learned in 34 years in the financial services industry—I'll admit when I don't have the answers. Our mayor talks to people but he doesn't really listen to them."

Sneyers also noted that Chicago's mayor has to have a varied skill set, needing, for example, to know how to understand a balance sheet, while, at the same time, being able to weight the needs of different constituencies who live here.

"The mayor also needs to be able to manage relationships," he added. "Our current mayor is not very good at that. I'm used to working with a variety of individuals and developing solutions." His practical experience comes not just from managing client relationships in the financial services industry, he added. "My mother was single, and I was one of four children—I grew up in a working class environment," Sneyers said. "I know what it means to have to work for a living."

He said that he opposes charter schools, "as well as sending our tax dollars to programs funding charter schools."

A key education reform Sneyers would like to see in place is shifting away from a Chicago Public Schools board of education that is appointed by the mayor.

"I think that the board should be publically elected officials, with members who have vested interests in the Board itself. That removes the patronage issue, and takes one thing off the Mayor's plate, giving him more time to govern," Sneyers noted, adding that he would also like to see a similar structure in place for the Chicago Park District Board.

Sneyers would like to give Chicago citizens more of a voice in is when the city issues bonds as well; he maintains that bond offerings should be up for public vote: "That pouts the amount of debt directly in the hands of voters."

He supported last December's pension reform efforts, but admits the solution worked out was far from perfect.

"The pension funds were mismanaged, almost to the point that they were criminally mismanaged," he said. "We need to really study those original agreements and see how and why they were entered into, to have a better understanding of them for the future. The city has got fiduciary responsibilities and the pension is one of them."

Sneyers also disagrees with Chicago's flirtations with privatizing various city facilities and resources, among them the notorious signing over of the city's parking meter concession: "I am confident that if that agreement is studied very carefully, you can find a way to get us out of that," he said.

Chicago's infrastructure needs a comprehensive review "from top to bottom" in order to make it more efficient; Sneyers gave as an example myriad bus routes that have stops less than a block apart, and suggested that some of those superfluous stops might be eliminated. "That can reduce emissions and likely our fuel use as well," he said.

Another aspect of city management he'd like to see up for review is the city council itself.

"I'm amazed at the number of people who don't know that we have 50 City Council members," Sneyers said, noting that cities of similar or larger sizes don't have that many. I'm thinking of a commission that would consider how that number might be reduced."

In order to combat the city's crime problems, he would propose a task force made up of principle stakeholders in law enforcement issues.

"I would take a different approach than our current mayor on crime," he said. "As far as I am aware, there hasn't been an effort to have a meeting involving all of the relevant players in these situations—I'm talking about city officials, police, and victims, and so on. I am also thinking about national law enforcement as well. We also need to think about law enforcement in the suburbs as well—there was a shooting in Skokie this past weekend. What happens in places outside the city limits affect us as well."

He thinks that the most pertinent issue facing the LGBT community is homelessness amongst its youth. Sneyers has been a longtime advocate on LGBT youth issues, and attended the Summit on LGBT Youth Homelessness in May. He also added that, after founding the Chicago Gay Games bidding organization, he became familiar with working with a number of organizations and individuals in the LGBT community.

"But I'm hoping that people will be able to look at more than the fact that I'm openly gay, and consider that what I can give to Chicago is a real choice in how the city will be managed in the future," Sneyers said, adding that his administration would offer Chicagoans more self-determination than they've had under Emanuel. "What we have now is a 'one-solution' mayor. If I'm given the privilege of running the city, it will be run by the people, for the people."

This article shared 6200 times since Sun Jul 27, 2014
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