Candidate questionnaires

Placeholder for Raul Montes, Jr.

Raul Montes, Jr.

Candidate for City Council, 22nd Ward

Raul Montes, Jr.

Candidate for City Council, 22nd Ward

Placeholder for Raul Montes, Jr.

Education: Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Occupation: Substitute teacher, Private security

Home: Chicago

Age: Not answered

Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered


Candidates running for City Council, 22nd Ward

Responses to the Chicago Tribune's questionnaire

Q: Last year, the Chicago Tribune's investigative series "Broken Bonds" reported that, since 2000, Chicago had issued long-term bonds to spend nearly $10 billion, much of it for short-term operating expenses. Hundreds of millions of dollars went to delay bond payments by refinancing old debts, a tactic known as "scoop and toss" that extends payments far into the future. Was this borrowing justified? Going forward, how should City Hall change its finances to pay down existing debts and provide services? Will you argue primarily for cuts in spending or for tax increases? Please be specific.

I would need more information on this borrowing tactic and would require additional information to explore the legality and after careful consultation would then take a position in the best interest of the taxpayers. I would not want to kick the can down the road by passing this financial irresponsibility and debt to our future children and grandchildren.

Q: Chicago will face a substantial increase in contributions to its police and fire pension funds in 2016. Chicago's unfunded pension liability amounts to about $7,000 for each resident of the city. How should the city solve its pension crisis? Please be specific about pension changes, spending cuts or revenue increases you would support.

Chicago's unfunded pension liability should be carefully examined to ensure we work closely within the legal framework of the contractual agreement in the best interest of City workers and taxpayers of Chicago.

Q: What changes should be made in the city's use of tax increment financing? Would you support expansion or extension of TIF districts in your ward? How should excess TIF funds be spent? Do you support the $55 million allotment of TIF funds to buy land for a Marriott Hotel and DePaul basketball arena? Please explain.

I would explore support of TIF districts along the industrial corridors of the 22nd Ward. I would not support TIF funds to be spent to buy land for a hotel or a basketball arena. An investment of TIF money would be better spent to improve infrastructure within my Ward. This additional fuhnding would provide a greater impact by expanding the scope of meaningful local community afterschool programs for our youth. Collaborating with a variety of community based organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA and others would created a much needed benefit to our youthful community who are most vulnerable to gangs and crime.

Q: The Tribune Editorial Board recently offered "12 ways to heal a city" — the best ideas among more than 1,000 suggestions from readers on how to craft "A new Plan of Chicago." These proposals are available at Please tell us which ideas you would champion. We invite you to offer additional ideas for dealing with Chicago's challenges.

12 ways to heal.... I am in favor of championing economic development in crafting a marketing plan with our Chamber of Commerce partners and leaders to increase visitors and tourism into the 22nd Ward. In addition, bring the necessary partners and resources to the 22nd Ward that have been lost over the years to address the youth gang and crime issues thus improving the quality of life in the community.

Q: Should the City Council keep or abolish the office of legislative inspector general? Should the city inspector general be given the authority to investigate aldermen and their staff members? Do you have other ideas to improve government ethics in Chicago? Please explain.

5. The City Council should keep the Legislative Inspector General and be given the authority to investigate alderman and staff. As a separate unit of government this provides our citizens with transparency in their government and the integrity our citizens expect of their elected public officials.

Q: The Chicago Public Schools system has seen significant improvements in freshmen on track and high school graduation rates. CPS has also closed dozens of schools, used fiscal 2016 revenue to balance its 2015 budget and faces a roughly $700 million pension payment in 2016. Please give us your assessment of the academic and financial performance of the city's public schools. What is the key to improving public education in the city? Should members of the Board of Education be elected by the public or continue to be appointed by the mayor? Do you support the longer school day and year? Should CPS expand or reduce the number of charter schools? How should CPS close its significant budget gap?

6. The academic and financial performance of our Chicago public school system has been on a roller coaster ride for years. Although, several positive steps have been taken by the current administration that show promise, we have much more work ahead of us. One key element to improving public education is to empower and trust our principals and teachers and support them as professionals by allowing the flexibility to develop curriculum, explore innovative approaches to meet and exceed federal and State of Illinois educational standards. The Chicago Public Schools administration at the Central Offices has had a strangle hold with too many bureaucratic layers over our schools and a top heavy, non- productive staff at the Central Offices. I would be in favor of initiating a serious thorough audit of personnel and programs on their usefulness and how they directly help impact, administration, instruction, and academic growth for our children. By reallocating staff and resources to work directly under the control of a school principal the true accountability could have an impact in what we are all striving for, which is academic achievement for all students. The Chicago Public Schools Board of Education is the only school board appointed by a mayor in the State of Illinois. The citizens and taxpayers have been stripped of their representation on a local school board as called for in the Illinois Compiled Statues and School Code. The citizens and taxpayers of Chicago need representation on a local school board truly advocates and represents families and children in providing them a forum to express their voice on matters of education that have lifelong implications on their children. Yes, I would support a longer school day and year in order to meet the academic challenges our children face in meeting all educational objectives. I believe Charter schools should be reduced and we should allocate the necessary resources to already struggling schools and develop a plan to meet our contractual obligations with the Chicago Teachers Union. The CPS should close its significant budget gap by reallocation staff and resources back to the local schools and not the Central Offices and excessive staff.

Q: How would you attract more employers to your ward? How would you encourage employers to hire local residents? What have you done to promote economic development in your ward?

7. I would jointly develop a marketing plan to attract investors by working with the chamber of commerce to attract new and needed businesses. This provides local employment opportunities to our community. I have supported numerous community projects that complement our commercial strip and stress local shopping support.

Q: Do you support or oppose the City Council vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019? Please explain.

8. I support the minimum wage increase in increments by 2019. With a combination of expanding and attracting new businesses and jointly reaching out to reignite the vibrancy on our business strip.

Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.

9. No building on the lakefront, Burnham's plan to keep the beaches open and free for public access is what I support.

Q: How can the city improve public safety? Please address the role and performance of the Chicago Police Department and the role of neighborhood residents in crime prevention. What have you done to improve public safety in your community?

10. Continuous engagement with the local community and community policing working together builds trust and confidence. Expand meaning sports and afterschool programs that engage all youth and young adults. I'm vigilant and constantly have a pulse of my community advocating against crime and issues that affect the quality of life in the community.

Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.

11. I do not support the red light cameras. They have angered our citizens and have not made a significant impact on safety. I have worked with "Citizens to abolish red light cameras".

Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?

12. I would maintain the 50 aldermen at this time until I have more time to review and develop an opinion on this good question.

Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?

13. Reduction of youth gangs, crime and the development of our Ward into an economic tourist attraction for the city.

Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

14. As a community activist, I have brought attention to address well over 600 issues from citizens and community leaders, where I have assisted and took a leadership role to bring positive attention in the improvement of the quality of life issues for all residents.

City Council, 22nd Ward