Ward Room has invited all 22 candidates for the 2nd Congressional District seat to speak with us in a Q & A Format.
Anthony Beale, 45, has been alderman of the Far South Side’s 9th Ward since 1999. He talked to Ward Room today about his candidacy in the 2nd Congressional District special election.
Q: The biggest issue in this election is guns. Where do you stand on the president's plan for an assault weapons ban, a ban on high-capacity clips and closing the gun show loophole, and how does your stand differ from other candidates?
A: In 2010, I was chairman of the City Council Committee on Police and Fire, and I passed the city's gun ordinance through my committee.
Q: Was that the ordinance the city had to pass after the McDonald case?
A: Yes. If you look at that ordinance, that was comprehensive gun reform and responsible gun laws that we had to put in place in order to move the city forward, under the direction of the federal judge. I already have a track record as far as pushing for gun control. Now the nation is talking about everybody have license, everybody go through background checks. That's already stuff we have in place in the city.
Q: But what do you say about the argument that these local gun ordinances aren't going to do any good as long as you can buy a gun at Chuck's Gun Shop in Riverdale, or Indiana or Mississippi.
A: That's exactly why we need to take what we've already done in the city of Chicago and take that to the national stage. The biggest problem is the secondhand gun shows, where you don't need background checks, you don't need a license, you can just purchase a weapon and walk out the door. The federal government has a responsibility to close that loophole. Nobody needs an assault weapon, nobody needs a high-capacity magazine clip. Those are guns that kill our community. They don't protect our community. I would like to even take it a step further and say that every gun that's made, that serial number needs to be registered with the federal government. I'm an avid hunter. I hunt deer, quail, pheasant, rabbit, every single year. But I'm a responsible gun owner.
Q: What kind of guns do you own?
A: A 30-.06 rifle, and 1187 Remington shotgun, and a 9 millimeter Glock. As aldermen, were legally allowed to carry [handguns]. I don't carry, but under the city ordinance and the state law, we have the right to carry a concealed weapon.
Q: Do you think the entire state should pass that law?
A: Absolutely not.
Q: Why not? If it's OK for aldermen, why not the general public.
A: An alderman is a sworn peace officer, and we have to go through 40 hours training in order to obtain the license. I've even taken 20 hours additional training.
Q: Why has this race attracted national attention in the gun debate?
A: Now that we've had such tragedies on a larger level, with dozens of kids being killed, I think that now captures the nation's attention. The people in this race are trying to capitalize on that, but I've been fighting it from the very beginning.
Q: What have you done so far to move the Red Line extension forward, and what can you do as a congressman to get the money?
A: Being chairman of Transportation, we've been aggressively pushing the Red Line upgrade and the Red Line extension. This summer, we're shutting down the Red Line for four months in order to get the Red Line upgraded, which will save people between 12 and 15 minutes between 95th and Cermak. Once the Red Line is upgraded, now we can start implementing the Red Line extension. We're in step 4 of 7. Once the Red Line is upgraded, then we can walk right into the transition for the extension.
Q: You say you want to bring the Obama Presidential Library to Pullman.
A: 111th and Cottage Grove is the ideal location for the presidential library. What better place where the president got his start in the community?
Q: Walmart has been a big calling card for you? How does bringing a Walmart into the ward translate into what you're going to do as congressman?
A: Nobody in history has ever brought Walmart and the unions to the same table. I was able to do that. That's the kind of leadership we need to bring Cook County, Will County and Kankakee County to the table to make sure that this third airport gets built in a timely fashion.
Q: How did you get the unions to get over their objections to Walmart?
A: We put a lot of their fears to the side, and Walmart signed an agreement that every Walmart will be built 100 percent union.
Q: But the workers still aren't union.
A: They're paying more for their employees at my location. That was something else we negotiated.
Q: You're the only major candidate who isn't from the suburbs.
A: That's why my candidacy is unique beyond belief. Forty percent of the district is in the city, I am the only city candidate running, and I'm running very strong in the south suburban area.
Q: What's your experience with the suburban and rural constituencies you'll need to work with to get the third airport built?
A: I've been following the third airport issue. I've been in constant contact with the consultants, and I know what the hurdles are.
Q: Toi Hutchinson had a breakfast with some pastors who said everybody needs to drop out except her, because the black community needs to be united behind one candidate. What's your response to that?
A: I have no response to that. I can get 100 pastors to say the same thing for me.
Q: What's your transportation plan?
A: I'm the only one who has a comprehensive plan to create jobs and move this district forward. Once this third airport is built, we're going to connect the airport with our port, with our rail, with our roads, to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Walmart and Target are looking for a distribution center on the South Side, in this region. If we can bring all those entities together, we will be the transportation hub of the region. That's the kind of vision we need.