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25th Ward candidate for alderman: Troy Hernandez

25th Ward aldermanic candidate Troy Hernandez 2019 mayoral election Rich Hein

25th Ward aldermanic candidate Troy Hernandez at the Sun-Times Jan. 7. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 25th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Troy Hernandez submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):

Who is Troy Hernandez?

He’s running for: 25th Ward alderman

His political/civic background: LSC Pilsen Academy 4 years, Director at PERRO

His occupation: Executive architect, Data scientist IBM

His education: PhD Statistics, UIC 2013

Campaign website: www.TroyHernandez.com

Facebook: TroyHernandezpolitics

Top priorities

What are the top three priorities for your ward?

Troy Hernandez: Our ward is diverse. So that’s hard to answer
Development in both Pilsen and the West Loop.
Political corruption, e.g. Gerrymandering, campaign finances, ballot access

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. 

Troy Hernandez: I led the effort at Perro where we distributed 300 lead water filters to homes with women and children where water native has been replaced.
I mentored a team at NASA using computer vision algorithms to predict solar flares.
We replaced an awful principal at Pilsen Academy.

Pensions

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.

Troy Hernandez: No. Pensions have a multiplier in spending locally and many people rely on them. We shouldn’t have spent decades paying corporations with TIF funds which is what we did instead. New employees COLAs should be reasonable and tied to inflation.

It took decades to make the problem, we should give ourselves decades to dig out of it.


SUN-TIMES 2019 CHICAGO VOTING GUIDE


Revenue

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.

Troy Hernandez: Legalized marijuana has little downside while generating revenue and disempowering organized crime. A progressive property tax and real estate transfer taxes will help keep our city diverse socioeconomically. A casino wouldn’t be terrible near McCormick Place and O’Hare but otherwise we’d be getting diminishing returns. The rest would require fleshing out details to avoid negative secondary effects.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose? 

Troy Hernandez: TIFs.

TIFs

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? 

Troy HernandezSimple. Define blighted. I’d define blighted as an area where the median income is some fraction of the city’s income. Place restrictions on the boundaries so they don’t gerrymander those too.

Aldermanic power

What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?

Troy HernandezThat’d require a majority coalition to let the department of planning do their job and avoid my ward getting blowback.

Police reform

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? 

Troy HernandezThe department hasn’t been able to reform itself. It’s time to try something else. Whether it’s the federal consent decree or COPA. I’m willing to try it.

Guns

What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?

Troy HernandezThey come from the suburbs and other states. I guess we could lobby those entities. My cop friends tell me we can get tough on those caught with illegal weapons, which according aren’t to them aren’t being prosecuted to the fullest extent.

Schools

What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?

Troy HernandezTheir role should be diminished. Strong neighborhood schools are the key to strong communities.

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? 

Troy HernandezI’d like to see some educators on the board. Whether that’s through elections or a hybrid system is besides the point.

Affordable housing

Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain. 

Troy HernandezThere’s not enough affordable housing in the country, city, or ward. This is a national crisis. We can do some things locally to help, but ultimately I believe this is a problem related to taxation. Making that connection would require citing a chunk of Capital in the 21st Century.

Immigration

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? 

Troy HernandezIt should be a Sanctuary City. But if we convict someone for a violent crime and they are here illegally, I would be okay with referring then to ICE.

Ethics

Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not? 
Troy HernandezYes. Ald Burke and the illegally application of parliamentary rules to pass things like the Pilsen Development Plan is why.

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. 
Troy HernandezNo.

Role model

Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain. 
Troy Hernandez: I like Waguespack. He’s the only one who did the math on the parking meter fiasco.