23rd Ward candidate for alderman: Silvana Tabares
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The Sun-Times sent aldermanic candidates a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the city and their wards. Silvana Tabares submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Silvana Tabares?
She’s running for: 23rd Ward alderman
Her political/civic background:
- Alderman, June 27, 2018 – Present
- Democratic State Central Committeewoman, 3rd Congressional District, March 2018 – Present
- State Representative, 21st District, January 2013 – Present
- Chair of Elections and Campaign Finance Committee, January 2017 – Present
- Member of Labor & Commerce, Fire & Emergency Services, and Police & First Responders Committees, January 2016 – Present
- Secretary of Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus, January 2013 – December 2016
- Managing Editor, EXTRA Bilingual Community Newspaper, January 2007 – June 2011
- Oversaw weekly operation of editorial content for print, online, and social media.
- Reported on local issues impacting Hispanic communities in Chicago and surrounding suburbs.
- Segment Producer, WRTE 90.5FM Radio Arte Chicago, January 2000 – August 2004
- Managed weekly audio program on issues impacting youth in Chicago.
- Conducted on-air interviews with non-profits, community leaders, and artists.
- Trained local public high school students in journalism and audio production.
- Contributor, WBEZ 91.5FM Chicago Public Radio, November 2001 – April 2003
- Published a documentary on Latino runaways for “Chicago Matters” series on Inside Housing.
- Produced a documentary on issues related to Hispanic youths for “Sound Partners” series.
- AWARDS: Chicago Teachers Union, LEAD Award, 2017; Illinois Environmental Council, Environmental Leadership Award, 2016; Chicago Headline Club, Peter Lisagor Award, Excellence in Print Journalism, Non-English, 2009; National Association of Hispanic Publications, Outstanding Bilingual Weekly Newspaper, 2009; College Broadcasters Inc., National Student Production Award, Best Documentary, 2007
- ASSOCIATIONS: Edgar Fellows Leadership Program, Class of 2014; Metropolitan Leadership Institute, Class of 2010
Her occupation: Alderman
Her education: B.A. Broadcast Journalism, Columbia College Chicago, 2007
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Silvana Tabares: Public Safety — I want to work to ensure first responders have the tools they need to keep our communities safe and to build relationships within the neighborhood to keep our families save on the southwest side.
Economic Development — I want to work with local businesses to leverage our proximity to Midway Airport to encourage growth and job development within our neighborhoods and to keep customers and patrons within the city and not in the suburbs.
City Services — I want to work with the city and to have as efficient and responsive constituent service office as possible, so residents and taxpayers know their government is responsive to their needs.
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.
Silvana Tabares: Before becoming Alderman, I had the honor to serve as a state representative in the General Assembly. There I am proud of my work to support police and first responders, to bring more funding to Chicago Public Schools, and to fight for Chicago teachers to have the same bargaining rights as other teachers throughout the state. I work closely with our local neighborhood watch organization, as well as local chambers of commerce and civic leagues.
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.
Silvana Tabares: Any changes in the pension system must be a collaborative effort with the unions that represent the employees and retirees. If we have learned anything from Springfield’s attempt to change pensions, it is that unilateral efforts will be challenged and could end up costing more down the road with little to show.
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.
Silvana Tabares: I would like to review the specifics of a plan for a Chicago Casino, but do believe that it could provide additional revenue with minimal impact on working families. I feel changes to the laws regarding marijuana are inevitable, but I would like to consult more with law enforcement and those who deal with impaired drivers. I am open to a commuter tax as long as it would not impact Chicago working families. I do not support a property tax increase, and I do not support a municipal sales tax increase as both would hurt middle-class families and senior citizens. I do not support an increase in the real estate transfer tax and would like to review specifics of any proposed video gambling ordinances.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Silvana Tabares: I support a fair tax and would push for Springfield to enact it to ensure millionaires and billionaires are paying their fair share and to provide relief to the middle-class families that live in the 23rd Ward.
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?
Silvana Tabares: Tax Increment Financing needs to be open and transparent. I support utilizing online resources where residents can look up where TIF districts are located and where how they are impacting local property taxes. These districts should be used to help neighborhoods that are in need of development. I am open to reviewing the “Back to Basics” ordinance that was introduced in the City Council to require more proof that proposed districts will help areas that are truly in need.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Silvana Tabares: Aldermen are elected by the residents of their ward to fight for what is best for their neighborhoods. I feel aldermen need to be free to be the best advocates for their constituents as they can be and that if they fall short, they will be held accountable at the ballot box.
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?
Silvana Tabares: The men and women of the Chicago Police Department put their lives at risk every day. I think we need to listen to the officers of the police department to make the best choices moving forward. The City Council needs to be more focused on providing the men and women of the Chicago Police Department with the tools they need to get the job done and to return safe to their families at the end of their shift.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Silvana Tabares: Illegal guns are flowing into Chicago from neighboring states because there is a demand for them in high-crime neighborhoods. We need to put pressure on federal authorities to crack down on illegal transfers of guns like the one used to murder Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer. We need stricter background checks and the Lethal Violence Order of Protection law that could have stopped the murders of Dr. Tamara O’Neal, Dr. Breana Taylor, and Police Officer Samuel Jimenez. We need to expand the city’s gun buy-back program and we need to stop the revolving door at 26th and California that allows gun offenders back on the street. Finally, we need to expand extracurricular activities, job training, and summer jobs programs throughout the city to provide a safe alternative to our young people.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Silvana Tabares: We should hold the current charter schools to the same standard as other neighborhood schools, but we need to focus on supporting the public schools that are already in existence. We also need to support the teachers at charter schools and their right to collectively bargain and organize.
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?
Silvana Tabares: I support an elected school board for the Chicago Public Schools.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Silvana Tabares: The 23rd Ward is largely comprised of single-family homes and my priority is to support these homeowners and to help them protect their investments into their homes.
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?
Silvana Tabares: As I go door to door throughout the ward, residents are concerned about having good jobs in the neighborhood, good schools for their children, and safe communities to where they can go for a walk in the evening and not fear for their safety. These concerns are shared by all residents regardless of their documentation and by working hard to provide for a good future for all the residents of the 23rd Ward, the undocumented community will benefit as will their documented neighbors.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Silvana Tabares: Yes, because it can help to ensure a responsible use of public funds.
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.
Silvana Tabares: No.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Silvana Tabares: Though not an alderman, I have learned a lot from Leader Barbara Flynn Currie in the Illinois House of Representatives. She is very tough, very intelligent, and has been a strong voice for her district in the General Assembly.