The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 30th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Ariel Reboyras submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Ariel Reboyras?
His political/civic background: 30th Ward Alderman His occupation: 30th Ward Alderman His education: University of Illinois-Chicago Campaign website: Reyboyras.com
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
- Public Safety — increasing police patrols, improving police training, and strengthening community relations with the police
- Increasing the standard of life by providing quality of services that help the working families of the 30th Ward
- Alleviating overcrowding in our neighborhood schools
Recent civic work
Please tell us what you have done in the last two years to serve the city, your neighborhood or a civic organization. Please be specific.
Ariel Reboyras:This was a very successful term at both the city and ward level for me. In the ward, we opened the first Sbarro storefront in the country and as a condition of opening, they have agreed to employ 30th Ward residents. We opened Sleeping Village and Crawford’s to bring much needed entertainment to our Ward. Finally, we are in the process of renovating Northwest Bowl, a community staple dating back to the 1960s that will bring more family friendly activities to the 30th Ward.
At the City level, I was proud to negotiate with the U.S. attorney, Illinois Attorney General, and the City of Chicago to come up with the consent decree that will improve community-police relations. In addition, I was a proud supporter of progressive economic reforms like paid sick leave in Chicago, which will give our working families economic security when they or a family member gets sick.
Chicago is on the hook for $42 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, which works out to $35,000 for every household. Those pensions, in the language of the Illinois Constitution, “shall not be diminished or impaired.” Should the state Constitution be amended to allow a reduction in pension benefits for current city employees or retirees? How about reducing pension benefits for new employees? Please explain.
Ariel Reboyras:We need to honor our commitment to City workers and make our pension payments. With that said, we need to continue to find a balance that makes Chicago unaffordable for working families. The last four years resulted in pension compromises that balanced the concerns of organized labor with the need for more revenue – I was proud to take the hard votes that provided stability for our pension funds.
I am against amending the Constitution, specific proposals for new employees would need to be amended on an individual basis. I want to work with organized labor to ensure that their input is heard in any discussions about pension reform.
Of the following often proposed sources of new revenue for Chicago, which of the following do you favor, and why? A Chicago casino, legalized and taxed recreational marijuana, a LaSalle Street tax, a commuter tax, a property tax increase, a municipal sales tax increase, a real estate transfer tax increase, video gambling.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Ariel Reboyras:For the last four years, Chicago has been shouldering the burden of this alone. I am looking forward to working with our leaders in Springfield to legalize and tax marijuana on a local level and bring gaming in any form, including a Casino, to Chicago to create new revenue streams. I am open to a real estate transfer tax, but it would depend on the individual proposal.
Tax-increment financing districts are a primary economic development tool for Chicago. In a TIF district, taxes from the growth of property values are set aside for 23 years to be used to support public projects and private development. What changes do you favor, if any, in Chicago’s TIF program?
Ariel Reboyras:In the 30th Ward, we have used TIF funding to revitalize Milwaukee, Belmont and Fullerton Avenues. It has resulted in dozens of new businesses that employ 30th Ward residents and make the 30th Ward an even better place to live.
We need to amend the TIF ordinance to modernize it and address today’s concerns that weren’t as prevalent when the ordinance first passed. We need to ensure that we hold companies accountable for the financial incentives they receive. If a company commits to creating jobs in return for incentives, we need to make sure those jobs are actually created.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Ariel Reboyras:Aldermen are frontline advocates for their communities and I believe we should use all the tools at our disposal to make our wards good for working families. Part of that is engaging in effective communication about decisions that may impact the city and ward.
With that in mind, there are specific times when a ward specific project will have a citywide impact – these situations are rare but require more input and conversation from the entire City Council.
The City of Chicago has entered into a federally monitored consent decree to overhaul the training and practices of the Chicago Police Department. Civil libertarians say it is long overdue, but others say it is unnecessary and could make it tougher for the police to do their job. What’s your view?
Ariel Reboyras:I played a critical role in the negotiation between the Department of Justice, the Attorney General, and the City of Chicago that led to the consent decree. The result was an agreement that balances public safety concerns with the need for reform. The consent decree will increase the number of officers, ensure Chicago police officers have the training they need, and improve community police relations.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Ariel Reboyras:Nothing stops a bullet like a job – the fight against illegal guns starts with economic development, job skills training, and mentorship programs. We need to explore all options to reduce gun violence and stop the flow of illegal guns into our communities – everything needs to be on the table.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Should the Chicago Board of Education be solely appointed by the mayor, as is now the case? Or should Chicago switch to an elected school board or some hybrid?
Ariel Reboyras:We need to examine every charter proposal carefully and on an individual basis. Charter Schools provide quality educational opportunities but each proposal needs to be examined individually and take in a number of factors including academic performance of other schools in the charter network and how the charter improves the quality of life for their students. Charter schools should be held to the same performance standards as other CPS schools. I support moving toward an elected school board but we need to do it in a deliberate way that puts the academic outcomes of our schools ahead of politics between interest groups.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Ariel Reboyras:I was proud to open a new housing facility that provides 98 units of affordable housing with 60 being dedicated to our seniors. This isn’t enough and we need to continue to grow our housing stock through the growth of the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund and the expansion of the PEAR rental program.
Chicago, by ordinance, is an official “welcoming city.” This means the Chicago police are generally prohibited from detaining undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities. What’s your position on this policy? What more — or less — should be done with respect to undocumented immigrants who live in Chicago?
Ariel Reboyras:Chicago continues to be one of America’s great melting pots – across the city, you can experience a variety of cultures. That is why I support Chicago’s status as a “welcoming city”. We need to continue to offer resources for those who locate here including access to job and educational opportunities, housing, and legal assistance.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Would you employ, or have you employed, staff in your office who have outside jobs or contracts with entities that do business with the city? If so, please explain.
Ariel Reboyras:Yes, Joe Ferguson has proven to be a great resource for the City Council. I believe he should have the power to investigate when appropriate but they should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Neither I or my staff has outside jobs or income that do business with the city.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Ariel Reboyras:I am proud to have a great working relationship with a number of my colleagues. Nick Sposato is a good friend who understands what it’s like to advocate for working families in Chicago. As the former Chair of the Human Relations Committee, I have developed a great working relationship with the current Chair Pat Dowell. Finally, I am going to miss Ricardo Munoz in the Council as he continues to be a great advocate for Latinos in our city – he has no problem telling it how it is.