Candidate for City Council, 26th Ward
Education: University of Puerto Rico-Bachelor and Master's Degree Loyola University Chicago - Doctoral Studies in Clinical Psychology
Age: Not answered
Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered
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.
The City must meet its financial obligations. Going forward, I would like to see stricter enforcement measure implemented to collect debts owed to the City. I would argue for a combination of spending cuts and fee increases, which I would evaluate on a case-by-case basis.
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.
First off, the City should honor its current obligations. Moving forward, the City should initiate reforms for new hires. We will need to see what options are available after the Illinois Supreme Court ruling is rendered on current reforms.
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.
When used correctly and transparently, TIF's a vital economic development tool for communities to attract jobs and services. The SBIF program has been extremely useful in helping small businesses in the 26th Ward. I would support expansion of the TIF program within reasonable limits. If the hotel and arena create jobs and new revenue streams for the City then this is an appropriate use of TIF funds.
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 chicagotribune.com/plan. Please tell us which ideas you would champion. We invite you to offer additional ideas for dealing with Chicago's challenges.
"Schools as Tools" and "Oases in the Jobs Desert" are proposals I would evaluate further. These focus on diverse educational opportunities and job creation, which are two of my top priorities for the 26th Ward.
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.
Yes, the City Council should keep the office of legislative inspector general. The legislative inspector general already possesses the authority to investigate alderman and their staff.
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?
I feel CPS has made sizeable improvements and is headed in the right direction. In the 26th Ward, we now have ChiArts, the only public performing arts school in the City. A key to improving public education is taking bold steps like this to offer new and diverse educational opportunities. I would need greater detail of an elected School Board plan before supporting such a measure. My biggest fear of an elected school board is that it would disproportionately represent certain areas and interests rather than the City as a whole. At this point I support the current School Board system. If empirical data shows our students will benefit from a longer school day and year, then yes. Charter school expansion should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, particularly after evaluating the performance of other schools run by the provider. CPS should evaluate the administrator to teacher ratio and duplicative services as a means of closing the budget gap.
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?
I am very active in this area. I will continue to use TIF and SBIF programs to promote economic development and create jobs in the 26th Ward. I frequently attend conferences and conventions to attract and recruit new business to the 26th Ward.
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.
Yes. I co-sponsored and helped pass this ordinance.
Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.
This is a matter I would need to research further.
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?
Public safety is one of my top priorities. My staff attend CAPS meetings to keep me informed of current events in the ward. I host weekly ward meetings where I personally address resident concerns. I also meet with local police commanders on a regular basis to assess and develop strategies that reduce crime and increase public safety.
Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.
Yes. This is a safety mechanism which protects drivers and pedestrians.
Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?
Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?
My priorities and resident concerns are the same: 1) Public Safety 2) Education 3) Economic Development and Job Creation
Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I have been gluten-free for almost two years.