Conyears-Ervin for City Treasurer
March 30, 2019

Melissa Conyears-Ervin.

Leading up to the Feb. 26 election, Gazette Chicago endorsed Melissa Conyears-Ervin for City Treasurer. That race included 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar and Peter Gariepy, a Certified Public Accountant servicing the West Town and East Village communities. Conyears-Ervin garnered 44.3% of the vote, with Pawar coming in second with 41.6% and Gariepy receiving 14.1%. Conyears-Ervin outpaced Pawar by 13,827 vote, 224,183 to 210,356, while Gariepy earned 71,479 votes.

With no one receiving 50% or more of the vote total on Feb. 26, this one is headed to a run-off on April 2 between Conyears-Ervin and Pawar. We hope that this race is more than about the 71,000-plus votes that went to Gariepy, as we hope the voter turnout will be larger in the runoff.

The truth of the matter is we have two very good candidates to choose from in Conyears-Ervin and Pawar. Both have served their constituents well since holding public office.

Pawar has generally voted with the progressives in City Council and in 2017 ran an unsuccessful bid for the 2018 Democratic nomination for Governor. He was the first Indian-American and Asian-American elected to the Council in 2011.

Pawar would diversify the City’s investment portfolio and make sure investments are environmentally sound. Pawar said he wants to run the office under a “bold, progressive agenda” and invest in neighborhoods. He promises to be a “fiscal watchdog” and end City deals based on clout. He would keep the office independent from the Mayor and City Council through establishing an Office of Economic Empowerment to help people with housing, debt, and education in an effort to solve economic inequality. He strongly supports a municipal-owned bank that would not have predatory service fees and changes in interest rates that harm consumers. He would divest the City from fossil fuels and embrace a green agenda. Pawar has a unique plan to “publicize” the City’s water system by selling shares in it. We are concerned about any plan that takes a City asset such as water away from the City, as Pawar’s would as it poses too many risks.

Conyears-Ervin has been a State Representative in this community’s 10th District since 2016. She sponsored and had passed the improved Illinois education formula bill, bringing an additional $221 million in funding to the Chicago Public Schools. This was no small feat considering she was dealing with the obstruction of former Governor Bruce Rauner and a slate of Republican legislators who didn’t want to see CPS receive a fairer share of State revenues.

Conyears-Ervin also was the chief sponsor of a bipartisan bill that protected funding for child care assistance to help working parents. We are impressed with how Conyears-Ervin hit the ground running in Springfield, made a significant impact during her first term, and did so working both sides of the aisle in an environment that didn’t encourage much of this type of effective legislative leadership. We believe these strengths would enhance the Office of the City Treasurer.

Conyears-Ervin noted that her experience in the legislature has taught her the unfairness of expecting people to wait for money owed them, so she promises to pay bills promptly. She would place the City’s money in banks that invest in communities of need. She would work to increase investment revenues to help pay for City pensions.

As Treasurer, Conyears-Ervin would enact policies that would benefit all residents of Chicago. Her platform offers an opportunity to increase transparency and even the playing field in bringing critically needed economic development to all corners of the City. So much of the discourse, passion, and momentum this election season have been about fairness and taking a final whack at the remnants of Machine politics in Chicago.

We support Conyears-Ervin’s plan to move the Council Office of Financial Analysis from the City Council to the Office of the Treasurer. This would give a more independent voice when analyzing bond issues, revenue projections, and budget impact statements. All are sorely needed in what has been a rubber-stamped City Council for the Mayor for far too many years. This takes some moxie on Conyears-Ervin’s part, too, as her husband Jason Ervin (28th Ward) is a member of the City Council. We also applaud Conyears-Ervin’s plan to conduct a financial analysis of CPS and its sister agencies as well as that of the City’s pension funds. This pension analysis would help us get a better handle on how to address the $1 billion deficit and a way to bring City pension plans to solvency. We also appreciate that Conyears-Ervin would work to make more Chicago families educated about the importance of sound financial decision making and access to local banks.

Conyears-Ervin has been a strong, local voice for the constituents within Gazette Chicago’s coverage area. We believe she can make the transition well from State Representative to City Treasurer. She has a master’s degree in business and finance and has shown the skill set needed for assessing critical financial matters for Chicago. Melissa Conyears-Ervin remains our solid choice for City Treasurer.