25th Ward candidate for alderman: Troy Hernandez
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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
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.
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.
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.
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 Hernandez: Simple. 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.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Troy Hernandez: That’d require a majority coalition to let the department of planning do their job and avoid my ward getting blowback.
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 Hernandez: The 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.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Troy Hernandez: They 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.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Troy Hernandez: Their 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 Hernandez: I’d like to see some educators on the board. Whether that’s through elections or a hybrid system is besides the point.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Troy Hernandez: There’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.
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 Hernandez: It 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.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Troy Hernandez: Yes. 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 Hernandez: No.
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.