By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Since making her announcement in September to run for state representative in the March 2018 Democratic Primary Anne Marie Miles, a South Shore resident, community activist and attorney, said she is prepared to implement her vision if elected to the 25th House District seat.
Miles made her announcement after State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) announced that she would not seek another term for the seat whose district includes Hyde Park, Kenwood, South Shore, Woodlawn, South Chicago and East Side.
In the state legislature, Miles said she will fight to reform an unfair criminal justice system, and confront the state’s financial challenges in an equitable and responsible manner.
“[With] criminal justice reform I think I’ve been clear,” said Miles in a sit-down interview with the Herald last Wednesday. “We need to make changes to the criminal code. We need to seriously think about sunsetting felony convictions. If we can sunset tax deduction for the middle class, we can sunset felons.”
Miles explained that sunsetting non-violent felonies on a person’s record, would mean that a class one or two felony should be downgraded to a misdemeanor after 10 years.
“After 10 years, it will become a misdemeanor,” Miles said. “A misdemeanor is more helpful because [employers] will give people with a misdemeanor a chance.”
Miles said if elected, she will develop a commission to restructure the criminal code in the Illinois Judicial System.
On the matter of the state’s budget crisis, Miles said there are a number of things that she will do, including developing a progressive income tax.
“I think it’s fair,” said Miles about creating a progressive income tax. “That’ll require a constitutional amendment. Some people have floated the idea that we might actually be able to do a workaround by charging a higher income rate and then creating a tax credit.”
Miles said her experience after running and losing in the 5th Ward Aldermanic race in 2011 and 2014 has taught her patience and the importance of observing policy on various governmental levels.
“Running for office is a learning process,” Miles said. “Many people who start out running are overly optimistic about what can get done and what can’t get done. Over time [you] see where small changes can be made. Sometimes you can make a big change, I think that’s one of the things that you learn to watch what could be done on various levels of the government.”
Miles said that her experience in running for the 5th Ward, has given her a deeper appreciation on how the legislative process works.
Prior to running for public office, Miles said she saw the need to
assist people who have criminal convictions with getting a second
chance, so she volunteered with Cabrini Green Legal Aid to assist with the sealing and expungement of criminal records and worked with members of the Union League Club to raise public awareness of the issues.
“I’ve seen far too many young people in their 20s do something stupid and they get branded a felon and it stays with them for the rest of their lives,” Miles said.
In the past eight years, Miles said she’s been involved with the community.
Miles said she supports an elected school board.
“I think they [school boards] should be elected,” Miles said. “I think after we saw the closing of 50 public schools, they [Chicago Public Schools] were somehow finding money to build a state of the art high school on the north side.”
Miles said she opposes charter schools.
“I’m basically opposed to charter schools,” Miles said. “I know that many parents in the district would like to get their children into charter schools, but if you take a look at the statistics, you are only getting 17 percent of charter schools that are outperforming regular public schools.”
Miles said initially she believed that charter schools may have had a higher percentage of outperforming public schools in the past but that is no longer the case. She believes that charter schools are currently “siphoning resources away from the public schools.”
Miles said, with Chicago being an international city and a global city it needs to provide a high caliber education to all students.
Transportation is another issue she would address if elected to office, Miles said.
If elected to office, Miles said she will personally propose ferry services for the 25th District. She mentioned that other cold-weather cities such as New York, Boston and Seattle, have ferry services to bring people in so she doesn’t see why Chicago cannot.
Miles said her proposed ferry service would coincide with the building of the South Works Chicago Lakeside Development, which consist of the proposed plan for zoning approvals of building approximately 13,575 single-family dwellings and high-rise units near the old steel plant (residents of mixed-used residential units).
She said the ferry services would have stops in Hyde Park, depending upon feasibility elsewhere and that services will go down to either Navy Pier or the museum campus, depending upon what transportation experts think is most efficient.
Miles also explained she’ll address environmental issues in the 25th District, mainly the Southeast side’s chemical plants.
Miles is a former elder lawyer that has worked alongside members of the Union League Club to raise public awareness on issues regarding senior citizens.
Miles, is a wife and mother of three adult children who attended schools in Hyde Park and Woodlawn. So far she has raised $20,000 for her campaign.
Miles, who is on the board of the South Shore Opera Company of Chicago, said that as a state legislator, she will fight for criminal justice reform and “will confront the state’s financial challenges in an equitable and responsible manner” to “ensure that the state has a budget that funds critical social service organizations.”