Barbara Hernandez, Illinois House 83rd District Democratic nominee profile

Her top priorities include property tax relief, public safety and education.

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Barbara Hernandez, 2020 Illinois House 83rd District Democratic nominee and incumbent, 2020 election candidate questionnaire

Barbara Hernandez, Illinois House 83rd District Democratic nominee and incumbent.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Candidate profile

Barbara Hernandez

Running for: State Representative 83rd Dist

Political/civic background: Barbara Hernandez was born and raised in Aurora, Illinois; daughter of first-generation immigrants. She graduated from East Aurora High school in 2010, Waubonsee Community College in 2012 and from Aurora University in 2014. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Barbara is the first in her family to attend college. She has been actively involved in the community. Barbara started out to pursue her passion for politics when she interned in the office of former State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia at the age of 17 and became her Assistant Chief of Staff in 2011. Thanks to the help of her family, friends and mentor, Linda, she has been more motivated than ever to accomplish her goals to be a public servant and be an effective voice in her community.

Occupation: State Representative

Education:

Waubonsee Community College Associate in Political Science 2012

Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Minor in Spanish Aurora University 2014

Masters in Public administration in Aurora University Estimated Grad 2020

Candidate website: https://www.friendsofbarbarahernandez.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Barbara4StateRep


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The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the Illinois House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing Illinois and their districts. Barbara Hernandez submitted the following responses:

The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the finances of Illinois. The state is staring at a $6.2 billion budget shortfall in this fiscal year. What should be done?Please be specific.

Let us not forget that COVIDhas impacted 1.2 million residents by losing their jobs.Businesses have had to get used to the “new normal” as they were slowly opening. There are several new needs that the state and municipalities had to take in to make sure everyone has the resources needed. Last May, I was able to vote for grants and loans for small businesses and provide relief for renters and homeowners along with increasing resources needed by families and passed a budget. Sadly, the Trump administration has not shown the same leadership to push bills that would help families across the country.

What grade — “A” to “F” — would you give Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic? Please explain. What, if anything, should he have done differently?

We need to remember that the fight against COVID is still not over. There are people who are still getting infected and dying. There are still essential workers who are putting their life on the line for others. I want to thank all the essential workers as I know this has not been easy for anyone. The state of Illinois has been making decisions being guided by experts based in medical science and it should continue to be guided through them. As we have seen there are other states who have not done so and have had to face a hard reality. We all need to continue to fight against COVID together and continue to keep families healthy.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis,legislatures in some states have taken up the issue of police reform. Should Illinois do the same? If so, what would that look like?

The murder of George Floyd and the killing of black men and women across our country is unacceptable. I want to listen to myconstituent’s stories, thoughts, and ideas and develop positive changes that can preventany morekillings from happening. Change does need tohappen and soon.

Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?

Body cameras should be required to be used by law enforcement, but theissuesare much larger than the discussion of body cameras. There has to be change across the board and make sure that constituents and otherstakeholdersare included to the table when talking about reform.

Federal prosecutors have revealed a comprehensive scheme of bribery, ghost jobs and favoritism in subcontracting by ComEd to influence the actions of House Speaker Michael Madigan. Who’s to blame? What ethics reforms should follow? Should Madigan resign?

I hope that my colleagues and I can come together in enacting tougher consequences on politicians who abuse thepublictrust. Politicians who violate ethics should pay back what they received from taxpayers and forfeit their pensions.

Barbara Hernandez submitted the following responses before the March primary:

Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or work you have done in other ways to improve your community.

In the last two years, I have worked with community organizations to continue growing in Aurora. I have been involved in the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Board, where we have organized several events for the community and host our yearly fundraiser where we raise and give scholarships to students.When it comes to legislation my bill HB3237 would expand the opportunities for high school students to qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy and obtain college credits.

Please list three concerns that are specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to an important local issue that should be revised.

When talking to the residents of my district, property taxes have been the top concern, along with crime and education.

What are your other top legislative priorities?

Education, property taxes and health are my top three items.

What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.

I believe it is a step in the right direction. It gives an opportunity for the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes without affecting the rest of the individuals in the state.

Illinois continues to struggle financially, with a backlog of unpaid bills that tops $6 billion. In addition to a progressive state income tax — or in lieu of such a tax — what should the state do to pay its bills, meet its pension obligations and fund core services such as higher education?

One of the items that we need to view a bit more closely our spending, consolidation and investments.

Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?

I have talked to a few constituents that would love to see taxing the retirement incomes, however, I think my concern would be individuals already associate the state of Illinois of taxing too much, I would like to see the pros and cons financially and talk to more constituents to hear their opinion.

What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?

Students need to feel supported and provide the assistance needed if the students are dealing with issues at home that might be affecting their grades. Increasing the amount of social workers and early childhood opportunities are crucial. I also believe legislators need to make sure to continue fully funding the Evidence Based Formula to make sure the money keeps flowing to schools that need it the most.

Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?

In the spring session of 2019, I was able to be chief co sponsor of SB1966 the Fix the FOID bill. Although, it didn’t get called in the senate, I would love to support future bills that will address this issue, as it affected my hometown of Aurora earlier this year.

Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.

My concern with term limits is if there is a hardworking legislator that keeps constant communication with its residents and providing good constituent services, people could risk having someone who won’t be that effective.

Everybody says gerrymandering is bad, but the party in power in every state — Democrats in Illinois — resist doing anything about it. Or do we have that wrong? What should be done?

Governor Pritzker has made several statements that he wants to end gerrymandering, therefore, I am confident that there will be a bill proposal that my colleagues and I will work on that will address the issue.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago is investigating possible official corruption by state and local officials. This prompted the Legislature to pass an ethics reform measure to amend the Lobbyist Registration Act (SB 1639). It was signed into law in December. What’s your take on this and what more should be done?

First, it is upsetting that there are people who betray the constituents trust by breaking ethic laws. I voted for SB 1639 because I believe we as legislators need to address this issue and provide the constituents with the outmost transparency, but this is also a step forward, there are a lot more items that we need to address.

When people use the internet and wireless devices, companies collect data about us. Oftentimes, the information is sold to other companies, which can use it to track our movements or invade our privacy in other ways. When companies share this data, we also face a greater risk of identity theft. What should the Legislature do, if anything?

I believe my colleagues and I should create a task force to learn more of the risk and ways we could prevent a third party to collect our information. However, I can also see this a bit difficult since most companies are from out of the country and at times are harder to track.

The number of Illinois public high school graduates who enroll in out-of-state universities continues to climb. What can Illinois do to make its state universities more attractive to Illinois high school students?

One of the bills that I supported was from Rep. Welch. The bill would allow universities to pay the athletes for their dedication in the sport. I believe that is a step forward to make sure Illinois universities look appealing for athletes. However, I also believe the universities should be able to offer a bit more financial aid, to assist students with the large payments.

What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?

I would love to see CEJA get called in the House in 2020, I think that bill will be a great way to create more environment friendly jobs and opportunities for individuals to advocate for environment.

What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.

My historical figure not from Illinois is Dolores Huerta, she is an American Labor Leader who fought along side Cesar Chavez. Although Dolores is 89 she continues to fight for the rights or labor and immigration. She has inspired a lot of women like myself to get involved in our community and fight for others.

What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?

I currently do not have a favorite show, however, I enjoy political tv shows such as Designated Survivor, House of Cards, and How to get Away with Murder.

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