Antonio ‘Tony’ Munoz, Illinois Senate 1st District Democratic candidate profile

His top priorities include the environment, gun safety and affordable housing.

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Antonio ‘Tony’ Munoz, 2020 Illinois Senate 1st District Democratic primary election candidate.

Antonio ‘Tony’ Munoz, Illinois Senate 1st District Democratic primary candidate.

Candidate profile

Antonio ‘Tony’ Munoz

Running for: Illinois Senate District 1

Campaign website:

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The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent candidates for the Illinois Senate a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing their districts and the state of Illinois. Antonio “Tony” Munoz submitted the following responses:

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.

As State Senator of the first Senate District, I have supported legislation that empowers our community throughout my career. Recently in the McKinley Park Neighborhood we have been battling environmental injustice when the MAT Asphalt Plant opened in our community without notice. I have focused on giving the community a voice by setting up various town halls over the last 2 years. In response to this matter I also sponsored SB 1847 that was signed into law over the summer. This law will not allow a zoning permit to be considered until the community and elected officials have been properly notified. I also sponsored the Clean Energy Jobs act, $15/hr Minimum wage increase, The Nursing home Short Staffing bill (Senate Bill 1814), Elected School Board SB 153 and HB 2275 that allows CTU to strike over Class Size, Special Education, clinician staffing and Third-Party outsourcing. I am proud of the work that I have done in Springfield, but we still have much more to do. I am committed to continuing to advocate and fight for the working-class people of my district and our State.

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.

We have much work to do when it comes to the environment, gun safety and affordable housing. In the immediate future, we need to revisit banning assault weapons. I sponsored an assault weapons ban bill back in 2005. Unfortunately we were unable to gather enough support to pass it. Assault weapons have no place in our communities, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to stop the flow of assault weapons in our communities. Also, we must do all we can to stop the environmental injustices in our communities before it is too late. There will be a public hearing regarding the MAT Asphalt Plant on February 10th , 2020. The plant is looking to receive a 10 year operating permit. I stand with my community in saying no to this permit in order to keep our air and environment clean. Our communities have suffered enough and it is time that we begin to make the change our families deserve.

What are your other top legislative priorities?

Environmental legislation like the Clean Energy Jobs Act is critical in order to begin to turn our once polluted southwest corridor into a place that creates more jobs and cleans our environment. Issues such as the Elected School Board and Collective Bargaining Impasse legislation is also a key initiative that I want to focus on because it is important to support our schools and the future of our community. I also support working families and their right to collectively bargain. We must also figure out a way to incorporate the Illinois Gaming bill that will bring much needed revenue to our state to name a few initiatives.

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

I support the proposed graduated income tax. We are one of only a few states that have not implemented a graduated income tax and it is necessary in order to bring down the deficit in Illinois.

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?

I believe the new cannabis bill will be able to help pay some of these bills off. I am also not opposed to a new casino in Chicago and the possibility of a Racino either. The bottom line is that there are a number of ways to close our budget shortfall. We need to work together with the Mayors of our cities, the Governor, and with the House to pass budgets that are fiscally responsible and won’t burden future generations.

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

I believe that all people deserve the right to retire in dignity, that being said, the very wealthy have a responsibility to their community to pay their fair share. We need to look at all possible ways to bring much needed revenue to our state that is fair and equitable to all.

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

Bringing the decision making of our schools back to the people through an elected school board is key. We must also invest in STEM education, after school programs, mentorship programs, counselors and mental health. We must also make sure that no more schools close, instead look into investing more in these schools.

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

As a former Police Officer and 82nd Airborne Army Veteran I have seen first-hand the damage these weapons can do. They have no place in our communities. I have attempted in the past to pass an assault weapons ban. Unfortunately, it did not receive enough votes, but I am committed to passing a ban that will keep our community safe. We must also focus on mental health, I did not agree with the closing of the mental health hospitals in our city, especially the only Spanish speaking mental health hospital that the 12th ward alderman voted to close. I will work alongside my colleagues, the mayor, and our governor to find initiatives that will help bring the necessary resources to re-open these clinics.

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

When it comes to term limits, I believe that it is a double edged sword because we have elected officials that have done great things for our communities as well as our state. I also feel that If the community feels there should be change, they will make their voices heard on election day. We should leave that choice to the people.

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?

Independent maps is something I would certainly consider supporting. I would want to look into information about how the process would work for our state before I backed a constitutional amendment.

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?

I agree with tightening our ethics reforms and making the relationship between elected officials and lobbyists as transparent as possible.

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?

We should create a task force with civilians and legislators that focuses on how to regulate the tech industry that is collecting data that is invasive of an individual’s privacy. We need to have safeguards in place to protect people’s privacy.

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?

We have so many talented individuals right here in the State of Illinois, and we need to focus on providing access to training for jobs now, and for the future. We must come up with creative ways to not only keep high school grads in the state, but we should also find ways to keep college graduates in the state. We could provide tax incentives for companies that hire students that graduate from our state colleges and universities. A big focus has been on losing high school students to out of state schools. I also believe we should be talking about high school students attending technical students or joining a trade organization.

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

Bringing Clean energy jobs to our inner-city communities and making sure companies that pollute our environment are held accountable. Our southwest corridor has the highest burden of pollution in the state and that is something that we must change. I am looking forward to sitting down with community groups like N4EJ, Southwest Environmental Alliance to find solutions.

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.

Guadalupe Reyes, She was a leader in the community. She started an organization to ensure children with special needs had a place where they could learn and grow, The organization is still in existence today, El Valor. Reyes also helped to push for Benito Juarez, the high school in Pilsen. She also worked to establish in Pilsen, Proyecto Maravilla, a senior’s centre.

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

Band of Brothers, I am inspired by a story of men that came together to fight for freedom and democracy. It is important to stand against fascism and stand up for what is right.

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