Taxes, political corruption and violence are the top concerns for Chicago voters aged 50 and over.
And they want the next mayor to know a thing or two about balancing budgets, fighting crime and educating children, but they’re less concerned whether that person is a seasoned politician with connections.
They do think it’s important that the city’s new leader represent those who have been overlooked in the past.
Those are some of the key findings of an AARP poll conducted to help identify priorities of the 50-and-over crowd ahead of the mayoral election.
A whopping 89 percent of the 801 polled for the AARP survey said they’d be voting in the Feb. 26 race, showing the power of the more senior voting bloc. The calls were conducted between Dec. 13 and the 23 in both English and Spanish. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. AARP Chicago is a sponsor of Sun-Times’ election-related events.
When asked what type of characteristics are most important to have in the next mayor, 69 percent of those polled said it was very important for a candidate to have expertise in specialized areas such as crime, budget shortfalls and education. Just 29 percent said it was very important to have a seasoned politician with ties to existing leaders and people with influence in the city.
Fifty one percent said it is “very important” for a candidate to be a leader of multicultural or other background who will represent groups often overlooked in politics. Forty-nine percent said it was “very important” to have a newcomer with fresh ideas.
Respondents were “very often” worried about taxes, prices raising faster than income, political corruption in Chicago, and the threat of crime and violence in their communities. Those asked said property taxes were a top concern, with 67 percent saying they were “very concerned.” Another 62 percent said they were very concerned about sales taxes; 57 percent said they were very concerned with an income tax hike; 51 percent said they were very concerned with a gas tax; and 46 percent said they were very concerned about a bag tax.
The survey also tackled whether respondents had heard of someone talking about leaving Chicago — 68 percent said yes. Of those asked, 44 percent said they had personally considered leaving Chicago, citing factors including crime, taxes and a lower overall cost of living.
Dan Rest is among hundreds who took the poll. Rest, who owns a home with his wife in Lincoln Square, says he’s considering leaving the state if taxes don’t go down.
“Taxation is driving me out of my house. I’ve lived in a bungalow I bought in 1995, and since then my taxes have quadrupled,” Rest, 69, said. “My water bill has gone up tenfold, and even though I own the house outright, it’s unlikely I can stay in Chicago when my wife and I retire.”
Rest cited “staying in my own home and public transit” as his top concerns. As for mayoral candidates in the upcoming election, the self-employed photographer said he won’t vote for a “newbie.”
“I think we have learned on a national scale of what that gives us,” Rest said.
Respondents were asked how the Chicago City Council is doing. Just 29 percent approved of their performance, with 52 percent saying they disapproved and another 18 percent saying they were not sure.
There was more confidence in their aldermen. When asked, 51 percent said they approved of their alderman’s performance, with 31 percent saying they disapproved.
Respondents were asked about what topics will determine whom they vote for. Reducing crime and violence, essential services for the elderly, children, people with disabilities and low-income families, as well as improving education were the top three topics respondents felt were most important.
Those surveyed were asked whether violence in Chicago had increased within the last four years. About 46 percent said it had “increased a lot,” with 23 percent saying it had stayed about the same, and 15 percent said it had “increased a little.”
Another question targeted the effects of violence on the quality of life of those in Chicago. Those surveyed said they strongly agreed that personal safety, racial and ethnic conflict, and the local economy, among other factors had been affected by violence.
Of those polled, 60 percent said they were Democrats, 23 percent called themselves independents and 8 percent said they were Republicans. When asked about race, 39 percent said they were African American, 48 percent were white, 7 percent were Asian, and 2 percent were Asian.
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January 28, 2019 at 06:05AM