Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board questionnaire responses

1) City Pensions

Q: Chicago's fire and police pensions are greatly underfunded, and the city is required by the  state to make a $550 million payment into the pension funds by the end of 2015. Do you  support restructuring the pension systems, inevitably reducing benefits, to put the funds  on sound financial footing?

Yes or No:

Please Explain: Yes, I would tie the budget system with the pension system so that all  state pension employees contribute to one state pension system.

Q: Chicago's pension systems for municipal workers and laborers already have been  restructured, reducing benefits, but the city has yet to identify where it will find the  revenue to sufficiently fund those systems. Under what circumstances would you support  a property tax increase to raise the needed revenue for the fire and police pensions and/or  the municipal workers and laborers pensions?

A: I would not support a property tax increase to fund pensions.

2) Chicago Public Schools pensions

Q: Large and growing payments required to keep the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund  solvent are squeezing CPS' budget, forcing cuts elsewhere and limiting investment. The  Chicago Board of Education has increased property taxes, but it is not enough to keep up  with the high annual costs. What measures do you support to ensure a solvent retirement  system and to improve the district's finances?

A: I would tie all pension funds into one state wide pension fund. For one, I would increase  corporate tax.

3) Revenue

Q: In light of the financial issues discussed above, do you support any or all of the following  measures, each of which would require, at a minimum, approval by the Illinois  Legislature?

* A statewide expansion of the sales tax base to include more consumer services

Yes or No:No, we already have the highest state tax in the country.

* A tax on non-Chicago residents who work in the city

Yes or No:No

* A tax on electronic financial transactions on Chicago’s trading exchanges, known as the  “LaSalle Street tax”

Yes or No:Yes

Please explain your views, if you wish, on any of these three revenue-generating measures.

4) Crime

Do you support hiring more police officers to combat crime and gun violence inChicago?

Yes or No:Yes

Please explain: More officers would lead to more public safety. 

Q: What legislation in Springfield would you support to try to stem the flow of illegal   guns  into Chicago?

A: The existing legislation needs to be enforced.

5) Elected school board

Q: An advisory referendum on switching Chicago to an elected school board, rather than an  appointed board, is expected to be on the ballot in more than 30 wards on Feb. 24.  Currently, the mayor appoints all seven board members and the Schools CEO. Do you  support a change to an elected school board?

Yes or No:

Please explain: Yes, it will help create a more efficient school board.

6) Tax-increment financing districts

Q: TIFs are the primary economic development tool of the city. In a TIF district, taxes from  the growth in property values are set aside for 23 years to be used for public projects and  private development. Do you support increasing the annual TIF surplus that the mayor  and the City Council have declared in each of the last few years, money that goes to the  schools and other city agencies?

Yes or No: No, because the funds should only go the school system, not other city  agencies.

Q: What reforms would you propose for the city's TIF program?

A: The TIF program should be partially overseen by a citizen’s review board.  

7) Neighborhood economic development

Q: What would you do as alderman to boost economic development in your ward, and bring  jobs to your community?

A: I would promote the availability of economic commercial real estate in the area and the  availability of a young educated work force.

8) Size of the Chicago City Council

Q: The City Council has 50 members, but civic groups and other regularly argue for  reducing the size of the Council. What should the size of the Council be? Please provide  a specific number. And why?

A: Number should remain the same, system works efficiently as it is.

9) A Chicago casino

Q: Do you support, in general concept, establishing a gambling casino in Chicago?

Yes or No:

Please explain:Yes, it promotes economic development.

10) Red light and speed cameras

Q: Does the city have an acceptable number of red light and speed cameras currently, and  are they properly employed?

Yes or No:

Please explain: No, they need to be eliminated.

11) Ward issues

What are the top three issues in your ward — the ones you talk about most on the  campaign trail?

Jobs, gangs, and garbage.


Neftalie Gonzalez

Office running for: Alderman, 22nd Ward

Political/civic background: Ran for alderman, 22nd Ward, in 2011

Occupation: Small business owner

Education: 3  years, Loyola University 

Campaign website: