By Rodrigo Hernandez
In two local State Senate races, incumbents are in one-on-one matches with challengers. The primary will be held Tuesday, March 17, with the winners returning to the ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Froy Jimenez is a Chicago Public Schools history teacher and coach at Hancock High School. He has been a Chicago Teachers Union board member and strike coordinator, and he is the former chief of staff for Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who is Congressman from the 4th District.
Jimenez aims to combat the pension crisis by “advocating for the fair tax,” the progressive income tax, and “eliminating corrupt multiple units of government,” he said. He promises to “fight for dedicated public servants and those paying for the pension program.”
Jimenez believes hiring more police officers and providing better training can help reduce crime. He also believes an elected police board can give residents opportunity “to share a voice and help establish better relationships between citizens and police officers,” he said.
He favors prioritizing policing solely on what officers are trained to do. He therefore does not advocate local police officers participating in ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) operations or performing any immigration duties.
Jimenez wants to help small businesses and family owned businesses by giving them more incentives and fewer taxes and fees. He advocates student loan forgiveness for individuals in certain professions that are “urgent,” and he wants to fight for incentives for students to join and stay committed to the workforce. He supports the minimum wage “to an extent where working class families can sustain themselves rather than getting overwhelmed with taxes and fees.”
If elected, he said he would work for a “balanced legislation” whereby large corporations pay the appropriate amount of taxes and wages and small businesses and family owned businesses also gain benefits.
For schools, Jimenez supports need based funding. He believes an elected school board composed of people directly affected can “make better and more accurate decisions regarding funding distribution and be better helping students,” he said.
Jimenez said he aims to dismantle a system “run by special interests and insider deals” and invite legislators who favor empowering taxpayers and students to combat corruption.
Decriminalizing marijuana in small increments represents a positive to Jimenez because it lets law enforcement “focus more primarily on combating larger levels of crime,” he said.
He also supports term limits for elected officials.
For more information, log on to www.froyjimenez.com
Incumbent Senator Antonio Muñoz has represented the 1st District since 1999 and is assistant majority leader. He chairs the executive appointments committees and serves on the assignments, executive, insurance, veterans’ affairs, and energy and public utilities committees as well as the committee of the whole.
Munoz does not support a constitutional amendment that would alter current State pensioners’ benefits. He said “people should be paid what they were promised,” but he is open to changing pensions for new state hires.
He supports legislation that reduces sentences for misdemeanors. For non-violent offenders, he supports lighter sentences and lower amounts in the cash for bail system.
To help the economy, “the State must invest in opportunity for historically deprived communities,” Munoz said. He advocates enabling more black- and brown-owned businesses to bid on and win State contracts and bringing jobs to the community. Muñoz believes a larger State investment in clean energy “will bring thousands of good paying jobs, ranging from technology to labor.”
He also wants to work with developed businesses to build incubator programs that would encourage creating small businesses in the community and help small business owners learn from established businesses, especially how to be successful. Munoz also believes better access to capital would help small businesses.
A proponent of the $15 minimum wage, Munoz said he “will continue to support a living wage.”
Concerning education, Muñoz wants to give youth more opportunities to study trades. He also believes in budgeting education funding separately from property tax.
Muñoz believes officials have designed the cannabis market to give black and brown communities opportunity for ownership and jobs to grow the local economy. He wants to study that model as a way to bring economic equity to other industries. “It is essential to track how the cannabis market affects economic impact in minority communities,” he said.
Munoz opposes term limits, saying, “elected officials have done great things for communities and for the State,” under the current system, and people have the choice to ask for change on election day.
For more information, log on to www.senatortonymunoz.com or call (773) 869-9050.
Robert Peters has represented the 13th District since January 2019, when Democratic committeepersons appointed him to succeed Kwame Raoul, who became State Attorney General. Peters formerly was a community organizer and activist.
He aims to combat the pension crisis by “looking at corporate tax loopholes and advocating for the fair tax,” he said. Peters stressed “the current tax system should change in a fashion that does not give regressive taxes to pensioners.” Peters also believes a progressive income tax is the “driver for the conversation as to how a more fair tax system can be accomplished.”
Concerning crime, Peters emphasized there “should be more State investment in people with mental health issues,” which would help reduce crime and improve public safety.
Peters also wants to change the current pretrial system by “having people who are not deemed dangerous to go home sooner to their families,” he said. For people deemed dangerous, Peters stressed that, at pretrial, justice system officials should hold “better conversations, such as investigating what those people have done and why they did what they did.” He believes this change can help reduce the prison population, and he supports helping aging released prisoners reintegrate into society.
Peters believes legalized cannabis can provide more jobs. He also wants to create job opportunities for professionals in care service such as attorneys, counselors, and social workers to give more help for people struggling with mental health. “This, in the long run, could improve public safety,” he said.
A proponent of expanding job opportunities and job protection, Peters also supports the $15 minimum wage, and he wants the wages “to balance out with inflation,” he said. He wants large businesses “to be able to afford goods from small businesses, which also supports those small businesses,” he said.
He supports the current school funding system in general but wants reform “which reduces the burden on property tax payers,” he said.
Peters believes legalized cannabis brings more “social equity for small businesses and those directly affected,” he said.
Peters favors term limits.
For more information, log on to www.senatorrobertpeters.com/ or call (773) 363-1996.
Ken Thomas is a practicing attorney who has fought for tenants in eviction cases and for immigrants and represented community organizations seeking to enforce Illinois’s automatic voter registration laws.
Thomas aims to “front load” pensions to combat the pension crisis. In front loaded accounts, contributions are tax deductible or tax exempt. He believes this approach “could reduce borrowing costs over the short term, freeing up funds to pay for core services and improve Illinois’s credit ratings,” he said, noting he would “fight to support pensioners by making sure the State pays its fair share.”
Concerning crime, Thomas said “Providing more jobs, training programs, and better funding for schools can significantly reduce crime for underinvested communities.” Thomas supports reducing jail sentences for certain misdemeanors. He believes rehabilitation opportunities such as job training or education programming in prisons “can better integrate returning citizens back into society and reduce recidivism rates,” he said.
Thomas advocates investing in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods such as South Shore and South Chicago by creating job opportunities and rent-to-own programs for people in those communities. He stressed that “giving resources to disinvested communities, having neighbors become actively involved in development making processes, and ensuring benefits for people in those communities” would be the key.
For schools, Thomas advocates for “better equity in funding for students, more funding for special education, and better resources for teachers,” he said. He believes the State should pay a larger portion of the costs of K-12 education because a property tax funded system “exacerbates an inherent inequity, leaving lower income communities at the mercy of reduced property values,” Thomas said.
He would advocate for equity in legalized cannabis dispensaries. He believes “revenue should be invested into communities that have been over-policed to ensure economic development and job opportunities.”
Thomas opposes legislative term limits. He supports campaign finance reform and publicly funded elections.
For more information, log on to https://kenthomas.org/.