Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board questionnaire responses
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:Yes
A: I support honoring our current obligations but restructuring benefits and initiating reforms for new hires. 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.
Q: Under what circumstances would you support a property tax increase to raise the needed revenue for the fire and policepensions and/or the municipal workers and laborers pensions?
A: I favor creating new revenue streams to meet our financial obligations, but in a responsible manner that does not place an undue burden or hardship on our residents and communities. I would need to evaluate each tax increase or fee proposal on a case-by-case basis.
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 asolvent retirement system and to improve the district's finances?
A: I would start by evaluating the administrator to teacher ratio and duplicative servicesoffered throughout CPS as areas to implement cost-saving measures.
Q: In light of the financial issues discussed above, do you support any or all of thefollowing 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:Yes
* A tax on non-Chicago residents who work in the city
Yes or No: Yes
* A tax on electronic financial transactions on Chicago’s trading exchanges, known as the “La Salle Street tax”
Yes or No:Yes
Please explain your views, if you wish, on any of these three revenue-generating measures.
A: I support evaluating the feasibility of these proposals on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Do you support hiring more police officers to combat crime and gun violence inChicago?
Yes or No: Yes
Public safety is one of my top priorities. We need to take adequate measures to ensure our residents and children are protected from crime and violence.
Q: What legislation in Springfield would you support to try to stem the flow of illegal guns into Chicago?
A: I would support legislation that protects our residents and children from crime and violence.
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 37 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:No
A: I would need greater detail of an elected School Board plan before supporting such ameasure. 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.
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: Yes, within reasonable limits.
Q: What reforms would you propose for the city's TIF program?
A: I would support greater transparency and accountability of the TIF program. TIF and SBIF funds have been vital in attracting business to the 26th Ward and creating jobs.When used correctly the TIF program is a tremendous economic development tool.
Q: What would you do as alderman to boost economic development in your ward, and bring jobs to your community?
A: I am very active in this area and attend conferences, conventions, and regularly meet with business owners to recruit new business and create jobs in the 26th Ward.
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: The City Council should remain as is. The current size is necessary to provide adequate service to residents on a daily basis.
Q: Do you support, in general concept, establishing a gambling casino in Chicago?
Yes or No: NA
I have not researched this topic and would need to evaluate an actual proposal before taking a position on this issue.
Q: Does the city have an acceptable number of red light and speed cameras currently, and are they properly employed?
Yes or No: Yes
A: These are a public safety mechanism that protect drivers and pedestrians.
Q: What are the top three issues in your ward — the ones you talk about most on the campaign trail?
A. Public Safety 2. Education 3. Economic Development and Job Creation
Candidate for alderman, 26th Ward
Occupation: Full-time alderman
Education: Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees - University of Puerto Rico
Doctoral Studies in Clinical Psychology - Loyola University Chicago